THE TEXAS CAVER VOLUME 35, NO. 1 FEBRUARY 1990 3 Mexpeleo 1989: A Special Report Susie Lasko, Don Broussard, Carol Vesely, Bill Farr, Alejandro Villagomez, Nancy Weaver Oren Tranbarger 10 Letters To The Editor 11 Cave Surveying & Mapping: Why How And Where George Veni 18 Cave Rescue Call Down Update List Bob Cowell 18 Calendar Of Upcoming Events 19 Positive Or Negative James Jasek 20 Computers And Caving William R. Elliott, Ph. D. 25 Texas' Largest Bat Caves Kurt Menking 27 Cave Video James Loftin ALTERNATING EDITORS Thi s Issu e Ore n Tra nb a rger 3 407 H o p e crest S a n Antonio, Texas 78230 (512 ) 5 2 2-2710 -D a y (512 ) 349 0208 Night Next Issue Dale Pate P O. Box 1251 Austin, Texas 78767 (512) 832-5791 Day (512) 339-8090 Night PROOFREADERS Bill R a mbo and Barbara Tranbarger TEXAS CAVER LABELS Rod Goke PRINTING AND BINDING Priority Copy 9905 Burnet Road Au s tin, Texas 78758 CAVE RESCUE CALL COLLECT (512) 686-0234 P age 2 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 TIID TEXAS CAVER is a bimonthly publication of Speleological Associat i on (TSA), an internal organization of Speleological Society (NSS). Issues are published in r"etJru:arv. October, and December Subscription rates : which includes a $4.00 fee for membersh i p in TSA ; of-state subscribers libraries and other institut i ons Single are available for $2.00 each by mail post paid; $1.00 each at Send all correspondence (other than material for the TellliS subscription fees and newsletter exchanges to : The TcllliS Caver, P 8026, Austin, Texas 78713. ARTICLES AND MATERIAL for the TcllliS Caver should be alternating editors listed at left. The TellliS Caver openly trip reports, photographs (35 mm slides or any size black and color print on glossy paper), cave maps equipment items news cartoons, and/or any other caving-related material for publication. COPYRIGIIT 1990 by the Texas Speleological Association organizations of NSS may reprint any item first appearing in Caver as long as proper credit is given and a copy of the containing the material is mailed to the co-editors Other should contact the co-editors about materials. FRONT COVER (Photo by James Jasek, 1988) Bob Cowell Antonio Texas is preparing for a 100-foot (30 5-m) rappel in the shaft at Bracken Bat Cave Coma! County, Texas. Annual trips are during January/February to rappel into the cave through the mine During the summer months bat flight trips occur frequently to one of the biggest bat colonies found in the US INSIDE COVER (Photo by James Jasek, 1963) Nathan Summar is exploring Rompels Cave, Coma! County Tex as. Nathan lias been inactive in past years but is pre sently resuming caving activities and teaches school in San Antonio. BACK COVER (Photo by James Jasek 198 8) Troy Bishop is stan ding in the entrance of Frio Bat Cave U v alde County, Texas. Guano was once mined from this cave
MEXPELEO 1989: A SPECIAL REPORT by Susie Lasko, Don Broussard, Carol Vesely, Bill Farr, Alejandro Villagomez, Nancy Weaver Oren Tranbarger The first major international caving convention in Mexico occurred December 26-30, 1989 at Covadonga which is 10 km (6.2 miles) south of Ciudad Valles, S.L.P., Mexico. This was truly a significant internation a l caving convention attended by 223 registrants from: United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Italy, and Brazil. The success of Mexpeleo 1989 is due to the efforts of Peter Sprouse and Susie Lasko (AMCS) who worked so diligently in planning every aspect of the conference along with Ramon Espinasa, SMES. The following article leads off with an introduction by Susie, and includes several reports of trip s that were accomplished and a description of the Saturday afternoon workshops. Because of the extensive scope of activities that occurred throughout the week, only a few of the trip reports and highlights are includ e d in this special report on Mexpeleo. INTRODUCTION By Susie Lasko It has been at least three years since the first time I heard Peter (Sprouse) talk about organizing a caving convention in Mexico. And it was during the March 1989 Tecolote expedition when he finally met Ram6n Espinasa, from the Mexico City caving club SMES (Sociedad Mexicana de Exploraciones Subterraneas), when plans for Mexpeleo 1989 really started to gel. With considerable effort, including hours of phone time, and two trips to Valles, the Covadongo (resort) was leased for the last week of December Much time was spent on preparing materials that would be useful during the convention like area maps and project files. Armed with these things along with slide screens, projectors, computer and printer, off we headed for exactly what, we w ere n t sure, but we knew it would be an adventure. On arrival at the Covadonga Sunday December 24, 1989, we were greeted by the typical Mexican disorganization but after finding the proper person and convincing him we really were s upposed to be there, we started unloading and preparing the grounds for the convention. By Monday night December 25, 1989, we were ready to open the registration table to about 25 pre-convention arrivals By Tuesday morning December 26, 1989, 41 people had registered. The registration table was open every day and by late Wednesday, Mexpeleo had 223 registrants from seven countries representing: Australia, Brazil, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Mexico, and United States. TRIP REPORTS VENADITO REVISITED By Don Brouss.ard The original survey to S6tano del Venadito was never published The notes eventually disappeared. Mexpeleo provided the opportunity to begin the resurvey of this extensive cave high in the Sierra de El Abra. The hills 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Cd. Valles have the of containing many small deer. The main arroyo east of the highway was named Little Deer Arroyo. Qn our daily 45 minute walk through the scrub thorn'.:.forest we walked over many small deer prints in th'e paths between the mesquite and cactus. When local THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 3
farmers found a huge shaft spanning the bottom of the 25-meter (82-foot) wide arroyo, they of course called it Little Deer Pit. In the rainy season many square kilometers of surface drain into the entrance. Fortunately, December marks the beginning of the dry season. The resurvey of Venadito on December 29, 1989 by Don Broussard, Sara Gayle and William Storage culminated three previous trips which began D e cember 26, 1989 to locate and rig the S6tano. A t o tal of 15 cavers, coming from the countries of Au s tr a lia, Britain, Mexico, U.S. and Texas, contributed to the success of those four days. A 10x20 em (39x7. 9 inch) bridge in the middle of the arroyo on the high side of the Y e nadito entrance shaft was used as a rig point for th e entrance rope. The breakdown upstream in the a rr o y o was used to backup this less-than-optimum tie -off. The entrance rope used was 70 meters (239 f eet) long. The flrst caver to rappel in pendulumed a cross the lake and a 4-meter (13-foot) pothole of w a t e r at the bottom of the 55-meter (180-foot) e ntr a nce pitch to g e t to the floor of the passage. Aft e r tying the rope to an irregularity in the wall, the following cavers were able to pull themselves to the passage floor with minimal danger of swimming. The organic debris washed in with each year's rainy se a s on allows the water to be a good breeding ground for larvae and a trivial source of methane gas. A 3x5-meter (9.8x16.4-foot) side passage leaves the edge of the 4-meter (13 1-foot) pothole. Stor e y e xplored it for 30 meters (98.4 feet) to a 30m e t e r (98.4-foot) pit which needs to be rigged and explo r e d next time. The obvious passage, some 5 to 15 meters (16.4 to 49.2 feet) wide, immediately slopes s teeply down 2 meters (6.6 feet) of flowstone t o more flowstone in a 20-meter (65.6-foot) tall p a s sage Climbing up a ledge on the right wall, Chris Kerr found th e next rig point a few meters from th e next drop where the flowstone floor gently but inesc a pably becom e s the next shaft. A 30-meter (98.4-f o ot) rope was use d to rig this 25-meter (82f oot) pitch. A second irregularity in the wall, 1.5 m e ters ( 4.9 feet) abov e the flowstone floor, was used t o b a ckup the high tie-off on top of the ledge. We r ealize d that this 5 em (1.97 inches) of rock was n one to o secur e if th e top rig point gave way, so an extra rope w a s used to backup the backup to the end of the entrance rope The s e cond drop is all bulging flowstone, w ith g r avity f ee ding the rope into the narrowest p o rtion s of the pitch A stooping passage 8 meters Page 4 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 (26 2 feet) below the top of this drop connects with the entrance area before continuing as a downstream fossil crawlway. Another lead, 8x8 meters (26.2x26.2 feet), is halfway down the drop and on the opposite side. It too was not surveyed or explored. One of the tree trunks on the bottom of the second drop was propped against the wall for a foothold up into the 0.5-meter (1.6-foot) wide, 2-meter (6.6-foot) tall passage which we followed for 9 meters (29.5 feet) to the third drop. The floor is easily seen below; the survey plumbed it at 6 meters (19.7 feet). The only rig point is a remnant wedge of bedrock where a small joint did not quite remove all it should have. This trivial tie-off is 5 meters (16.4 feet) from the drop, so a twelve meter rope is needed here. We used another 10-meter (32 8-foot) rope to backup this rope to the bottom of the rope in the second drop. So far, all the pitches were backed up to a breakdown block up in the arroyo We had dropped into this next passage from a small window. To