The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
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 vol. 41. iss. 1, March 2006
I was hastily introduced to Mike Summers of the Blue Grass Grotto, a paramedic-caver (no wings, but I would soon attest to his halo).  I was told that I was to guide him to the patient; Anthony and Rip (Chris Reynolds’ curious sobriquet) would round out the party.  Mike changed into his gear; he had also brought a set of field phones. 

Everything was happening at such a velocity, I felt as though we were being swept into the cave by phantom attendants.  When we rounded the pit, after my eyes adjusted to the glare of lights, I saw John Young for the first time.  He was working as though possessed, the model of organization under fire.  He briefed me with such professional terseness you would not have known we were such close friends.  I still was unaware that he had witnessed the fall, or that he had been the mysterious messenger.  It did not matter; there were other concerns to consume the present.  It was decided that Mike’s field phones would be the responsibility of less urgently needed personnel; our job was to get to Gregg Harrington as fast as possible.

Passing beyond the wooden door that leads into the GP entrance of the cave (the door helps maintain the flow of air into John Crockett’s greenhouse, regulating its temperature year round), the jaunt toward Garbage Pit Hill was an otherworldly retreat from the clamor above.  The entire hill was ablaze with light from the halogen lamps; you could see everything as never before.  It was so blissfully quiet, so innocent of tragedy, that I was stilled by the overwhelming beauty of this once familiar place, now so new and dazzling.  It was mournful to leave it behind us, trudging through the muck toward inestimable gravity.  My heart pounded with a dizzying flux of excitement and dread.  I have experienced nothing quite like it before. 


Anthony and Rip led the way, agile as mountain goats, while I stumbled about on the muddied slopes like a Jerry Lewis wannabe.  Some leader I was proving to be!  Mike Summers endured the extra encumbrance of his medic bag as he negotiated the unfamiliar and extraordinarily sloppy terrain without complain or comment.  Looking back, I regret we did not seem friendlier...but then again, we all had other things on our minds. 

All along the route to the Big Room the telltale signs of a major rescue effort were in evidence. Phone wire snaked over breakdown piles, conscientiously out of footfall, green flagging tape punctuated the concourse to leave no doubt to later parties where they should proceed.  Really a leader was scarcely necessary; any cub scout could have found the Big Room without much difficulty. 

            Shortly before the Hogback, we encountered the third rescue party, which was proceeding slowly under the burden of transporting the Ferno Stokes basket.  Familiar faces were everywhere in this select group of cavers, representing several grottoes, not to mention several states.  Fellow Lexingtonians Jim Currens, Phil O'dell and Jerry Nichols were present, as well as our own Wayne Hansen and Richard Hand.  Well-known Sloans' caver and COG member Greg Erisman was also in the midst of this rather large, equipment-transport party, and there were a number of folk I did not recognize, but could tell from their seasoned smiles that this was not their first time underground. 

It was decided at this juncture that Gordon Muse, who was undertaking the exhausting role as relay between parties, should continue onward to take Mike Summers to the patient; I stayed behind to help haul

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