Trip date: 28 January 2017
Project manager: Bill Gee
Trip purpose: Download data loggers
Areas of Cave visited: Convention Hall
Trip participants: See trip report
Entry Time: 9:20am
Exit Time: 3:40pm
The trip report: Participants – Bill Gee (trip leader)
Cliff Gill (Trip leader)
This trip was the annual data logger collection trip. The goal was to download data from every data logger. Since we had a lot of participants, we divided into two groups. The first group was led by me and did the data logger download. The second group was led by Cliff Gill. They did photography work in UL2 that can be used to generate 3D photogrammetry images.
Jack, Kyle and I drove down early Saturday morning. We arrived at the silo about 8:40am, with Ben and Ryan right behind us. After I unlocked the cave, I booted my laptop and attempted to download data from the rain gauge logger. It failed – again. I don’t know what the problem was. The last valid download was last year’s logger service trip.
I replaced the battery in the rain gauge logger, then launched it again. I saved the old battery thinking it might be dead. Later testing at home showed it was nearly new. The only thing I can think of is perhaps I did not get the logger launched a year ago.
Everyone had arrived by 9:15am. The first person down the shaft was Ben, who volunteered to help people get off the rope as they finished the rappel. Jack and I stayed on top to help everyone get on the rope safely. We were the last two people down the shaft at about 10:00am. I downloaded the two data loggers at the bottom of the ladder. There were no live snakes at the bottom of the ladder, though we saw several that had been dead for some time.
Due to the size of the group and the plan for photography, we decided to travel together to Convention Hall. The trip there took a bit over an hour. I downloaded the UL2 data logger as we went by. We saw several cave fish in Thunder River and more in the UL2 stream. We did not get a formal count, but it was in the range of 10 or 15 total. Size ranged from about 30mm to 50mm. We also saw a grotto salamander on a mud bank in UL2.
At Convention Hall we all had lunch. Several people climbed up to the overlook area. Everyone was suitably impressed. At this point we divided off the photography team (Cliff, Jack, Ben and Tom). Everyone else came with me. My group left Convention Hall at 12:20 with an agreement to meet at the ladder at 2:30.
My group stopped at the entrance to UL2 to admire formations, then travelled straight through to the data logger in Carroll River. I downloaded the logger, which completed our major task. We had a bit of time, so everyone went to the Rimstone Room to admire formations. We were back at the ladder at 2:23.
Less than 5 minutes later Cliff’s team arrived. Their timing was nearly perfect! They did not come up to the ladder, electing instead to stay in the stream all the way over to Thunder Falls. I led my group through the shortcut and met up with them in the stream.
At Thunder Falls everyone but me climbed down the rock face just to the right of the waterfall, then played around in the pool. Photos were taken of several people standing in the waterfall. They returned by the ladder and the Hines Highway.
As she was coming out of the Hines Highway, Kelsey Clark slipped on a rock and fell on her left knee fairly hard. It was bleeding a bit. We washed it off in the river until it stopped bleeding. She was having trouble bending her knee, so Tom and Ben half-carried her back to the ladder.
Kyle, Alex and I went up the ladder first. We opened the rescue cache and the big hatch, then prepared to use the winch to haul Kelsey out if needed. As it turns out she did not need help. She gritted her teeth and managed to climb the ladder unassisted. Everyone else was close behind her. We were all out of the cave by 3:40.
After cleaning up and putting gear away, we all went to El Espolon in Camdenton for dinner.
We found a roll of duct tape, so we were able to reseal the trash can rescue cache. I talked to Tom a few days later by email. He said Kelsey’s knee was bruised pretty good, but otherwise she was not seriously injured.
Two restoration projects were seen in the cave. The Rimstone Room still has some carbide dumps that need to be picked up. The rock wall that protects a formation about halfway from the ladder to the Rimstone Room is mostly knocked apart. It needs to be rebuilt. It would be useful to put in some stakes with flagging tape to better mark the trail through that formation area.