the southwest, Gayle climbed up out of talking distance. She came back in 10 minutes saying she had begun to crouch in order to continue, so we continued the survey in the opposite direction along the 5x10-meter (16.4x32 8-foot) passage. After 90 meters (295 3 feet) of smooth passage the bedrock floor became truck sized breakdown as the walls and ceiling arched out and up into a 'T' junction room. A lower level had appeared as the passage floor became breakdown. A 3-meter (9.8-foot) climbdown on the west side of the floor led to a lower rig point which only needed a 20-meter (65.6-foot) rope for the fmal 7-meter (22.9-foot) pitch This large room is also floored with breakdown, some the sizes of Winebagos. There was a deep, wide crack we reached climbing down under breakdown. It appear e d to drop 30 to 40 meters (94.4 to 131.2 feet). No good rig points were noticed anywhere near. My memory of 15 years ago tells me this is probably the l a st pitch before reaching the water passage at the lowest level where the blind cave fish live. The walls of this 'T' junction room w e re scoured clean several meters above the breakdown Normal, gray walls began above that. This room appears to fill with water on a regular basis Since we had no more rope we surveyed up the opposite side of the room from the crack in the floor. Survey station #17 was placed in a basketball sized alcove in a wall protrusion near the northeast corner of the largest Winebago sized breakdown block of the floo r The uptrending passage tapered to a 0.5-meter
(1.6-foot) tall with a dirt floor before we began derigging as we exited S6tano del Venadito. EL SOTANO Y LA CUEVA DE LOS MONOS by Oren Tranbarger Cavers Who Made The Trip Two trips were made to Los Monos on December 24, 1989 and December 26, 1989, respectively, and involved: Ricardo Arias Fernandez, Mexico City; Oren Tranbarger and Rob Bisset, San Antonio, Texas; Dawn Reed, Loveland, Colorado; and Don Denton Wichita Falls, Texas. Ricardo Special Friend Rob and I arrived at Mexpeleo Saturday evening before the activities officially started. Sunday morning, we met Ricardo who also had arrived early. Ricardo became our close friend and stayed at our camp at El Baiiito (across the highway from Covadonga) during the week. He also served as guide and translator. In broken English, Ricardo described Los Monos as being a 142-m (466-foot) pit having petroglyphs which he had explored on three previous visits. After hearing about the petroglyphs and the long drop that would be involved, preparations were made to visit Los Monos. First Trip Sunday, December 24, 1989 The turnoff to Los Monos is approximately 8 km (5 miles) north of Valles The road off Highway 85 at that point is a terrible 4-mile drive (6.4 km) for a 2-wheel drive Jeep. After parking the Jeep and assessing the time factor and the uncertainty of even being able to drive out, we decided not to take ropes to the cave, but to go see the cave and take photographs of the petroglyphs Since the hike to Los Monos requires approximately 1-1/2 hours through the jungle, it was questionable that it was even possible to return to camp before dark, particularly if any trouble was encountered. Putting all concerns aside and enjoying the beautiful place Mexico is, we followed Ricardo through the jungle. Being of true Indian descent, Ricardo could really track through the jungle hardly tiring at all. On previous trips, he had marked the rocks in the trail with yellow arrows. Seeing the pit and the petroglyphs in the cave at the top of the pit was very rewarding. Map of Los Monos Monday evening, various maps of the area and caves were posted during registration. One of them was a map of Los Monos. S. Bittinger, D. Broussard, P. Duncan, J. Fish, D. Honea, D. McKenzie, and C. Pickstone originally surveyed Los Monos in 1971. In addition to the cave above the pit, an extensive cave system exists at the bottom of the pit. A drop of approximately 62 meters (203 feet) is required to get into the lower levels of the cave after making the initial drop of 142 meters (466 feet) to the bottom of the pit. However, from the high side of the pit, the lower cave level is at a depth of 225 meters (738 feet). After reviewing the map, it was imperative to return to Los Monos to check out the pit and possibly investigate the lower levels of the cave. To accomplish all this would require an overnight stay in the cave. Second Trip Tuesday, December 26, 1989 Tuesday morning, efforts were directed toward organizing a return trip to Los Monos. In addition to Rob and Ricardo, Don Denton from Wichita Falls and his friend Dawn Reed from Loveland Colorado teamed up for the return trip. Don had 600 feet (183 meters) of rope Other shorter lengths of rope were also taken for the drop into the lower levels of the cave at the bottom of the deep pit. Departure from camp occurred at 11:30 a .m. It was interesting getting to know our new caving friends; however, driving over the same rough road again to get to the trailhead was a sickening fee ling knowing that one mishap could result in considerable damage to the Jeep Being fully loaded with g e ar etc., the hike through the jungle required two hours Don and Rob carried the heavy ropes. At The Pit At the pit, everyone ate and regained some strength. Don and Dawn were shown the upper cave and the petroglyphs. The pit was rigged on the low side. Ricardo would have preferred to rig the high side to miss obstacles. At the rig point it w a s necessary to drop over a ledge slightly b elow the lip. Rob accomplished the feat of dropping into the pit, rappelling with the rope bag below. Dawn was the second one down I followed Dawn As Ricardo was rappelling, a rock was dislodged The sound of falling rocks in this deep pit was awesome. Ricardo enjoyed the drop shouting with excitement on the THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 5
way down Don brought up the rear. By the time Don completed his drop, it was t:arly evening. In exploring the bottom of the pit, Rob soon found the passageway leading to the lower levels of the cave. Although extra rope was brought into the pit, many hours would have been required to explore the lower cave. Since it was the general consensus of the team to return to camp that night (to participate in other trips Wednesday), the lower cave was not explored. While at the bottom of Los Monos, there was time to think about events that might have transpired centuries ago. Ricardo speculated that the petroglyphs might have been the result of the Huastecan and Mayan cultures. The petroglyphs seem to indicate that the pit was used for human sacrifices. It could be that many unfortunate people met untimely deaths in this pit. I was the first one to begin climbing out of the pit and it occurred to me that some caver might meet an untimely death also because the rope we were climbing on was not in the best of shape. Relief and a sigh came after climbing out and yelling "off rope." A whistle was also used for signalling. Upper Cave Study While the others were climbing out, the upper cave was explored more fully and photographed. Years ago, someone was actively involved in archeological digs in the cave. Numerous test pits have been dug; however, no evidence of artifacts could be found. Only the petroglyphs can attest to whether any atrocities were ever committed in the cave. The cave contains an extraordinary tree root or vine This thing was at least 100 feet (30.5 m) long and exposed It could be used as a handline to climb up on the slopes in the cave. Generally, it was bigger at the bottom than at the top. At the bottom, it was approximately 2 inches (5 em) in diameter. The upper cave is warm and contains some forms of life. A few bats inhabit the cave and one big tarantula was found. Hike Out Through Jungle Hiking through the jungle at night is another experience. My machete was kept ready at all times for use for any unexpected encounter with wildlife tha t might be there On the way in, the machete P age 6 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 was used for blazing the trees which proved very useful on the way out. Also, flagging tape was used to identify various critical places on the trail. The hike out took longer than the hike in because of fatigue and more precautions along the trail. The last phase of the trip began on the drive out. Fortunately the fog lights on the Jeep provided enough light to get out and over the rough obstacles. It was 2:30 Wednesday morning when we returned to camp. Postscript Since the lower cave was not explored, another trip must be made someday for this purpose. Other cavers would have visited Los Monos if they had known about the petroglyphs and the mystic to be found at this special place. SOTANO DE CEPILLO by Alejandro Villagomez Team Members The team members included: Rod Goke, Katherine McClue, Alejandro (Alex) Villagomez, Rolando Montano y Lidia, Roger Gagnon et Francine, Marc Tremblay et amie, Rodolfo Peytark y su cuate, John y Susana Pint, Rod Frank, Victoria Island cavers, and others. General Sotano de Cepillo is among the prettiest and most accessible sotanos in Mexico and is just 20 minutes from Tamapatz on the trail to El Rancho de Aguamarga. Cepillo has many similarities to El Sotano de las Golondrinas and has a vertical free drop of 120 meters (394 feet). Preparations After discussions with Peter Sprou s e on Tuesday, December 26, 1989, arrangements were completed to lead 10 vertically competent cavers to this cave on Friday, December 29, 1989. It is frightening to me to make trips with cavers that I do not know because my worst trips have occurred with cavers which I did not know. Our group was late leaving Covadonga Friday morning. About 20 cavers left after I told them we would eventually catch up. Rigging And Descent We all arrived at the pit entrance around 2 :20 p.m. The rope was rigged in European fashion
