The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
page 21  [contents] (< prev) (next >)
 vol. 40. iss. 1, December 2005
started surveying: Ben did his usual awesome job as point man (lead tape), and read backsights, while I read frontsights and kept book. It took me a little while to get the hang of sketching and dealing with the rest of the survey gear, but in the end I think it really helped me speed up my sketching (in a good way!). Our first chunk of survey knocked off one corner of the big room; I thought it would help finish the sketch of the room, but then I stuck my head around a corner and spied a bunch of inviting cracks and dark spaces that I didn’t want to draw without a line plot.


(click image to enlarge)

We had bigger fish to fry that day, so after a couple short shots we popped down to the Milky Way area, to pick up exploring and surveying the passage Ben had scooped a month earlier. The original plan was that he would learn how to sketch in this low, relatively uniform passage, but somehow every time Ben scampered off to set a point, he failed to return and watch me sketch. My brain wasn’t tired yet, though, so I didn’t mind (and anyway, the map is mine! All mine! Just kidding). Beyond the Milky Way junction, the passage curves southeast and opens into a room perhaps six feet tall and thirty wide, with neat “leopard-print” mud cracks on the floor (the cracks are particularly wide and dark in color). The soft mud floor of this room is littered with fallen soda straws, intermingled with small stalagmites. One alcove of the room contains an impressive column several inches around. While I sketched this room, Ben went ahead to check beyond the pit he’d found in August, and

before long I heard him whooping and barking (yes) in delight at yet another marvelous find. What could it be?! Since there were only two of us and I’m a chicken, I didn’t want him going out of voice contact, so I reined him in and we sat down for lunch. Ben could barely contain his excitement: “Are you done sketching? Do you want me to tell you about it now, or wait? I’ll let you finish sketching, and then while you eat I’ll tell you a story…are you done yet?” When I’d put the book down and pulled out a sandwich, he described the passage ahead: there was the pit, and a crawlway beyond it, and then a window…into the middle of a BIG dome-pit, unclimbable, surely more passage below, more passage beyond, who knows how high up it goes, and then breakdown, and blackness, and – Oh, the possibilities!


(click image to enlarge)

After lunch I was pretty chilled, so we decided to leave our packs and survey gear to check out what lay ahead. First, we had to cross the pit – carved in mud, not solid rock, slicing through the passage like a road cut. Following Ben’s example, I scrambled around the right-hand edge, hugging a pile of mud and feeling it crumble into the darkness below me. Forty feet ahead, the passage lowered, and a wide hole on the left side of the crawlway gave us a view of this new dome-pit: dripping with water, walls of coral-studded limestone, with a great deal of cobbles and debris at the bottom. We couldn’t get a good view towards the top at all: the dome-pit was at least 30 feet wide.