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. 2, June 2006
We traversed the Big Room to find that it was cut in half by water from the Second Lake Room.  The fact that the water came all of the way across the Big Room and was 20 feet wide meant that the water level was at least 35 feet higher than the last time that I had been there; I knew that we’d have to swim, or at least wade across the First Lake Room.  We were able to cross the Big Room without getting wet past our thighs, but the crossing was treacherous, with rocks hidden beneath the murky water, and many people had to get their arms wet to the shoulder to prevent broken ankles.
Minutes later we were crossing the top of the Hogback, exulting in the majesty of the Appalachian Trail, the height of the Hogback, and the surreal ceiling so close above us.  There was laughter and everyone worked together to get safely over the breakdown.  Content that everyone was working together and being safe, I went ahead to Echo Junction, only a stone’s throw away and within sight of their lights.  The others found me sober and somber on the shores of a lake that completely concealed the entrance to the bypass and extended off into the darkness, too far for our lights to see the other side.
Here was another crucial moment.  The walls were sheer; I estimated the depth of water to be over 30’ in some places and it was at least 175’ to the other side, but we couldn’t see it.  Knowing that we had an even
longer way behind us than before, and an up-climb that I would likely be the only one able to do, a climb that I would have to do without a belay and risk leaving the group with no one who knew the way out, I decided that a short swim would be wiser; maybe only short for some of us.  As we were already wet to almost the waist and getting cold, sunlight in 30 minutes was our best hope.  I still feel that this was the better of two choices, but it was not executed as it should have been.  Who would swim ahead? Who would scout the other side?  Next was the question of headlamps. 

There were only two headlamps in the group that I was confident were totally waterproof and I wasn’t wearing one of them.  I was using an alpine light, one that fed through my collar and had a battery pack slung under my arm, the kind that is a pain to get on or off.  Darshan volunteered to do the swim, and changed headlamps with someone else.  He was now wearing a Petzl Duo 5.  If we could get a light on the opposite side of the water I could put the rest of the headlamps one by one in my dry bag and swim them across, but we needed a light at our destination.  I knew that there would be more breakdown and another lake ahead. We would need our boots, but how would we get them across?  We should have left them, or filled my dry bag with air and attached them, but we didn’t. 
Darshan began the swim with his boots on, staying within about 10 feet of the left wall.  I had a rope tied around his waist, but I knew that the rope was too short.  I could pull him back if something happened in the first 70’ but after that I would be helpless. I filled my dry bag with as much air as possible, but burdened it with none of our headlamps so that we could give Darshan more light.  I attached the now floating bag to the other end of the rope so that I could swim to this buoy and pull him back if something happened, thereby cutting the swim down.  I also knew that I was the only trained lifeguard in the group, and probably the strongest swimmer; I was ready at the shore. 
Darshan was slowly making progress but it was strained.  Every once in awhile he would gasp out “Can’t see it,” until finally he said, “I can see it!” He was at the end of our sight, 170’ away.  He switched from the crawl, to the breast stroke for several feet and I cringed; he was getting tired.  He switched to an upright position, trying to keep his head above the water and then screamed, “Help!” before


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