to avoid troubles at the edge of pit so that cavers could climb in tandem. It took about 30 minutes to get organized and to begin descending into the pit. It was like a mall on Thanksgiving weekend with all the activity and people. El Ascenso By appointment of the Queen, the British Canadian group climbed out first. At this point, our luck ran out since the last caver in this group got sick on rope and had to be rescued. Fortunately, the European technique used for rigging the rope allowed us to set up an efficient pulley system. A Petzl jammer and a pulley were used to get enough slack on the rope to set up a Z-type pulley system. The Z-type pulley system was unnecessary, however, since there was plenty of manpower. The climber was pulled out and rescued in a matter of minutes. It was hard to believe how fast and efficient the overall rescue operation had been. This rescue was easier than most practice rescues where everything is perfect. My congratulations are expressed to the fme crew of cavers that helped on this minor rescue. Finally by 11:00 p.m., everybody was out of the pit. Overall, around 20 cavers made the drop and ascent in one day which is very good. Tamapatz When we returned to Tamapatz, I encountered some old friends from the VPI Cave Club. After a few coronas and good-byes, the caravan was ready to go with the exception of Mitch who is from the UK, but presently lives in Mexico (Colima). His truck would not start. Following Katherine McClure's advice, a screw driver was used to hit the starter solenoid. This worked, and a minute later his truck was ready to roll for another 100,000 miles (160,900 km), or so we thought. The Pemex At Tampaxal After the town of Tampaxal which is 10 miles (16 km) from the highway, Mitch's truck ran out of gas and required a truck-to-truck transfusion in the middle of a very muddy spot of the road. Return To Covadonga It was 3:30 a.m. Saturday (December 30, 1989) when we returned to camp at Covadonga. Finally, I could rest knowing that everything was over and I was within steps of my master bedroom. In retrospect, I must admit that we had a lot of fun. It was great that everybody had the chance to meet and work together "What a team!" CUEVA DE LA SELVA by Nancy Weaver On December 26, 1989, Allan Cobb, Delia Dogbreath, John Fogerty, Mark Minton, and Nancy Weaver drove out of the Covadonga Hotel grounds headed for Xilitla. Our Xmas present from Mexpeleo: a crawlway lead with good airflow in Cueva de Ia Selva just southwest of town We disembarked at the wide curve on the highway armed with a location map sketched 25 years ago, and started downhill, across cleared pastures with centuries old rock walls snaking around them. Then the trail entered a coffee plantation, sadly browned by the recent hard freeze, and wound through gorgeous karst pinnacles dripping with lime loving ferns, bromeliads, and succulents. Through some backyards, over a stile, into an orange grove and there we were the vast opening of Selva curving like the hood of a cobra above and around us. Curious purplish-green light engulfed us as we picked our way down steps hacked into the steep mudbank by generations of locals in pursuit of water. Selva is essentially a giant entrance chamber with two smaller passages disappearing into darkness. The right hand passage quickly narrows and fills with water. But a short ways before the sump is a side tube with blasting airflow. We slithered through decreasing dimensions, over pools of water, into a small dome with belly crawling beyond to the lead: a blocked gravel floored tube. The wind was so vigorous, we used our packs to block the passage while the obstruction was assessed and assailed. After some work on the walls, John could crawl through, but Allan, next up, stuck. We excavated what we could of the floor, and with much squirming and some whimpering everyone, including Delia, was through. Beyond, the passage enlarged but was much muddier. We made a climb up into a fine dome room where the air whisked into an impenetrable slot. As we checked every corner of the room, we discovered numerous signatures on the walls. It would appear that an entire Mexican Boy Scout troop had preceded us. The only claim we can safely make is that we accompanied the first American dog to the very back of Cueva de la Selva. THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 7
RETURN TO SOTANO DEL TIGRE by Bill Farr S6tano del Tigre is a classic arroyo cave located about 4 km (2.5 miles) northwest of Ejido de Los Sabinos. In the past, John Fish and others surveyed about 3 km (1.9 miles) in the cave, but a map was never produced. To remedy this situation and to provide some organized trips for those interested, a resurvey of the cave was attempted. The cave begins with an 80-meter (262.5foot) pitch, offset with a plunge pool about two thirds of the way down. This leads to a short trunk section to a second drop of 15 meters (49 feet) to the main section of cave. In the past, I had followed the main stream trend of the cave to the terminal bad air sump, remembering that this distance totaled about 2 km (1.2 miles) of cave. So it seemed reasonable to be able to survey this main passage and about 1 km (0.62 miles) of other side leads in a week by drawing from a crowd of 200 cavers. For the first trip on Tuesday, December 26, 1989, I was accompanied by a group of three Italian cavers, Girgio Rusconi, Augusto Bucciano, and Vittorio Grassi, along with five British cavers, Katherine Force, Steve Foster, Paul Eastwood, Alan Box, and Paul Ibberson, and one Canadian, Chris Lloyd. We found the cave with only one wrong turn, and proceeded to rig with some old 11-mm (0.433 -inch) Bluewater prompting discussions of the virtues of 11 mm (0.433 inches) vs 10 mm (0.394 inches) vs 9 mm (0.354 inches) vs 8 mm (0.315 inches), vs 7 mm (0.276 inches), but we were all stopped cold when Chris pulled out a wad of 6 mm (0.236 inches) and said he was happy to rig with that! Even the Brits were taken aback. The plan was to split into three groups: one to survey the entrance shaft and the passages before the second drop, one to survey starting at the main streamway wades, and the last to survey between the second drop and the water. Dropping three of the Brits at the water, I began to survey back to the base of the second drop with the Italians. Only one of the Italians spoke any English, however, making it hard to communicate. Coupled with their very different survey style (i.e., not setting stations on solid surfaces and not drawing a plan), surveying was slow going. The bottom team surveyed about 450 meters (1,476 feet) in the water and bad air, while the entrance team surveyed about 300 meters (984 feet), being stopped by a debris choke in one passage, and Page 8 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 leaving another loop unfinished due to too many bats exiting at dusk. The middle team surveyed over the top of a 6-m (19.7-foot) drop into a bat passage to a very tight terminus and checked an alcove on the way out where an unexpected canyon was found. This canyon led to a small belly-crawl tube that then dropped into a larger tube with an active streamway going both ways. The downstream passage stopped at a 3-m (9.8-foot) drop requiring a handline, while the upstream passage split through some impressive blindftsh pools, leading to another downstream route that sumped and two upstream routes still going The total length of the upstream and downstream routes was about 250 meters (820 feet). Overall, a total of 1 km (3,281 feet) of passage was explored and surveyed during the first day. Trouble struck on the way out due to the difficulty of communications with the Italians. The intent was to leave the cave rigged for the next day with a rebelay at the pool so that the entrance rope could not be pulled up if it was united at the top. Misunderstanding this, they derigged the second drop and rebelay. The result was that upon returning the next day with Sara Gayle, Bill Storage, Ruth Diamante, Carol Vesely, and two cavers from Corsica, there was no rope --it had been stolen! Oh well, the rope was almost 14 years old and in bad shape anyway. Having insufficient rope to rerig the cave, we went off for a tourist bop in Tinaja instead. It was obvious that a third trip could not frnish the cave. The goal was to survey all the miscellaneous stuff, leaving the rest of the main stream passage so that it would be an attractive survey to do while passing through the area in the future. So, on Friday, December 29, 1989, we borrowed some rope from Peter Sprouse and returned to the cave. This time, I was accompanied by Ruth Diamante, Carol Vesely, Dave Bunnell, and Djuna Bewely. Quickly rigging the first two drops, we set off for the drop into the bat passage. The plan was to survey this passage ftrst, and then to clean up the unexpected streamway found on Tuesday. Dropping about 6 meters (19.7 feet), we landed in a fair-sized room with an obvious passage going off. For the sake of thoroughness, we decided to take a shot across the room to the upper corner while Dave checked out the apparent main route. Several hours and several hundred meters later, we were fed up with the heat, stink, guano, bugs, and bats without coming to an end! Every time it seemed the passage was about to end, it opened up after ducking through a small hole. Imagine a living carpet of millipedes, centipedes, ticks, and half-dead bats, sinking through them in knee-deep guano.
