length, and the largest not more than an inch in diameter.
discovered a river in the cave flowing through the ledges of
rock as crooked as serpent and not more than three or four feet
width. The bottom of the river was not found.
The members of the party are J.C.
Smith, L. Striker, C.C. Forrester, George Swain, rich Klotzbatch and O.
B. Wheeler, who made the trip from Dayton to the cave in the gasoline
launch 'Itsky,' which is owned by
Rescue from the
“The greatest hazard in cave
exploration is that of falling, and deaths sometimes occur from this
cause. Cave explorers rarely stumble into
holes. Most falls occur when
inexperienced explorers use old ropes or ladders that they have found
or when they descend ropes improperly. Ropes
and wooden ladders left by previous visitors
should never be used,
because the decay organisms which abound in caves rapidly weaken them
greatly changing their outward appearance.”
from Speleology: The Study of Caves, by George W. Moore
and G. Nicholas Sullivan.
It had already been a
trainwreck of a week. Amazingly, it
would prove a trainwreck without fatalities in the final sum, but with
havoc strewn in its wake, nonetheless. However,
when I received the urgent news—Man
Fallen 70’ in Big Room, RESCUE IN PROGRESS, Status of Fallen
Unknown—the week's previous misfortunes were reduced to
an instant. I thought, “Seventy
feet...that’s not a rescue. That’s retrieval.”
grim vision of what lay ahead
uncoupled its chaotic sprawl before me one boxcar at a time, each
answer to some dread, unspoken question. Still
no caboose in sight, no signal of a limit to
the disaster. All was conjecture and
anticipation. And strangely, within this
clarifying urgency, I began to relax, focus, and ten minutes later I
was on the
felt better, purposeful. The
exhaustion from a marathon retyping of
the grotto newsletter slipped away like a shed skin.
I was reborn, filled with a purpose far
outweighing my prior petty inauspiciousness. And,
despite the unattractive prospects in front of
me, to be raised
beyond the doldrums of quotidian misery was a welcome boon. Though a tad behind schedule, everything thus
far promised had been accomplished. Against
maddening and depressing vicissitudes (the
disk containing the
entire summer issue of the newsletter had been stolen when I briefly
left the UK computer lab!), the Cricket had been
compiled and printed, the meeting organized,
replete with handouts. And now
this. What better baptism from the
trivial than an honest-to-God cave rescue?
feet—the figure kept
thrumming through my mind as I slam-dunked my gear together—not even really possible in the Big Room without
the most unlikely (e.g. insectivorous) locomotion.
But I assumed that this translated to “a real
long way down.” Certainly that
was possible. The South
Overlook was my first suspicion,