- In August, after a short break for our wedding, we continued on the
27th. Tony, Peg, and I head underground around 10 am to continue the UP
survey and to mop up the “Chocolate Factory.” After an early start and
some mallion problems we head back to “Dripline Junction" to start the
CF survey and as usual I'm impatient as hell to get back to going
passage. Peg reins me in and we finish the Chocolate Factory in about 4
hours. While Peg finishes sketching I check out the terminal dome.
Before I thought this area might be worth digging in, but after a
second trip and jamming myself into every hole I found, it really
doesn't look good for continuing passage. After a brief break for lunch
we travel to the columns and continue the UP survey. Here after a few
minutes of indecision we decide not to finish this passage but to
continue to the new area. A strong wind blows constantly here. While
Peg sketched I headed left at the junction. I had not gone far when I
encountered a column 6-7 feet in height, in an area littered with soda
straws. Continuing for maybe 5 minutes I encountered a crack in the
floor running almost completely across the passage. This turned out to
be a pit 30 feet or so deep, maybe 5 feet across at its widest, with a
traversable right hand side. I debated whether I wanted to try and
cross for a minute or two.
(click image to enlarge)
Finally deciding to cross I went
feet down the passage; here a sizable void through a low spot was
visible. Peg called that she was ready and I returned to the
After warning Tony to tread
lightly we continued through the Milky Way,
across the spar pool (which we now noticed is at the bottom of another
dome), and into the larger dome on the other side.
Peg had sketched almost
to the point of tears and decided she was done.
While she rested I poked around, finding at the bottom of the dome a
large drain which appears to be blocked by a big piece of petrified
wood. On the other side was a streambed filled with spar, spanning 25
ft or so.
(click images to enlarge)
At eye level a “Faberge
Egg" filled with speleothems stares back at
you. Across the dome, pure white stalagmites and open passage beckon.
This is a no/low traffic area, so the next trip here will be to
complete this side of the survey or hopefully find a way around.
Crossing over these formations is a formidable task which should not be
taken lightly. Once past the dome, a large room sits filled with
breakdown and passages leading in every direction. In the dome again a
strong wind chilled the waiting survey crew. Once I returned I gave Peg
my carbide lamp to warm herself as she ate. Around the corner was
another dome –