We never did get to either of the other passages (Dave said it went to 100 meters (328 feet) to another drop) or to the other streamways. With about 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) mapped, and at least 500 meters (1,640 feet) more seen outside of the main downstream trend, it seems likely that the cave will end up longer than 3 km (1.9 miles). If the survey ever gets finished, that is. CUEVA DEL AIRE by Carol Vesely As part of Mexpeleo, Peter Sprouse asked me if I would be willing to map Cueva del Aire, a "short" horizontal cave that had been investigated by Mark Minton and other cavers several years earlier. Judging from the quick sketch map that Mark had made at the time, Aire appeared to be a straightforward 200-meter (656-foot) long cave consisting of a big room and a meandering passage leading to a second entrance I figured surveying Aire would be a simple day-long project, so I agreed to do it. I didn't realize what I had gotten myself into. The next day, I spoke to Mark, who told me that although the cave was small, it was quite complex. The big room sloped very steeply and was divided into many smaller chambers by massive flowstone columns Mark also mentioned that the cave was frequently used for religious rituals. On Mark's trip, the cavers accidentally stumbled into the big room in the middle of a ceremony. They were about to sneak out the way they had come when a young boy spotted them and insisted that the cavers join in the ritual. For the next hour, they watched as the men lit candles on a stalagmite altar, chanted and sprinkled the formations with alcohol (helping themselves to some in between). This explained the name of the second entrance to the cave, Cueva del Brujo. The next day, about 9 people including several Mexican cavers, and a young boy and his dog accompanied me to the cave. Since none of us had ever been there before, it took us a while to find it. We suspected that there would be a trail to the cave, made by the locals. We drove to the town of Huichihuyan and took the road from the town square toward the mountains. We parked at a bridge and followed a well-worn trail upstream along the opposite side of the river. We finally rea c hed the resurgence located below the entrances to the cave and started looking for a trail up the hill. As we were searching, a local guy arrived at the spring and he pointed out the trail through a steep field. On the way up to the cave, Julie's son brushed against some mala mujer weeds. He tried to be brave, but he was obviously in pain, so Max gave him some medication. At the small, stooping-height entrance, we noticed several remnants of candles, the first of many signs of brujo activity. We began surveying. I was the only person who knew how to sketch. Phil, Julie, and Max had some survey experience and the rest were eager to learn and help Just as I suspected, all the extra people actually slowed things down rather than helping. I kept having to answer questions and explain things, which is very disruptive when you are trying to sketch a complex area. Luckily, I have led beginner surveys before, so I was somewhat accustomed to it. In addition, Julie was a real help. Not only did she know how to survey, but she was very good at explaining things to the Mexican cavers. Just inside the entrance, the cave opened up into a moderate-sized room with lots of old formations and piles of brujo artifacts everywhere. There were chicken bones, feathers, candles, bottles, clothes, coins, pots, and lots of other assorted trash. Everyone was kept busy investigating these items and poking into the nooks and crannies of the room. One side passage led to a high room filled with bats and fresh, smelly guano. After surveying the room, we followec.l a meandering passage with strong airflow, which took off from the bottom corner of the room. The passage changed into a narrow sloping fissure that became tight in a few spots due to excessive deposits of flowstone. As we were surveying, Julie's son suddenly got very sleepy from the pain killer he had taken and fell asleep in Max's lap. When he awoke, both of them were quite chilled. Phil, our lead checker, reported that the passage continued as a tight, sloping fissure for a few more stations and then opened into a huge, complex chamber. It was obvious that there was more cave than we could possibly survey on one trip, so with only 20 stations surveyed, we decided to head out and come back another day. We still had not seen the other entrance. Two days later, I returned with a totally different crew. At the entrance, we met a group of locals who had also come to visit the cave. One of them had a bottle of alcohol and a shot glass. He was very friendly and offered a glass of booze to everyone in our group individually After conversing and asking the locals if it would be okay for us to enter the cave, we all proceeded in as a group I THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 9
began by surveying the bat-ftlled side passage, while the Mexicans lit candles near the entrance. Then five of us headed to the last survey station, while a small group stayed behind to take pictures. Soon, we had surveyed into the big room. From that point, it was clear which way to go to the rest of the cave. The room was developed at such a steep slant with so many large formations obstructing the view that you could only see a small portion of the room at a time. We stayed low, surveying along the bottom wall. We downclimbed into several obscure holes, but it seemed no matter where we went, we found old coins, candles, or chicken bones. While we were surveying, some of the others left the cave and hiked uphill to the second entrance We could see their lights at the top of a steep chimney. Finally, we began surveying up the room, toward the entrance (or so we thought). We climbed over some massive dry rimstone dams, up to 3 meters (9. 8 feet) high. Along one wall were impressive flowstone draperies. It was a pretty area, despite the fact that the formations were dry. From the top of the rimstone dams, we could see into a large black void that sloped downward. This room was even bigger than we thought. We knew that the second entrance was higher, not lower, so we doubled back trying to follow the air. Finally, we climbed up a series of steep slopes and short climbs. One of the others had come in to look for us and we could see his light high above. It was obvious that we would need at least another four hours to finish surveying the cave, maybe longer. Since Bill Farr and I were scheduled to give a presentation on Sistema Cuicateco that evening, we had to return to Covadonga. We abandoned the survey with over 400 meters (1,312 feet). On the way out, we noticed about half a dozen candles burning on the flowstone altar near the entrance. We climbed out into the twilight knowing we would have to return to this complex little cave. WORKSHOPS Some of the concluding activities on Saturday, December 30, 1989 included workshops on: (1) cave rescue (Arturo Montero); (2) handmade caving gear (John Pint); and (3) European-style rigging (Paul lbberson). The workshops were very informative and were well attended The caving techniques used in Europe were most intriguing in the use of rebelays, rope protection philosophy, climbing equipment, clothing, etc. During the European-style rigging workshop, the Frog climbing system was described and demonstrated. Prior to Mexpeleo, very few Texas cavers would ever consider the use of the Frog system because of its inefficiency on long climbs. However, the agility possible using this system in negotiating deviations, rebelays, and traverses surpasses a typical ropewalker system. Although the long-climb efficiency of the Frog system is not as good as a ropewalker system, a couple of Europeans climbed out of Golondrinas by using the Frog system. The conclusion drawn from the Frog system is that there is not necessarily a superior climbing system, and the type of climbing system used depends on the requirements. In the future, the Frog system will probably be more generally used by Texas cavers. LEITERS TO TilE EDITOR Dear Editor: Charlie Loving made me do it! In the December 1989 Texas Caver I actually made some errors in my article "Travis County: Endangered Species, Endangered Caves". Readers, please note that on p. 110 I should have said, "A projection of this 20-year destruction rate indicates there may be only 73 percent of the caves left in Travis County by the year 2000. By the year 2050, there may be only 37 percent (60 caves) remaining." The erroneous figures I published made the destruction rate look worse than it is. However, there's not much reason to rejoice, because the corrected rate still indicates that, unless something is done, we may lose our caves in Travis County about the year 2100 AD. William R. Elliott Page 10 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990
CAVE SURVEYING & MAPPING: WHY, HOW AND WHERE An overview for beginning and advanced cave surveyors by George Veni (all photos by the author) INTRODUCTION Recently, I held an informal class for the Bexar Grotto on cave surveying and map making and, as a result, was asked to write a comprehensive article on the subject for the Texas Caver. Knowing that such a topic is too broad to be fully covered in one article, or even in a complete issue of the Texas Caver, I've prepared this overview as an introduction for the beginning surveyor, but have included details and information that may be useful to people who have been mapping caves for many years. WHY SURVEY? Cavers survey caves out of practicality or cunos1ty. Access to some of the best caves (in Texas and around the world) is often through mapping projects due to the caves' extensive nature, or at the cave owners' request. Many owners won't open their caves to sport trips, but they will allow you to make them a map. To see such caves is to help with the project, which usually means helping with the survey. Cavers who detest surveying, but survey in such caves, do so because they are practical; if they don't survey, they won't be able to visit the cave. All cavers are curious about "where a cave goes," yet the second type of cave surveyor is the caver whose curiosity is so great, that surveying is a gladly performed task. This category of caver is strongly motivated to learn how long or deep a cave is, to determine how close a couple of caves are to connecting, to understand a cave's geologic origin, or to learn the distribution of a cave's critters. These cavers are the ones who are always available to survey, lead survey trips, process the data, and draft the maps. HOW TO SURVEY Regardless of whether you are primarily driven by practicality or curiosity to survey a cave, once you've made the decision to do it, you need to know how it's done. I strongly recommend that anyone who has not drafted a cave map (regardless of your survey experience), get together with an experienced cave cartographer and have that person explain (with examples of maps in various stages of completion) the details of how a survey leads to the fmal map. Common complaints by survey crews are that the surveying is going too slowly, and "why do we have to measure that?" Surveying is a part of the mapping process. By understanding the entire process the work becomes less tedious and more effective, the above questions are answered, and you prevent having to go back to do something you should have done the first time. A survey is performed by pin-pomtmg locations ("stations") in the cave, then measuring the distance, compass angle and vertical angle between them (Figure 1). These data are recorded in a notebook which also contains a sketch of the passage between those stations. The survey proceeds by measuring to one station, then moving up to that station and measuring to another station being set further in the cave. To accomplish this, a survey team has three basic positions: tape, instruments and book. The following descriptions, like this article, are not meant to be comprehensive but provide an introduction to the subject. "Tape" is usually the first job a new surveyor is given. Although conceptually easy, the effectiveness of the tape person can significantl y speed or slow a survey. The tape person leads down the passage to select the stations' locations. These stations must be clearly visible from the previous station and must not be further than the length of the survey tape from that station. They must also provide a clear view to the next station(s) which will be set (Figure 1), and be convenient for the instrument person to set up on and take readings. Once the station location is selected the tape person holds the tape on station to measure the distance from the previous station, and lights the station until the instrument person has read the compass and vertical angles (azimuth and inclinations). Having neither a book nor instruments to keep clean and dry, the tape person has the THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 11
El\C-1-\ -The book person generally leads the survey, and is often the person who leads the project and drafts the fmal map. This job involves recording the numbers given by the tape and instrument persons, and drawing a sketch of the cave (Figure 3). The book person must be ===--=-= proficient in working both the tape and instruments, and must also know the map symbols Figure 1. Hypothethical Survey Line in a Cave dubious honor of pushing leads to see if they need surveying (Figure 2). The instrument person's job is simply to read the azimuth and inclination between stations, and to keep the instruments clean and dry. The means of reading the instruments depend upon the type of instruments being used. Suuntos are currently popular. With one eye you look both inside the instrument for your reading and outside the instrument to line up the station you are sighting. DO NOT USE BOTH EYES, as stated in the manufacturer's instructions. This method has been proven less accurate than the single eye technique. In addition to instrument reading and maintenance, the instrument person must not carry any magnetic objects which will cause a deviation in the readings. These objects include belt buckles, knives, vertical gear, buckles on cave packs, eyeglasses with ferrous rims or screws, stainless steel carbide lamp reflectors, steel tapes, batteries, or electric lights. The current in an electric light can also deflect the compass. I've found that if I hold my wheat lamp six or more inches away from the compass, no noticeable deflection occurs --but its always good to hold it as far away as possible. Page 12 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 "2... to be used in the sketch (Figure 4). In leading the survey, the book person must be forceful enough to get good quality data from the other team members. This includes asking for measurements to the walls, floors and ceiling, repeating all numbers given to check for clarity, asking for repeated readings if they seem incorrect, and taking time to sketch carefully despite complaints. Rushing the survey and the book person has resulted in the resurvey of many caves. It is much more efficient to take your time, be certain of your readings, draw in all the details, and otherwise do the job right the first time (Figure 5). HOW TO DRAFT CAVE MAPS Many cavers have the admirable motto of "survey as you explore." This practice is efficient, and also courteous in giving everyone a chance to explore new cave as they survey and not merely survey what someone else has already scooped. However, in the June 1989 NSS News, John Ganter proposed a new ethic: "Map what you survey." A lot of time, effort, money and pain can go into surveying a cave but, unfortunately, a lot of surveys end up sitting in someone's files with the maps never developing. This is a disservice and an insult to everyone who worked on those projects. Additionally, cave owners may close access to their caves if they don't get the maps they were promised.
