02/01/03 – Simmons (UL1)

Trip Report

Survey of UL1 Saturday Feb. 1, 2003

After a late start, the survey team of James Corsentino, Andy Free, Wayne Pierce, Eddie Simmons and Carl Wagner arrived at our destination. We were instructed to locate and start the survey of UL1. This is a virgin side, close to the ceiling of Upper Thunder. A gap of about 6 feet horizontally had to be bridged in order to access this passage. The gap was 13 feet above the water level in Thunder River. We brought an aluminum walkboard, that was 8′ long-extending to 13′, and it worked great for the task. This fit very nicely down the hole and was neither heavy nor awkward maneuvering it through the cave. This may also prove handy in the future for such encounters.

After crossing the gap, we had to climb a very steep clay embankment.  Wayne went first and rigged a handline for everyone to use in making their way up. This proved very necessary because the clay on the embankment would fall away in big amounts with every step. And the wetter it got from us, the worse it got. We made it to the mouth of the side and set our first station. (It was 1:00pm) James was the approved sketcher; Wayne would start running front site, Carl reading back site and Andy running lead tape. I eventually would take over front site and mainly watched and learned. Needless to say, with two rookies and a lot of questions, our survey began slowly.

UL1 appears to be an old stream meander that is now mostly full of clay. It starts off rather wide but only about 4′ tall. It appears the clay could be ten or more feet deep, evidence of this is seen for the first 50-100′. Shortly inside, there’s room to stand in a little room between the clay banks. A nice Dripstone, also lay just inside the entrance. The front side is alittle discolored, but the backside is white and runs down a distance, into the standing area. A few patches of Spathites and a small area of Aragonite are also present. Numerous bat bones were noticed throughout the trip, mostly in upper dry areas. Two singular Pipistrelles (I think) are the only biota noted.

For the next 200′, the passage continues, having small areas of standing with crawls and squeezes in-between.  A more recent stream floor appears and site of the lower one is gone, for now. The passage is very soupy and sticky, typical of Mother Carroll. But also typical, numerous small areas of speleothems are found throughout. Another patch of Aragonite was noted, some nice Helictites, and of course more Spathites (which were originally named from the quantities found in Carroll Cave).

A couple of upper joints cut through, but none of a traversal nature. The ceiling opens and closes with pockets the whole way, but none lifted more than a few feet. So far, the passage is traveling in southeasterly direction.

At about 6:20pm we closed our last station (UL1-9 ((I think))), and had about 200′ done. We were able to stop in an area, which appears to be about the end of the mud and crawling. The passage was getting bigger, 12-15′ wide and walking appeared to be more common. The wet sticky clay was become more dry and with a sandy texture. The stream floor was dropping and the ceiling was rising, where we last saw. The mood is good, enthusiasm high, and the level of quality will not be compromised. This cave is a Mother!

UL1 Survey will continue

Eddie Simmons