Author Topic: Speleofest 2011  (Read 1633 times)

Offline Amata

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Speleofest 2011
« on: June 01, 2011, 06:49:19 pm »
Thought I'd share this with you all too and not just the us forum :) Enjoy what is a "typical" caving meet here! We have a lot throughout the year...MVOR, VAR, SERA, Speleofest, Karst-O-Rama, TAG Cave-In, etc etc etc. I have yet to spend a lot of time in the above-ground activities since i have to travel so far to cave I spend my time caving. But above ground has lots of activities as well.

Started off Thursday early morning, met up with John and drove the remaining way to Lonestar arriving about 2:00pm. Found a nice campsite spot and met a few folks and John knew most the peeps there it seemed although I didn't. Although I did find my cuz! LOL Kim knows an Amy Hinkle and kept wondering why her noncaving person she knew was posting caving stuff. So we just claimed to be cousins all weekend long xD. Anyway, headed out to Hidden River because John was going to be leading a trip there on Saturday, but with all the rain we weren't sure of the water levels, and, he knew that the footholds to climb up all the mudbanks would need to be re-troweled out.

Met up with Missy and Joe there, entered the cave around 6pm. Water level at the crossing John said was usually ankle/shin deep, but it was up to my chest! Even right next to the bank there, Joe is still in knee-deep.

Hidden River 03 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

The mud was slick and fun. I think I spent more time on my arse than on my feet.  :rofl: Luckily there were some downward bits we could just slide. That was a BLAST. I love mudslides in caves. Got some GOOD speed too, on one I think I got some air even where it drops off sharply at the bottom :D

We made it back to Sunset Dome just fine. If I remember right, it's a 5 acre room. HUGGGGGGGE dome. John has a great photo of it but this not being a photo trip and here my 200lumen apex was definitly NOT enough for lightpainting, here are a few of my best quicky shots I got as John kept digging out the holds down to the School Maze.

The rock is maybe 7-8ft tall, and in the distance in this photo.

Hidden River 05 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Hidden River 06 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

I ended up not doing the downclimb out of Sunset Dome down to the School Maze because there was a section that there was nothing I could reach with my hands to hold, and the mud was super slick and my feet were not staying in the dug footholds. Being that if I had slipped there in that toughest spot, it would be a long way down a slick mudslide with nothing to stop me but a few boulders and then deep fast river at the bottom (aka prolly death would stop my fall should I slip, heh) I didn't do it. John doesn't know how or like body belays or something like that, and there wasn't really anywhere to rig to so I couldn't get myself a handline (which had I had, it'd have been fine, I just needed something I could trust my weight to if needed). Joe and John made it though, however, the School Maze was flooded so it ended up I didn't miss anything than a harrowing too dangerous for my taste climb.

Missy and I waited for the in Sunset Dome and got artistic. She made a snowman and hand, I did a turtle and dolphin.

Hidden River 14 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

We were in the cave for about 4.5 hrs even though we didn't make it far! Digging took a lot of time, and the mud was a PITA to get through, a lot of it was peanutbutter thick deep where it wasn't so slick you were falling on your arse all the time haha. Definitly tie boots tight or you'd loose them as you sunk a foot or more down into the mud!

On Friday, Sarah, John, and I went to Cooch-Webb and also Rough caves. I don't know why they call it Rough Cave, it's short, like 500ft or something tiny like that, and it's basically just a formation room. I think we were in there maybe 30-45 min tops.

Rough Cave07 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

I dunno what you call this but it was cool.

Rough Cave05 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Then we headed over to Cooch-Webb. Most of the group to Cooch-Webb did the vertical route but Sarah never has done it and John wasn't interested (I know he has gear but I don't think he's been on rope for like...3 years or something and never did it much), so I just stayed with them so we had three for the Piano Entrance.

Sarah modeling in the Piano Entrance. You can see how it gets its name I hope!

Cooch-Webb Cave01 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

There were some formations but it was actually a lot of walking and breakdown passage. Kinda reminded me of TAG type caving how you get those huge passages you can actually walk in for a while, lol.

Cooch-Webb Cave03 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

We didn't go that far, actually, the water levels were high so we stopped when we hit the stream/river. It was a short 2-ish hour trip if that.

Sarah stayed around the evening too, and that evening we practiced dancing the Creep, the Bernie, and she taught me to Pretzel. We were great at embarrassing John and such, but we had fun dancing with Pup and hanging out with some of the mudhippies :D.

