Crevice Cave Survey, July 17, 2010
Today, SEMO members, Chad McCain, Eric and Dana Hooper; along with MSM members Ian King, Tyler Allen, Chris Doerhoff, Joe and Kris Nicolussio; MVG member Jennifer Thompson; and NNG members Ralph Sawyer, Bill Morrow, L.J. Tognetti, Todd and Laura McCartney; entered Echo Pit and traveled 3.5 miles to the downstream sump to survey back towards the Eternity Room. I was the last surveyor in and I entered the pit at 9:00 a.m. Just before I went in, I decided to take off with the survey crew, and leave the NNG guys to come in behind us on their own. They agreed to the plan and they actually caught up with us at the Blue Nile/Eternity Passage junction at the base of the Paradise Room.
We left the NNG group to rest and we managed to reach the Eternity Room in 2 hours and 15 minutes with small breaks. By 12:00 p.m. we reached our survey point and Joe Nicolussi started sketching from the last deep pool of water before the sump, heading upstream. Everyone stayed with Joe while I took Tyler and Eric to the sump and set a permanent station on the ceiling above the sump. We wrapped a protrusion from the ceiling with a black zip tie and started shooting forward. We tried to hammer a maze nail into the wall, but the limestone was too hard, and the nails I chose to purchase weren’t heavy duty enough as they bent.
While sketching between the 2nd and 3rd shot I noticed a ceiling joint on the left bank while facing upstream. Eric crawled into it and noticed it was a tight joint that he could crawl into. With excitement of seeing spotted salamanders, he crawled up the tight joint and into a small room. I was hoping this passage was going to be a significant offshoot, but it was no more than a dome joint with a drain in the floor. As the survey continued, we learned that the drain in the floor lead to a mud valley passage in the main stream that delivered the water flow to the main stream.
As the next shots were set up, L.J. and Bill braved the last deep pool of water to come see the sump. While they were checking out the sump, I heard some loud laughter and yelling. Apparently one of the largest bullfrogs that was by the sump thought Bill was a cricket, lunged at him, hit him in the chest, then dove into the water, quite humorous indeed. Eric and Tyler made the shots through the deep water and moved onto dry ground to warm up while I finished surveying. By time I caught up we had already completed 300 feet of survey and it was 2:00 p.m.
We moved up past the other survey crew and did another shot upstream, while leaving a couple shots between the other group. Todd, Laura, Bill and Ralph decided to head to the Paradise Room to do some photography. As we finished the last shot, the other survey crew caught up and we decided to call it a day. While we only surveyed for 3 hours, we acquired about 870 feet of survey, 50 of which was new survey. We packed our gear, put on dry clothes from our packs, ate and took off towards the Blue Nile junction which would take us back to Echo Pit.
We moved through the Eternity Room and L.J. showed me where he crawled through the top ceiling in the room and discovered some Bluewater pit rope on the floor. I retrieved the rope to put it to a better use, other than rotting away in the Eternity Room. He also told us how they got lost in the Eternity Room, for obvious reasons, as they couldn’t find our foot prints to follow. It was pretty comical to imagine if you have ever been to the room.
We moved through the deep mud and onto the easier walking passage and made good time upstream. We took a 10 minute break near the entrance to North Merlins and found tons of bone fossils in the gravel bank. After we rested, we moved on and got to the Blue Nile junction. We noticed two Swaygo packs on the ground so we headed up to the Paradise Room to meet up with the rest of the NNG crew. Joe, Kris, Ian and Chris decided to head upstream to the pit and get a jump start on climbing out.
I led the others up the breakdown pile and into the Paradise Room where Ralph was busy taking tons of photos. Hopefully he got some good shots. Eric and I showed the others who hadn’t seen the room, the Paradise Formation at the base of the room. As the photography ended, we went back to the Nile junction, retrieved our packs and headed up the ¼ mile stoop walk. I immediately fell behind due to knee pain, while the others blew past me and headed out. I figured it was best if people got to the pit faster anyway so I would have less time to wait at the pit after getting there. L.J., Ralph, Bill and I hung back at a slower pace and eventually arrived at the pit. Joe, Kris, Todd and Laura were already topside when we showed up.
As the others made their way up the rope, I was the last one out as I had to finish the pit profile sketch from the waterfall passage survey. While waiting on Ralph and L.J. to climb out, I took the time to fill in the large pot hole at the bottom of the pit, with rocks from the floor. Unfortunately I left my survey pack on a ledge and started climbing. After an extremely painful 90 foot climb, I realized the book was at the bottom of the pit, so I did a changeover and went back down to retrieve my book. I made the climb again, which was even more painful than the first time, finished the sketch and made it out of the pit at 9:00 p.m. Paul Hauck was waiting for us topside and I was able to give him all of the survey notes from today’s survey and the previous survey’s since he was here. He told us about his survey into Mertz with Richard Young today, and we told him about everything that we discovered today. An amazing trip indeed!