2. Karen Markette on Tape, Creek Cave, Comal County, Texas (,...) ("' ) STII ,., .... VE?-1" u/r> 1'>1> IS" s /-:1 s .e.o 2 Z.'I S 0 (',v \.6 8 ; 2 ">0 2.8b 0 "'" 11 'l!IC ClS 7 1 '\13 "'3b 0 "?..Fe ) :.s1 ,, \!,Ill'\ ., ( 1 9 0 0 0 E><> z.o .(oj. \ 5 Bo >5' '?Jp 2 \ .k / ; 5 ')0 '\U C') Bv "2-?. R1!1<' I ?,a/ ( \OD L \31> 2 ( fr_ ., .. t' 1 \ [ <. F._.,,_ .. F .... p... 1"\<":t\)1\'... .. &1(\.ll ""' f' 0 0,. L / v 1 sJ.-\ "-./1.. o/1-2. "\/ P J.z./ z L '' ll:::dl 11::11 lllt=:!l llt:::ll -==--=-p ,() The maps should be drawn up as soon as possible, even if it means staying home and not going caving for a weekend. Drawing cave maps is not nearly the formidabl e task it was several years ago The most tedious part of th e process is to "reduce" the data by mathematically converting the field numbers into coordinates you can plot on paper. Even if you hate math a $20 hand calculator with trig functions makes this easy. If you have a programmable calculator, the job is even easier simply enter the numbers and then write down the results (Figure 6). Programs for these calculators Figure 3. Example of Survey Notes From Honey Creek Cave, Comal County, Texas THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 13
I'ASSAGI:: SYMOOLS 111'ATER SYMBOLS .STAL SYMBOLS Breakdown w.U.. Shafll drop in Ruot, down in htchwed direction Pit; if 10 iadic.lted entrance pit leC'tion Yiewed in dftction lhown half b.lrbed arrow. and tot.lted to horisonl.ll Depth bdow entrartce (ot Direction and counc of Rowin llrcam Directiun and coune of intermiHenltttum S tandinc watcr IU.c ur puul lntermiltent ur relit I puoi Sump (r:rou tlream. rapida Flowuonc o n floor; may i ndie.atr Uope contoun, with bulced aide dowllliOfe R.imatonc dama. drawn to liC.Ik and ahapc when poeaibk Flowatone o n w.U.. Slal.lctitc CEJUNC SYMBOLS fLOOR SYMBOLS ........ .. : \ .... GEOLCXY >-21 \ \ Sharp drop lft cedinc. hatchwa point toward low Bedrock floor Mud or dy Sand or lilt G ..... Rounded IIJ'Um cobblet Tol"' Brukdown Larp! bnU.down dnwn to sh.1pe and IC.Iie Siope, down in ipbyed directiun Orpnicdebria Trail Sui"''C1 at.ltion.auney d&blm point StriU and dip o f atral.l : dip in depft:l YP.rtie.Ujoint Fault. D lick mu.-ed down relatiYe to U aid'. Figure 4. Association For Mexican Cave Studies Standard Cave Map Symbols, 1980 Page 14 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990
are easy to write and several have been published, such as in the Dec. 1978 Texas Caver (send $2 to Texas Caver editor Dale Pate for a copy). Chances are, however, you may know someone who has a copy of SMAPS or some similar PC compatible program which will not only reduce the data, but will produce a line plot of the cave at whatever scale you want (Figure 7). See if you can borrow some computer time and thus have a plot of the cave in a small fraction of the time it would take to do it by hand. To get your own copy of SMAPS, send $49.95 to Speleo Technologies, Inc., P.O. Box 293, Frostburg, MD, 21532, (301) 689-3423. Figure 5. Allan Cobb Keeping The Book Dry While Karen Markette Waits to Continue Surveying in Little Bear Creek Cave Once your survey data are reduced it is possible to place the coordinates on paper and begin drawing the map. With the coordinates plotted, a line is usually drawn between stations to show the layout of the cave. This is called the line plot. Next, the distances to the left and right walls from each station are marked on the map (the latest -version of SMAPS, version 4.2, will not only produce the line plot, but can also make the left-right marks). The passage walls are then drawn between stations by scaling to the left-right marks and the field sketch. Passage details, such as drops in floor and ceiling, breakdown, speleothems, etc., are then drawn within the passage walls The location of these features and the passage configurations can be drawn with considerable accuracy if the in-cave sketch was carefully drawn to scale. With the passages completed, the following step is to draw cross sections. This completes the "plan" view (the perspective of looking down on the cave as if its roof was removed). The "profile" or "side" view is drawn with the same steps : line plot, floor-ceiling marks, floor and ceiling, detail. The steps in drawing the plan and profile are shown in Figure 8. Figure 6. Dave Crann Reducing Data in an Underground Camp, Chiquibul The first draft of the map is drawn in pencil; the next and frnal step is to draw it in ink. A clean sheet of drafting vellum, mylar or tracing paper is placed over the pencil draft, and the Cave System, Belize THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 15
cave and all its details are traced in ink. The skill to produce an attractive map comes in the placement of the plan, profile, cross sections, scale north arrow and lett e red information in such a way that is easy to follow and does not create any cluttered or empty areas on the map. It is also important to carefully sel e ct the size and st y le of lettering so it is apparent, but does not overpower the map, and in selecting various line widths for drawing the ca v e : cave walls g e t the widest pens, major features get a medium width, and minor details receive the narrowest width. Whil e inking the cartographer must keep in mind what effect reduction will have on the map. It is a gen e rally good practice to draw the map large and r e duce it to the size you want. This can be done relatively cheaply at most printers/blueprint shops. Reduction of the map will sharpen its image ... .. ; _...;...... ., __ -.......... -.J. WHERE TO GET MORE INFORMATION ON CAVE SURVEYING AND MAP-MAKING The best way to learn about cave surveying is to do it. There are probably people in your grotto who survey on a regular basis; go surveying with them. If you don't know any surveyors, survey projects are often announced in the Texas Caver, so join one of those trips. If all else fails, read your Texas Caver, see who is surveying, and contact them The best way to learn to produce cave maps is also by doing. Find someone who is experienced to give you advise and insight. You may also find it valuable to scrutinize othe r cavers maps for new techniques to try, or for mistakes to avoid. Several published sources on cave surveying and map-making exist. The April 1982 Texas Caver was entirely devoted ... --j-------/ '\1 10 f1-C1\ to surveying. More comprehensive, yet easily comprehensible publications I would recommend are: A Systematic Guide to Making Your First Cave Map ($2.75) and An Introduction to Cave Mapping ($10). ------C.:::::=--------___ ,_. Both are excellent manuals and are available from the NSS Bookstore (Cave Avenue, Huntsville, AL 35810, (205) 8521300, add $1.50 for postage and handling). Figure 7. Computer Line Plot of Wiley's Cave, Comal County, Texas For the latest and hide minor slip-ups. However, too much reduction can ruin a map by making the lettering and detail illegible. Again, keep the reduction factor in mind when selecting line widths and lettering sizes, and in deciding how much detail to include The purpose of any cave map is to effectively and accurately relay information about the extent, configuration and content of a cave. Sloppy cartography can obscure the map's information and cast doubt on the quality of the survey itself. Chances are that a lot of people have put a lot of work into the cave survey. Consider the production of the cave map like raising a child ; give it the time and detailed attention it deserves. P a ge 16 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 advances and information, you can JOm the NSS Survey and Cartography Section (SACS) for $4/year. Their quarterly newsletter Compass and Tape, has published superb material over its past seven years (back issues are available). Send SACS dues to Rich Briesch, 4735 Mt. Ashmun Dr., San Diego, CA 92111. SUMMARY Cave surveying and map making are only as difficult as you make them. All it takes is a little practice and a little patience When I first started caving, I had a tendency to run through caves and say that I "saw" them, but after a while all of the
caves started to look alike. Surveying slowed me down, and when I quit thinking about how bored I was surveying, I then noticed the caves in a fascinating detail and glory I had never seen before. Since that time, I've found every cave to be wonderfully different and I've never been bored underground. Plan Profile 1) Plot coordinates 1. A 4' I 2) Draw line plot I 3) Mark distances to left/right walls, or floor and ceiling I 4) Draw cave walls/floor and ceiling 5) Add passage details 6 ) Add cross sections (plan only) i Figure 8. Basic Steps in Drawing a Cave Map '" -----------THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 17
CAVE RESCUE CALL DOWN UPDATE LIST by Bob Cowell Five years ago when the rescue call down lis t was reestablished, I received some opposition M any cavers didn't want things organized I was t old, We don t do things like that in Texas". Fortun a tely after a personal talk with some of these f olks, the requested information was sent and the Cave R e scue Call Down List was reborn. During the first two years, everything went well. Twice a year, updated grotto membership listings with a nnot a tions for first aid vertical training, and other specialized training, like scuba, CPR, NCRC seminar g r a duat es, etc. were received. During years three and four, my mail box was empty. I continued to produce a call down list and banded them out during the conventions and OTR only to be told that the list was out of date, everything was wrong, I've moved, they've moved, the e quipm e nt isn t there any more, or my phone numb e r has changed Year five came and I didn't publish a Texas wide lis ting, but I put out a Bexar County listing and dis tribut e d it to the San Antonio fue and police, as w ell as the sheriff and county fue marshal's office I didn't think anyone missed the state list, but lo and behold at the following OTR, I was asked why we didn't have one. I told them ''This was not my listing, it was TSA's listing, and I refuse to waste their money producing and printing an obsolete document". If the member grottos of TSA wish to continue to have a state-wide listing, then we have to regress back to the way it was five years ago. I need to have updated grotto listings three weeks prior to the OTR convention. The listings must be annotated as to who can respond immediately, in 24 hours, training (if any), and equipment locations. If a caver is not connected with a grotto he or she can still be placed on our call down list by sending the information directly to me. Don't forget to include your business and home telephone numbers. If I receive no response prior to the OTR convention I must assume no one wishes to participate in the endeavor. Send listings or replies to: Bob Cowell 5806 Cactus Sun San Antonio, Texas 78244-1260 CALENDAR OF UPCOMING EVENTS 1. Honey Creek Now that hunting season is over, trips are t entatively b eing scheduled to visit Honey Creek e v ery third weekend of the month. In October, 1989, the ove rall surveyed length of the cave was over 30 km (18.6 miles) The primary objective of the Honey Cr eek project is to continue surveying a nd to pursue n e w leads. Wet suit gear is r e quir e d in this ca v e over prolonged periods. This gea r is inexpensive to rent if you do not own any. Contact Kurt Menk ing, (512) 824-7230, to make trip arrangem e nts 2 Powell's Cave February 23-25, 1990 The third trip to resurvey Powell's Cave i s s e t f o r this weekend. Powell's Cave (in Menard Count y ) is the second longest cave in Texas and h a s a pproximately 22 km (13.6 miles) of passage In F e bruary 1989, a 5-ye ar effort was started by G e orge Veni to resurvey the cave. Trips will be m ad e to Powell s cave during the 4th weekend of P age 1 8 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 each October, February, and June. This is good opportunity to perfect your surveying techniqu e s and to perform a valuable service to the caving community. Contact George, (512) 699-1388, if interested. 