Trip report by Bob Lerch
This was the first trip in 20 years with 6 teams and 18 cavers. Not since the beginning of the project in September 2002, have we had this many people on a survey trip. Dan Lamping recruited cavers from all over the state with the hopes of introducing new cavers to Carroll and to possibly break 21 miles for the Carroll Cave survey. Teams were sent throughout the cave to work on old leads that might add up to some real footage. Please see the individual team reports for more details on each team. Teams and objectives were as follows:
Litsch Team (Alex, Cathleen Yung, Kohl Mitchell) – DL2;
McCain Team (Chad, Michael Bradford, Isaac Smith) – CL8 (infamous lead requiring vertical work near the Mountain Room);
Schmitt Team (Tony, Corey Ellis, Josh Hafner) – side leads and drone reconnaissance near the Mountain Room;
Lamping Team (Dan, Ben Geisert, Jeff Fennell) – side passages off the Water Passage;
Crews Team (Spike, Joe Sikorski, Marissa Schorr) – Upper Thunder leads; and
Lerch Team (Bob, Derik Holtmann, Rita Worden) – re-sketch NU1 to U10 where the main passage and the T survey overlap.
Since my team was not traveling far, we were the last team down the shaft, entering at about 11a. Before I went down, I lowered a tape down the shaft to use for sketching it on my way out later in the day. Our main objective for the day was to add some needed detail along the left wall and stream level starting from station NU1 to NU7. In addition, we needed to sketch the upper level from stations U4 to U10, which for some reason were never sketched by the original team that surveyed it. So, we needed to fill-in this missing piece.
We quickly found NU1 and began surveying along the left wall (looking in) to better define the large meander and the bridge where the stream undercuts. We also found NU2 in the upper level passage which was another critical tie-in. In this area of the cave, the upper level and stream are all one passage but the stream undercuts the upper passage and it creates some complex sketching conditions. After a few hours, we finished the left wall and stream level detail, then headed to the upper level.
We took a short break before starting the upper level survey, then we reeled off 6 shots to tie into station U10. After about 170 ft, the upper level finally becomes its own passage, separate from the stream level. This helped me to draw more quickly, but there was still plenty of detail in this passage to capture. Much of it is very decorated with large flowstone, rimstone pools, stalags, stalacs, columns, and a seemingly infinite number of soda straws and spathites. We mapped past one huge flowstone and rimstone complex that is unnamed but far more beautiful and extensive than the Angel Pool. After another two hours of survey, we tied into U10, then headed for the exit.
At the Backdoor entrance, I waited for several people to exit before me so I could sketch as I climbed the ladder. I had my survey bag over my shoulder as I climbed so that I could get to my sketch book and draw as I went. The problem was the shaft is too small, and I didn’t have room to draw. So, I mentally noted where the shaft narrows, which happened to be where the water starts flowing, at 66 ft below ground level as well as getting a general idea of what the walls look like at various points. As soon as I got out, I started drawing the shaft so I wouldn’t forget what I saw. I also added in the room where you get on/off rope and the silo itself. From ground level to the bottom of the shaft (i.e., cave floor) was 126 ft.
As turned out, the total of all 6 teams (5 really because my team didn’t add any new footage) was enough new length to get us past 21 miles, by just 4.8 ft! Total footage for the day was 2,534.67 ft, with 1,205.74 ft of new survey. Footage by team was as follows:
Litsch Team – 171.5 ft total, 145.3 ft new survey
McCain Team – 366.6 ft total, 292.1 ft new survey
Schmitt Team – 285.15 ft total, 231.4 ft new survey
Lamping Team – 758.46 ft total, 487.51 ft new survey
Crews Team – 128.21 ft total, 49.43 ft new survey
Lerch Team – 824.75 ft total, 0.00 ft new survey