:woohoo:  :woohoo:  :banana:  :banana:

The next day, Saturday, John had his Hidden River trip which only one person ended up going on so they did the upstream route since it is easier or something like that. Sarah and I decided to go to McCamish Crystal Cave because the maze passages and climbing around and gypsum sounded fun. It was a lead to entrance trip, told can't get lost as all the maze bits pipe back into the main route. Sarah and I had hit it off well the day before, but today we definitly decided we were not only on the same page, we were reading from the same entire book. Instant friends and cavebuddies :D We kept finding the littleist stupid things that we were the same about from needing to dance and sing to music, to various things that most people liked but we didn't, or vice-versa, I can't remember them all but there were so many haha. It was like we were cut from the same crazycloth LOL. Anyway, we were towards the front of the group entering the cave, but I have no clue why everyone darted through stuff, missing the gypsum! We hunted all over for flowers, found sadly quite a few broken ones on the ground (sounds like it's a very well used cave including by boy scout troops and spelunkers and such, graffiti sadly proved use by those who didn't care too). So out of the main passage we went. I think we checked out EVERY little hole on the way in. We never got lost, always knew were we were. We were quickly in the back of the group no one else around xD which was fine that's how this trip was, shown the entrance do whatever last few out make sure gate is locked so the cows don't escape the pasture type thing.

This was the type of climbing here I loveeeeeeeeee. And she did too. SO MUCH FUN. There would be holes up above our heads, but reachable kinda, just a lower foothold too low and nothing for a while until a hand hold, so needed help. Only two of us? No problem. We figured out it was best for her to go up first, because I had the strength to stand up underneath her as she stood on a shoulder or something (using the holds she could find on the way too) or I could give a knee or give her a foothold with my hands or something. She would be up and in. Then brace herself and give me a leg (she has long legs) and I could grab around her ankle to hold, use the lower foothold with her foot, kinda jump to the next level while pulling up and she could slide back to give me more lift, then I could get to the higher formerly unreachable holds and scramble up after her. I was somehow better at climbing down, so we just reversed the process for getting back down. We were able to get into everywhere working together, and it was flawless, we got along like two peas in a pod. :D

Sunguramy, my cave photography and blog website

Offline Amata

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Re: Speleofest 2011
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2011, 06:49:48 pm »
(andddd part 2 since I reached the max character limit haha)

Getting into the harder areas that everyone was rushing by, definitely proved to be a great idea. Up in these areas was where you could find undamaged gypsum, and a lot of the walls would be all sparkly and covered so we were careful to not touch of course.

McCammish Crystal Cave 01 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

McCammish Crystal Cave 04 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

I loved these holes that looked like old knots in trees, ya know? and the inside would just be all crystaly :D

McCammish Crystal Cave 03 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

This one was interesting, the crystals were brown. What caused that?

McCammish Crystal Cave 09 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

The walls were cool looking :D

McCammish Crystal Cave 05 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Really out of focus but I loved that this was a solid white sparkly wall with a little brown chillaxin'.

McCammish Crystal Cave 10 by Sunguramy, on Flickr


McCammish Crystal Cave 14 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Often in the higher passages there was a lot of very windy very belly crawling. :D

McCammish Crystal Cave 16 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Definitely worth that sort of fun crawling and climbing though! It is where the undestroyed stuff was :D

McCammish Crystal Cave 19 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

We eventually made it to the back of the cave, which is large with a lot of formations.

McCammish Crystal Cave 24 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Looking up formations growing down was fun. These I'm not even sure what....they seemed sparklycrystally like gypsum on the inside but they were big and seemed like stalactites growing down.

McCammish Crystal Cave 26 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Sarah noticed if you look up soda straws that had water dropplets on the tip, the water acted as a magnifier for the inside and showed pretty crystalyness and also reflected it around.

McCammish Crystal Cave 32 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

McCammish Crystal Cave 34 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Oh and a pause for a cute bat who I swear smiled and winked at me, see?

McCammish Crystal Cave 27 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

I think we spent 4.5 hrs or so in the cave. We were the last out xD anyway we had a blast!

McCammish Crystal Cave 35 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

We stopped to eat in this quant little town. OMG Best bbq and cornbread I've ever had, and sweet tea, and omg fried green tomatoes, what? Those are YUM. I love the south...