3 Colorado Bend TSA Project March 9-11, 1990 Each second weekend of the month, surveying and mapping, biological collecting, ridgewalking, and photographing are involved in cave exploring at Colorado Bend. This TSA project is providing assistance to the Texas P a rks and Wildlife Department (TP&W) in developing the 6,000 acres in the park. Presently, over 70 caves have been identified. Many remain to be explored. A TP & W volunteer cap can be earned after donating service to the project. For fust timers, a TP&W release and waiver must be completed and notarized in advance. Contact Butch Fralia, (817) 346-2039, Terry Holsinger, (512) 476-9031, or Keith Heuss, (512) 462-9574, for trip information. ( cont'd p 19)
POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE As cavers, most of us shoot our cave pictures on color slide fllm to provide pictures for slide shows even though we all know there are other types of ftlm that can be used for cave photography If you plan to publish some of your cave pictures in caving magazines, then only shooting color transparency ftlm may not be your best choice since most publications do not print color. This means converting your prize color slide into a black and white print which is not all that simple. Color slide film is also tricky to expose correctly due to the half stop exposure latitude of the film making it easy to underexpose your slides. Have you ever wondered why your cave pictures turn out too dark even though you were sure you provided more than enough light for a good exposure? Simply put, color slide film is just not sensitive enough to record all the light at the time of the exposure leaving unexposed areas in the picture One simple way to capture all the grandeur of the cave and retain fme detail is to shoot some of your cave pictures on color negative fUm rather than on slide film. Today's color negative fllms have high color saturation, outstanding color contrast, exceilent sharpness and available in a wide range of film speeds By shooting color negatives, you can produce superior color prints, great black and white prints and excellent color slides. The color negative will then enable you to submit a black and white print to your favorite caving magazine with very little effort on your part, and you can have a color slide made directly from the same negative. Kodak has developed a special color print film known as Vericolor Slide Film 5072 that makes it possible to obtain a very high quality color slide. Without this Kodak film, it would not be worth the trouble to shoot negatives as there would be no way to obtain a useable slide. The advantage of shooting negatives over color slides is the wide two-stop exposure latitude of the negative film. The color negative emulsion is sensitive enough to record all the light used during the exposure putting an end to the dark unpleasant areas that appear in your slides. During the copy process, it is possible to alter the color balance and density of the resulting color slide to correct slight defects in the exposed negative giving you an extra measure of control. Since the cost of making one slide is about two dollars per copy, I do not recommend shooting all your cave pictures on color negative ftlm. This technique should be reserved for difficult photographs such as pictures of large rooms where it is necessary to capture all the light needed for the exposure. All the different brands of color negative ftlm can be purchased in short twelve exposure rolls making it both economical and convenient to carry several rolls of film all with different ftlm speeds to match any picture you want to shoot. Even if you are in the middle of a roll of your favorite slide ftlm, it is simple enough to roll the ftlm back into the cassette leaving just enough leader sticking out so the fUm can be reused later. When you roll your ftlm back into the cassette carefully listen as you wind the ftlm and immediatel y stop when you hear the fust click. If you continue to wind even slightly, you will pull the end of the film inside the cassette. Because the color negative ftlm is not ver y expensive and is available in short rolls, it is economical enough to only expose one or two frames on the roll before returning to reuse your slide fllm. One of the high-speed color negative films can be used to take a picture of a huge room and easil y capture all the fme detail with the light you provide This color negative can be copied onto the Kodak Slide Film to produce one fantastic color slide You will also be able to provide a good black and wh i te print for publication, and make a color enlargement to hang on your wall. Calendar of Upcoming Events (cont'd from p. 18) 4. Cascade Caverns Cleanup March 30, 1990 April 1, 1990 These are the dates for the next cleanup at Cascade Caverns just north of San Antonio Free weekend camping, a gracious evening meal on Saturday, and a trip through the cave (including the lower levels) will be provided to cavers assisting in this project. Chain saws, gloves, and other gard e n and yard cleanup implements are needed in the overall effort. Contact Bob Cowell, (512) 662-9171 to be included on this next trip THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Pag e 1 9
COMPUTERS AND CAVING HIGH TECH AT POWELL'S "OK! We've done enough for today." I closed my notebook after carefully recording and sketching the last station. Steve Barnes put away the Suunto compass and clinometer and followed Johanna Reece toward the entrance squeeze. Doug Allen had already popped through on his way to a hot meal and a beer by the campfire After a long day of surveying the entrance maze in Powell's Cave, all we could think about was food, fellowship and rest. But, the survey wasn't over yet --not until the data were processed. After an hour of recuperation, we set up David McKenzie's new laptop computer on the tailgate of his truck and plugged it into the dashboard outlet. We cranked up a program called SMAPS 4.2 and proceeded to enter the day's survey d a ta one caver reading the data aloud while I repeated the numbers as I typed. Others gathered around to watch a process that used to be done at home with a slide rule or trig tables. We checked the data over and added the names of the survey t eam, the instruments' serial numbers and notes on tie-in stations and observations. I pressed a couple of keys and the computer calculated the north, south and depth coordinates for each survey station Then a loop ad justment was run. A couple of more key presses and the screen displayed a line plot of all eleven surveys linked to the entrance, in EGA resolution (640 X 350 pixels) "Oohs" and "aahs" were voiced as station numbers popped on the screen and we zoomed in on different areas. I tilted the map to an oblique angle and rotated it, creating the illusion of a real object in three dimensions. As different survey teams exited the cave, each sketcher came by to read out his data. We caught several errors that would have been very difficult to figure out later. The surveyors were pleased that their work was immediately processed and displayed for them to see Too often they had spent many tedious hours surveying a cave without seeing even a preliminary map. Too often the map could not be finished because of corrections that would have required redrafting the whole map. When I returned home, I finished entering the data on my PC. Later I created a computer animation with a program called EGASLIDE. I used frames from the SMAPS graphics screens of Page 20 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 SPECIAL FEATURE Powell's Cave to dive into the map and fly around it, zooming closer and closer on the entrance. This was a hell of a lot more fun than drawing a map by hand. CAVE SURVEY PROCESSORS Using a laptop PC during the October 1989 mapping trip to Powell's Cave was a new approach to an old tradition When Pow ell's was first mapped in the 1960's, survey teams often brought their notes to a draftsman set up in camp, who plotted the data on a large table with a drafting machine. Corrections were not easily made, and loop adjustments probably were out of the question. A loop adjustment is a statistical method of recalculating the coordinates of the stations involved in a closed loop, so that accumulated errors don't separate the ends of the loop. This is desirable, within limits, to make the map topologically realistic. The Powell's map grew very large, but it never received wide distribution because it was difficult to reproduce. As more surveys were added to the base map, it got out of kilter and passages that weren't supposed to began crossing each other. This was because loop adjustments couldn t be made to the manually drafted map. The Powell's Cave map was impressive and useful, but it was never published as far as I know. One of the advantages of today's cave survey programs, especially for larger caves, is that we can produce a line plot of the plan or profile at any time so that others can see the progress of the survey. These plots can be done at a scale that is convenient to reproduce. Second, we can identify problems in the survey and correct them without replotting everything by hand. Third, refinements can be added to the survey at any time, such as locating important stations by cave radio coupl ed with an overland theodolite survey or aerial photos. Fourth, the final map need not be drawn up with all the wall and floor details until later. This may be an advantage because in the past some cave maps went unpublished because the draftsman was reluctant to publish just a line plot. Fifth, there is less chance of the survey data being lost now (the Powell's data now reside on several computers) Easy access to xerography is another advantage we have nowadays. Duplicate copies of all the Powell's survey notes are filed with Terry Holsinger and with the Texas Speleological Survey in Austin.
