The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
page 16  [contents] (< prev) (next >)
 vol. 40. iss. 1, December 2005
Once we were all dripping dry on the far side of the tight spot (the water is really warm, by the way!), we decided to eat something (duh), because it was after 4pm and we'd not yet had a break. While we munched, we considered our options. I didn't want to sketch with a filthy book, while freezing cold, in such big passage - I wanted to do it justice. We talked about wet suits. Ben messed with his lamp for a while. We decided at last to check out the new passage we'd discovered (Tony said there hadn't been a breakout in this cave for 15 years), and then head out. Tony went first, and Ben and I followed his footprints carefully past lovely stalactites and white soda straws, some bacon, into a room with gorgeous mud formations all over the floor that resembled Hell's Half Acre. The breakdown trunk passage seemed to end after a couple hundred feet, but we spotted a couple side leads, as well as a crawlway in a stream passage that probably doubles back towards the main cave.

At last we forced ourselves back into the tight spot: my pack floated very well, and crawling through the water somehow got me moving again, as I warmed up right away. We made our way back to the bottom of the drop, and I breathed through my mouth to avoid smelling the Dead Things that littered its 75-foot extent. Soon after I emerged, Gary arrived to check on us; he hung around until Tony turned up (Note: DO NOT USE A ROPEWALKER ON THIS DROP! It is an idiotic and inefficient thing to do, esp when the rope gets muddy). "And I guess I'll pick up the survey gear sometime this week?" he said. "Sure - or we'll drop it off," I responded hastily. I waited patiently for Ben, and then while he changed into...less muddy clothes, I de-rigged and coiled the rope, snapping his picture because the mud is just so incredible.

We dragged Tony back to our apartment so we could shower, and then went out for a fantastic Mexican meal. It was 10pm before we left to take Tony home, and Ben and I were exhausted. We didn't get home 'til after midnight, and then collapsed into bed.

Trip 3 - Returning on June 18, the same group went back to continue the survey past the Rabbit Hole. This went very smoothly compared to the first trip and we spent some time pushing leads. Our continuing passage was in fact too tight and ended in stream passage with only three to four inches of air. The area is full of stalactites that have extremely broad bases of calcite-covered mud. Either the bottom of the stalactites was once the floor or in some areas the ceiling can be seen flaking away with stalactites pushing from above. We dubbed this area "Alice's Wonderland," and our lunch area "Alice's Restaurant" after an Arlo Guthrie song. About halfway down this passage along the right wall the floor drops out and a stream enters.

The stream, 15 feet wide or so, is only two or three inches deep but it feeds through the Rabbit Hole and to a sump at the end of the Poop Chute. This stream is intriguing because there is no known cave in the direction from which it flows. After the survey we went to the Rimstone Dams to see the sites, and then we continued around a side passage so I could show Peg a room which to me is how cave should look. It is filled with totem pole stalagmites and overlooks the River Styx. After washing off in the Dams and taking pictures we headed out, and while traveling in the area I found a small hole at the bottom of passage running from the "E" survey around to the River Styx. The water levels in this part of the cave had mysteriously dropped since my trip in March, revealing nooks and crannies near the floor.