Lunch with Sarah by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Lunch with sarah 2 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Sarah had to leave and go home to work  :sadbanana:  so later that day I got on rope some. I wanted to try a ropewalker for the heckofit, the peeps running the vertical stuffs had every system to try out so why not, right? I brought over my gear and saw it there and thought it looked fun. So, Bill hooked me up and I started up the rope. They made me kiss the pulley at the top xD I was up that rope in a jiffy DANG ropewalking is ubereasy! No one believed I'd never done it before! The second time up I did a bit of it without hands, hahahaha. That is SO WEIRD to not need my hands at all. And it was just as easy! (they had a qas type thing on it to move up as you climbed, and I realized on the second time up I didn't need my hands on it at all other than to shove it up because I was  never putting any weight on it anyway). The only things I can't figure would you pass a lip on a ropewalker without dying of the struggle since you can't just pass ascenders over it, and how on earth would you downclimb if you needed to? I mean, I really didn't do anything with it, I just climbed with it is all, nothing more, so it's likely I'm missing something here.

I also got the Pup's Pal and got it on my system, holy shit way more comfortable, lighter, holds the croll up very well, no more ugly struggling with my chest harness!! Any of you folk with frogs there...get a Pup's Pal. Best $6 you'll ever spend. Richard and one of the other guys I can't remember his name but whoever does a lot of the vertical training for the louisville grotto were helping me play with some other things on my own system on rope - just some various ways to work on cutting down excess bits and some great new footloops. I ended up getting some stuff from On Rope 1 (<3 OR1, Bruce is great either that or he just liked I kept going over there to get things xD OH and I got a new cavepack from them since mine is so busted it really doesn't work anymore. IT IS PINK. OMG. PINK WITH PURPLE AND BLUE TRIMSTUFFS. OMG SO AWESOME and it held up well all weekend! I was dragging it behind me on my foot in crawls, tossing it down, shoving it in front of me, trying out different ways of wearing it with the straps since it's so adjustable that way...I love it!).

Next day I thought I might stay above ground (I'd not been sleeping well at night, last time I camp on the party side. I'd be fine if it were not for people in wee morning hours deciding to every 30-45 min randomly yell crap back and forth) and do some more on rope stuff since there were folks there for doing whatever it is you wanted to try and practice. But I ended up waking up anwyay with the streaming bright sun in time for the 8:15am leaving trip to Big Bat. John and Sai (who had come down the day before) and Bill (from the other day on rope) were going on it so ehhh fine. A group of 16 people, door to door in 6.5 hrs. Or, according to urm...uh...I really should remember trip leader's name but I fail...6hrs and 17min. But that was him door to door, I was 7th out of the Mushroom entrance so more than 17min for me :P

We went in through Natural and came out the Mushroom entrance, seeing the formation room and Helictite Heaven on the way.

Formation Room:

Big Bat Cave 01 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Big Bat Cave 02 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Big Bat Cave 07 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

is the whitestuff moonmilk?

Big Bat Cave 08 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Big Bat Cave 10 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

I love the water drop/ripple I got in this one :D

Big Bat Cave 13 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Annnnndddd Helictite Heaven

Big Bat Cave 17 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

What the heck is on the left in this photo? Is that a "bottle brush"?

Big Bat Cave 15 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

It was a really fun trip. There were some folks along I didn't like for sure...didn't pay much attention to some things including a pool that has...poolfingers? which aparently t his is the "only cave with confirmed pool fingers this side of the Mississippi" idiots. And some were in cotton and liked to stand in the waterfalls anyway and then got cold.  :doh: but overall since I wasn't in that section of the group I actually didn't know about some of that until the end and I had a blast. Sadly the pool with the poolfingers on the way out to the Mushroom entrance had mud in the water, I did not get a clear photo and those complaining of cold were shivering so I couldn't stop and figure out how to get a better shot :( but to me it seems like one of the above photos has the same just smaller version of the same formations that were in that pool so I'm a bit confused as to what a pool finger actually is.

I had a great time there, can you tell? I need to sleep though, really. ~20 hrs of decent sleep since last Wednesday is not enough!

Pleaseeeeeeee feel free to answer various questions I've posed throughout like about the ropewalker and poolfingers and what the heck that one formation was (bottlebrush?) or why some of those crystals were actually brown. Kinda looked like rock candy xD.
Sunguramy, my cave photography and blog website

Offline Roger W

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Re: Speleofest 2011
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2011, 08:13:06 pm »
Sounds like a reet good time, Amy!

That formation "on the left" could be a short fat carrot if it's the one I think you mean.
"That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves:  you don't know how far they go back, sometimes... or what is waiting for you inside."   JRR Tolkein: "The Hobbit"

Offline Amata

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Re: Speleofest 2011
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2011, 08:29:31 pm »
haha yeah it does look like a carrot! It is just attached with a narrow kinda sodastrawshape stem and then its the carrot shape. I was thinking upside down pine tree but yes carrot describes it better. That's called a carrot, really? haha! I didn't know that, makes sense though!
Sunguramy, my cave photography and blog website