N Means There is No Turkey for Jerry!

Back to less known caves for N! The cave survey database has a short story in it about how Jerry’s mom was sick over Thanksgiving, so he didn’t get any turkey. Caves can have funny names like that. For another example, O Positive, so named because it was an enlarged entrance which one of the people lost a bit of blood to!

The coordinates were slightly off, so Robert took a new GPS point. We had a verbal description of “at the base of a tree near a flat rock, a small triangular entrance about 2 x 2 feet”. Well, around here, everything fits that. Trees near flat rocks? Unheard of in karst terrain, right? ha! We did eventually find it!

No Turkey Entrance holeThe tree does make a great rig! Robert went first as he was the smallest there, and he slid through without any trouble. As there was no map we had no clue what this pit looked like, and in fact, the database had this mixed up with Blasted Shirt Well, so we really had no idea what we were getting into. Robert hollered up there was enough space, so down I went. It was easier than I thought to negotiate the tiny hole.

I was pleasantly surprised with our “find”. About halfway down some water comes into the pit from a little tiny hole, and from there on is flowstone. Massive amounts of flowstone, all the way down. Eventually it breaks into two curtains, that would be bacon, if bacon were a foot thick! There is also another dome room, and a high lead that I suspect there is an entire parallel dome.

Looking UpwardThe bottom of the pit forms a funnel of sorts, and there is a large collection of bones from multiple bodies. Lots of rodents judging by the teeth on some of the skulls, and some odd larger weight bearing bones such as (I believe was) a femur. The larger ones were not from a small rodent. It was quite creepy! Here is a photo of about a third of what was there.

BonesRobert went to head on out. I worked on doing a little bit of photography and exploring, being sure to stay out of the rockfall zone of course. There are some pretty little helectites and nice fluting and water sculpting on the walls. Some time goes by and Robert is just about off rope. All of a sudden we hear a very emphatic “ROCK!!!!!” The bottom of the cave is a funnel of sorts, an angled narrowing loose rock floor. While neither Brian or I were in direct danger, a crushed foot still is no fun. In making a dive for cover behind a large boulder to protect from anything that rolled, I managed to twist my ankle and bang my knee on a sharp rock. It’s enough to get you a bit shaky, but these things happen. We hollered up we were fine, of course. No one really knew where it came from, there wasn’t anything loose anyone had seen.

I decided it was time to get out, my left leg was shaking but I didn’t want to look at it until I’d climbed out of the pit even though it was starting to throb. So I got on rope and started to climb, keeping an eye for any rope damage we hadn’t seen. Usually I climb more left-sided, meaning I tend to make more progress on my ropewalker with my left step. But this time I actually climbed more on my right, and rested my left as much as possible as I realized as soon as I started putting weight on it that there was something off with my ankle. I didn’t see any bad spots in the rope, so that was good news!

About 10 feet from the top, I saw an empty spot. There was some dirt still in place on the top and bottom, it was basketball sized but more rectangular. Well, I found where the rock came from! Everything in that layer looked like part of the solid wall of the pit. Sure there was some dirt because it was near the surface but all the walls appeared and felt solid. Sometimes, it’s just a rock’s turn to fall.

It was actually easier to make it out of the tiny hole than it was to slide in, much to my surprise. On solid ground I checked my knee, and I had about a 1/8 inch deep, 1″ long and 1/2 inch wide bat-shaped cut. No kidding. It looks like a classic bat shape. All the skin is just gone in precisely the shape of a bat. Maybe I’m a little weird, but I think that’s pretty cool. Rock falls, knee gets banged, and I’m sure it will be an awesome bat scar! My ankle was sore but just bruised and a bit swollen. No harm done.

The rope has a different ending. Near the bottom of the pit is a ledge, and the rock hit the rope at that ledge. So our rope had a baby rope, what was a 200 foot rope is now a 65 and 135.

Brian the Rope RatWe did survey the cave as the ACS database had no map for it. So enjoy! This tiny hole in the ground is actually quite lovely and worth a visit. There is a high lead so I’d like to return someday and check that out.

Brian in the Entrance

No Turkey for Jerry3

M is for Moses Tomb

A divergence from the more rarely visited or forgotten caves, I went to Moses Tomb on January 1st! It is arguably a TAG Classic and it has been on my “to-do” list for a long time. The whole mountainside got hit bad by tornadoes a few years back, and it took a while to create a new trail. Still, surrounding us everywhere was massive damage. We finally made it up to the entrance…which with all the downed trees has a pretty nice view.

Rigging to TreesThe pit entrance is so tiny but I’ve been in tighter. I was amazed at all the flowstone and other speleothems that appeared once inside. The tiny hole bells out and gets to be a nice size area.

Annette Coming out of Moses TombAnnette negotiating the tight entrance.

There is a lovely little side area that we had some fun with. Brian was the first down, followed by Jen aka Google (we have many Jen/Jenny/Jennifers here, nicknames are starting to appear!). Then I rappelled. There is a small hole at the floor level in this decorated spot, and we shoved the rope down it to play a prank! Google hid around the corner, and Brian and I told Ty once he arrived to just stay on rope, and check out the nice lower level. He went over and looked at it…and said, “nawww.” So I egged him on with, “Oh come on, I fit! I didn’t even get that muddy, see?” Of course that made it so he *had* to try to check it out! All in all we had him going for a few minutes, and then he saw Google hiding above where he was. We attempted to prank Ken and Annette as well, but it didn’t work as well.

Ken in the TombThe side room with decorations.

Google hopped on rope first to climb out. While she was busy making her way up, I started to set up for some pit photos. Classic sort of lighting here, and you get an idea of scale with Google about halfway up the pit.

Moses Tomb PanoramicI really prefer higher contrast though, I feel it enhances the sense of being in cave. So I decided to try a second photo with different lighting to develop this style I am loving. I’ve started to trend towards it in my cave photography and am now actively trying to evolve my technique for it. And check it out…the flowstone towers come alive!

Moses Tomb Contrast LightingIt was a fun day with fun new friends, laughs, giggles, pranks, and good food. I can’t ask for a better way to start 2015!