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
already, I must have seemed the logical choice.  So, now more or less officially in charge of our itinerary, I explored the less arduous but more treacherous route over the tilted ribcage of the Hogback. 

As this was taking place, much needed reinforcements showed up, as if on cue.  Their lights bobbing toward us in the gloom, a troop that included members of the Louisville Grotto arrived looking fresh and eager; some were surprisingly clad in muscle tees and somewhat abbreviated caver attire, and almost all sported carbide lamps.  But we must have seemed rudely unappreciative, for when we realized there were carbiders, our outcry of "Stop!" was nearly simultaneous.  Gregg was having increasing difficulty breathing and was being administered oxygen.  Throughout the night we had been ultra careful to avoid any possibility of encounter between the oxygen tank and open flame.  Now here were half a dozen flickering torches head our way—and we had nearly welcomed them with open arms!

We quickly negotiated a change of guard, ensuring that those staying with the patient transport party were all electric.  Fresh cavers traded helmets with the mud-encrusted weary, and we were soon in motion once more.  John Young and Tom Crockett, worn out from the events of the day, and seeing that the rescue was under control, returned to the surface.  It was nearing four a.m.

One of the members of the Louisville Grotto [Tim Piper] volunteered to retrace his steps to the entrance in order to get another tank of oxygen, shouldering a depleted tank as he left.  Various anonymous samaritans hustled back and forth from Garbage Pit to provide blankets and medical supplies throughout the evening and I apologize for not knowing who they were so that I could acknowledge their vital assistance more personally in this report. 



It was finally decided that the upper route over the Hogback was the most expedient and, as it was becoming ever more obvious that Gregg's need of hospital care was increasingly dire, speed was chosen over more cautious options.  The Ferno was belayed from the top of the Hogback as it was dragged along the steep incline of breakdown, rescuers often having no more protection than their toes jammed into narrow cracks between the exfoliated slabs of rock to prevent their headlong plunge into the blackness below.  This was the final, genuinely threatening moment in our journey, and it was handled smoothly.  But it would have been a very bad place to have an incident, as the makeshift belay (more a tether than a belay) would not have prevented a considerable pendulum of the Ferno, perhaps sweeping several people into the abyss during its careening arc.  The actual risk of this happening appeared low but, in all honesty, we were luckier than we were skillful in this moment of the rescue. 

From now forward we were dealing with nothing more treacherous than slippery floor and several minor hills, but exhaustion was weighing heavily on the balance against safety, and we had to be particularly cautious not to let our attention slip.  Gordon occasionally had to remind me to resume my barking monologue to keep people moving and aware.  I suspect I was detested by more than a few as I hounded everyone to stand here or there and, above all, to be careful with Gregg's right arm.  But if anyone had had their fill of me, no one was selfish enough to voice their objection, and everyone responded without complaint or reluctance.  Throughout the entire rescue people were wonderfully friendly and compliant, without exception. 

I spent the remainder of the trip hustling from front to back of the rescue party, often literally crawling over

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