Does a cave map have to be published? Not always, but cave maps are important historical and scientific documents. If we hope to understand, appreciate and preserve a cave, a realistic map or model helps. A cave map also makes a statement: "This cave is real and it was surveyed on such and such a date. At that time it contained the natural and historical features represented on this document. Attested and sworn to by the surveyors and the draftsman." Fill in your own names. Cave maps often are works of art. For these reasons, we of the Texas Speleological Survey (TSS) are devoted to archiving as many cave maps and survey notes as possible. Now that we can model caves on a computer, it would be nice to get some of the old survey notes that cavers may still have lying around. In the future we will be able to construct 3D "wire frame" models of caves on computers, including cross sections. ELLIPSE In the 1960's some cavers processed surveys on mainframe computers using simple trigonometry. The same was done on electronic calculators when they became available. Cave survey processing by mainframe came into common use in the 1970's. Robert Thrun in Virginia wrote CMAP, a big program still in use. TOPOROBOT, written mnre recently by Martin Heller of Switzerland, draws three-dimensional perspective views of caves. In Austin, David McKenzie's ELLIPSE program started up about 1973. For the first few years, the data were keypunched on IBM cards and submitted at the University of Texas computation center. Plots were picked up later at one of the engineering buildings. Later, cavers entered data through terminals on campus, and by 1981 they were using terminals linked by telephone to UT's CDC Cyber mainframe. ELLIPSE is still used for large surveys like Honey Creek Cave and Sistema Purificaci6n. ELLIPSE still has advantages, such as statistical analysis of closure errors, which helps the surveyor locate blunders, and the ability to process hundred of vectors (survey shots). SMAPS Since about 1984, cavers have been able to use programs, like SMAPS, on their own computers. The results can be printed out on a common dot matrix printer. SMAPS was written by Doug Dotson, a caver and computer science professor from Maryland. The TSS began using SMAPS 3.1 in 1985. SMAPS has become very popular and it has been used on some large systems like Wind Cave, South Dakota. In 1988, Jim Pisarowicz, formerly of Austin, was transferring SMAPS data for Wind Cave into AUTOCAD, a professional design program. He modeled the cave in multicolors on EGA displays. Lately Jim has been working for the State of Minnesota at Mystery Caverns. He demonstrated what can be done with SMAPS and AUTOCAD at the National Cave Management Symposium in New Braunfels in October, 1989. They mapped Mystery Caverns using SMAPS. The cave is very mazy and goes off state property and under several private properties. They hired an aerial photography survey, for which they placed large white X's on the ground to mark entrances and benchmarks located by cave radio. The aerial survey was then digitized and imported into AUTOCAD with the cave data. Jim's AUTOCAD map shows the relationships of the cave to property lines and roads as well as to natural surface features. The map can be switched to show other details in the cave. They are looking for a new entrance to the cave as a result of the mapping effort. In January 1990 Dotson announced SMAPS 4.3 and his latest SMAPS/Graphics module, which has an impressive list of new features. Registered users can get the upgrade for $69.95. First time users who are NSS members can buy the whole package for $119.90. Prices are higher for others. Write to SpeleoTechnologies, Inc., P.O. Box 293, Frostburg, Maryland 21532-3423, or call (301) 689-3423. The new graphics include map clipping to display a certain area; vertical exaggeration; colors by depth, date, survey, etc.; walls, ceiling and floor indicated with points or boxes; UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) coordinates; rose diagrams; depth scales; strike and dip; user-positioned border and title blocks; laser printer support and many other features. I recently heard of Dotson's proposal to develop a Geographical Information System, or GIS, for the National Park Service. The program would have graphics displays of surface topography and neighboring caves while containing detailed cave inventory information. GIS is being considered because of the intensive work at Lechuguilla Cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Dotson's January announcement states that a future SMAPS will have GIS features "to allow complex queries to be made about the cave." At least one other caver-programmer has had similar ideas. CAVEVIEW In Austin, John Fogarty has been developing CA VEVIEW since 1988. CA VEVIEW is still THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 21
changing and is not yet publicly available. The first version I saw (2.6) was a graphics display for PCs with EGA graphics. It took ELLIPSE data and showed it on the screen in as many as 16 colors for different depth intervals One could rotate the map, zoom in using a mouse, turn station numbers on and off, flip between plan and profile, exaggerate the vertical scale and move a cross-hair meter scale around with the mouse. Famous caves such as S6tano de las Golondrinas, Sistema Purificaci6n, Actun Kaua, Honey Creek Cave, Langtry Lead (Big Tree Cave), Spring Creek Cave and Powell's Cave (old survey) have been showing on several systems around Austin for over a year. CA VEVIEW 3.1, the latest version, is even more sophisticated and includes data entry, editing and processing. The new display includes some GIS features, such as displaying several neighboring caves in their proper relationships by using UTM coordinates for each entrance. CA VEVIEW 3.1 also has pull-down menus and you can make notations about different features in the cave and have the notations appear on the screen near those features whenever you like. Imagine being able to fmd out what photos are available for a certain room, or locate promising leads or interesting scientilic fmds. These functions will allow one to do "cave inventory'' work, which is especially valuable for large cave systems receiving lots of study. Such functions are useful for exploration, science and conservation. NET3 AND WALL ADJUSTMENT ALGORITHM Fogarty's CA VEVIEW may eventually incorporate David McKenzie's NET3 loop-adjusting algorithm, which was published in 1982. NET3 is a method involving some clever matrix algebra that will allow large systems with lots of loops to be processed much quicker and with less memory. This may make it possible to process large systems, like Purificaci6n, on a laptop computer. Another refinement originated by McKenzie in 1982 was the "ELLIPSE Wall Adjustment Algorithm", which actually allows one to computerize the cave walls from survey notes using a digitizer, a device sort of like a mouse. With this program, one can add new survey data to a large system and do loop adjustments without having to redraft the map by hand. The map is redrawn for you by a pen plotter. McKenzie used this to draw parts of Actun Kaua, an incredible maze cave in Yucatan. Unfortunately, this innovative program is available only on UT's Cyber mainframe Page 22 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 VECTORIZING MAPS Fogarty is interested in "vectorizing" existing cave maps and McKenzie wants to vectorize topographic maps. Vectorizing means to convert curved lines to series of connected vectors. The process would involve using an optical scarmer on the map. McKenzie's ideal program would then use artificial intelligence to delete extraneous information and end up with little but contours. The user could then set some parameters, such as elevation values, and the program would then vectorize each contour line. The contours would become layers in a CAD-like environment. After processing, you could model the topography, complete with caves, three dimensionally on a graphics screen. Imagine exploring areas of Mexico with this! MACINTOSH Bill Farr of California has written a cave survey program for the Macintosh. I have no details on this program and don't even know its name. Terry Raines may have this program. LOGICAVE AND OTHER CAVE DATABASES Imagine that you want to know if there are any good cave leads to be checked or some vertical caves to visit in a particular area. You can now call the TSS (James Reddell or me) to get the information out of our files or computers, or you can go to your own computer to fmd out. Databases allow text and numbers to be retrieved, analyzed or used in reports. Years ago, some of the state cave surveys started databases using the IBM card format. Such a format is still used in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. It is limited to the 80 columns on a card, each card representing a cave, so the information has to be coded to get it on the card. This makes it difficult to read. A. Richard Smith started the TSS database in 1968 by keypunching about 1600 IBM cards. These were used to print out county cave lists, but the database became dormant after the mid-1970's. The advent of dBASE in the 80's changed everything. Like other modern database programs, dBASE allows you to enter large chunks of data in each record and it uses English-like commands to maneuver through the information. In 1984 I began compiling Texas cave data using dBASE II on a small Morrow computer. In 1985 I published A Field Guide to the Caves of Kendall County for the TSS
out of this database. I also began amassmg a database of all Texas cave maps. In 1986 Keith Heuss gave me the old TSS punchcard database and I converted it to floppy disk storage and imported the data into dBASE III Plus on an IBM compatible PC. I used this and the TSS files to begin building up a large database on Texas caves. This became too huge for me to do alone and other cavers who owned computers were willing to help. Butch Fralia assisted by filling in information on North Texas caves using my format. However, we needed something even easier to use to access the data. So, in 1987 I programmed the first version of LOGICAVE. LOGICA VE is a user-friendly, front-end program that helps you through the TSS databases without your having to become a programmer. LOGICA VE enables you to record detailed information on Texas caves and retrieve the data, either on screen or in printed reports. It is easy to use and is "menu driven", that is choices are made from lists of options. LOGICA VE also is a "database journal available now for a $20 annual subscription to those interested in Texas karst. The first subscription year was 1989. Approved subscribers initially receive a user's guide, the LOGICA VE program and the data ftles on floppy disks (in a compressed form). The eight charter subscribers kicked in $40 each, which I used to pay for floppy disks, printing and postage. I contribute the remainder of the proceeds to the TSS, a nonprofit organization. This helped pay for publishing A Field Guide to the Caves of Blanco, Gillespie and Llano Counties, Texas in 1989. Data and program updates were originally planned to be quarterly, but I have decided to reduce it to a biannual issue. The charter subscribers will receive the 1990 issues at no charge. Subscribers may become "TSS data managers" for certain counties, but any subscriber may send in data to me using the format set in the program. LOGICA VE NEWS is published as needed to keep users up to-date on current developments. The program and data are copyrighted. LOGICA VE is written in the dBASE III Plus language and runs on any IBM-compatible computer that has a hard disk with about 10 megabytes of free space. It will also run under DBXL, Foxbase Plus or FoxPro, which are dBASE language clones With Foxbase Plus Mac, LOGICA VE will run on a Macintosh computer with slight changes. I ran a test version on a Mac SE and it worked very well. Exchanging data with Mac users is no problem since I have a 3 .5" drive on my PC that will format, read and write both IBM and Mac disks. Future versions may allow the user to compress data that does not need to be active all the time, thus saving space. This will be necessary because the system may eventually grow to 20 megabytes or more. LOGICA VE's main menu lets you select the database you want. There are three types of databases: TSSTEX (a statewide database with about 3000 cave and karst names, lengths, depths, owners, areas and counties), the county databases (very detailed information with cave descriptions), and TSSMAP (records on more than 1100 Texas cave maps published or on ftle, and records on geologic diagrams, location maps, biological range maps and others). In LOGICA VE you can browse through data in a spreadsheet; see a text overview of Texas by county and select a county for detailed look-ups ; find data by cave name, county, area, owner, length and depth; edit a two-page form; record the location (UTM coordinates), length, depth, elevation, type of cave and significance; keep notes on geology, biology, paleontology, archeology, conservation and "need to do" items; write an extensive cave report; add new caves; generate statistical or descriptive reports on a county, owner, area or cave; and other functions Reports are output to a disk ftle so that you can edit them with a word processor before printing There is an on-line introduction and user s guide, keyboard help and a glossary. The following cavers have been instrumental to the growth of LOGICA VE: James Reddell, Butch Fralia, Keith Heuss, David McKenzie, Quinta Wilkinson, A. Richard Smith and George Veni. Because of recent commitments to a cave biology study in the Austin area, I had to put LOGICA VE aside for a few months, but I plan to revive it with improvements in the near future The recent studies on endangered cave species by Reddell and me resulted in a lot of new data on Travis, Williamson and Burnet Counties being added to LOGICA VE. Bill Russell has a database on Travis County on his Macintosh computer. Eventually this may be incorporated into LOGICA VE for general use by the caver community Several years ago I also began a Mexican cave database, which focuses on the Sierra de Guatemala and m aps published in the Texas Caver. THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 23
It would be possible to adapt LOGICA VE to Mexico with only a few additional data fields. Terry Raines recently started a Mexico database based on some of my suggestions. It runs on a Mac SE under Foxbase Plus Mac, but there is no front-end program. With a front-end program, it would be easier to have a community-shared database that can be used on Macs and PCs. BIBLIOGRAPHIC DATABASES Sometimes you wonder if someone has written about a cave that you like. How can you find out? It's hard, especially since the Texas Caver has been published since 1956 and the Texas Speleological Survey since 1961. You don't have all those issues and they're not all indexed anyway. Soon you will be able to fmd those articles and trip reports very easily. James Reddell, one of the founders of the TSS in 1961, is a dedicated compiler of bibliographies. You could call him a speleobibliographer. For example, he has a text database on North American biospeleology that includes over 8000 references. James also has been cataloging the Texas Caver and all other important literature on Texas caves, including the TSS publications, magazine and scientific articles, news articles and even obscure grotto newsletters. Have you ever heard of the CVS Newsletter? Or Oztotl (Texas A&I), Kicker Caver (Amarillo), Habla Ia Abuela de Oztotl (Dallas), UTG News (Austin), Inside Earth (Austin), The Fault Zone (Austin), Range of Darkness (San Antonio), Bexar Facts (San Antonio), SWTG News (Southwest Texas State University), Electric Caver (Rice University), PASS Out (Pan American University), PBSS Spylunk (Midland-Odessa), Maverick Bull (Ft. Worth), LAG News (Lubbock) and other Texas newsletters, living and dead? Reddell uses a professional bibliographic database program, called PROCITE, to catalog this huge literature. He now has nearly 4000 references and will soon have 5000. He has six years of the Texas Caver left to do, but that won't take long. Page 24 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Besides the citation, each record has notes on the cave name(s), county and general subject (biology, geology, archeology, etc.). These can be selectively reported to a disk ftle or to a printer. Ultimately, Reddell will publish the Texas cave bibliography, but in the near future the TSS will make the data available at a nominal charge on floppy disks. You can then use a word processor or searching software to fmd any reference by author name, year, cave name, county or subject. An announcement will be printed in the Texas Caver when this service is available. These references are ftled in the TSATSS Library in Austin, housed in Reddell's office at the University Annex just south of the UT stadium. Our goal is to make this literature available to cavers and researchers. Xerox copies of articles from the library can be requested by writing or calling Reddell. Reddell is also reorganizing the TSS cave ftles. With LOGICA VE, we can locate cave maps and information for you We are working on a forthcoming Field Guide to the Caves of the Lampasas Cut Plains, which includes many counties in North Central Texas. Please send any cave information that you may have on that area. James also needs your newspaper clippings and grotto newsletters. The TSATSS Library is lacking early issues of PBSS Spylunk and several other newsletters. We request that newsletter editors please put the Library on their permanent mailing lists, to preserve the information for posterity. Please write to James R. Reddell, Texas Memorial Museum, 2400 Trinity, Austin, Texas 78705, phone (512) 471-1075, 471-1466, or 467-2465 (home). Cavers interested in LOGICA VE may contact the author. If you have a PC with EGA or VGA graphics and a hard disk, you can obtain a three minute animation of the Powell's Cave System map to display on your computer. Please send $2 to my address and state whether you want the data on two 5.25-inch floppies (360K) or one 3.5-inch floppy (720K). William R. Elliott, 12102 Grimsley Drive, Austin, Texas 78759, phone (512) 835-2213 (home).
BY KURT MENKING TEXAS' LARGEST BAT CAVES INTRODUCTION In a state famous for having the biggest of everything, it seems only fitting we should have the largest bat caves in the western hemisphere, and probably the largest in the world. Most Texas cavers, at least those from south Texas, have witnessed the amazing evening bat flights from Bracken or Frio Bat Caves. And those of us who regularly attend the trips continue to be impressed year after year. Since bat flight trips never go into the cave, they have been attracting many non-cavers. In fact, for the last several years the interest in these caves has been growing almost too fast. Bracken Bat Cave used to be a quiet, private place, where cavers went once or twice a year to kick back, enjoy the bats, and swap a few lies. For many years, the bat flights were a well kept secret. But now, it seems everyone knows about the cave. Over the last several years cavers represent only a very small percentage of the total people who visit the cave each year. In the public's quest to see the bat flights, many so called "reputable" groups have gained access to both Frio and Bracken Bat Caves from people who really do not have the legal authority to give "permission". Many people gain access from the adjoining ranchers, hunters with deer leases, or any one else who knows a way to get in. In fact several off-road bicycle groups have been known to jump the fences with no permission at all. Needless to say, the real owners are not at all pleased about all of this trespassing. It especially upsets them when they hear about upcoming trips from local radio advertisements which tell about paid trips to the cave (and no one has the owners permission). As part of the background work for this article, I interviewed the last two generations of land owners, plus the family responsible for most of the guano harvesting for the past 30 years. I would like to share some of the history, and interesting things I have learned about the caves. OWNERSHIP HISTORY Both Frio and Bracken caves were bought by the Marbach family in 1909. They were each bought from different owners but the combined purchase price for both caves was about $3,700. The caves were bought by Johann (John) Marbach, mostly with money he received from the government for a injury from his military career. He recognized the value of the guano in the caves and purchased only the caves, and not much else. The Frio cave includes about 40 acres, while the Bracken cave includes only 4.9 acres. The Frio cave was purchased from an English firm that called itself the Texas Guano Company. The old Kiln in front of the Frio cave was used by that company to dry the guano before its shipment to England, however, the excessive heat removed most of the nutrients from the guano, and by the time it got to England, it was worthless. After that the company went bust and they were anxious to sell the cave. The Bracken cave was originally called the Cibilo bat cave, and the family always called the sinkhole 'The Devils Sinkhole". The cave name probably changed to Bracken Bat Cave during the 1920s when the guano was taken from the cave to the railroad station in Bracken for shipment across the country. The caves have been passed down through four generations of the Marbach family. From Johann, to Robert, to Elgin, and fmally to Elgin's heirs. The original Bracken deed reads a lot like a typical cave location description. It references several piles of rocks and a mesquite tree, none of which can be found today. The deed includes a provision which prohibits the property from being fenced, so as to allow cattle to graze the property. Each year, it also requires that guano be harvested and that the adjoining ranch owners receive one ton of guano to be used on their plowed fields GUANO HISTORY There is some stories indicating that guano was harvested during the Civil War and WWI. I did THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 25
not take the time to research this, but I expect that it is true. I do know that the Bracken cave was extensively mined in the 1920s and 1930s. They simply shoveled the guano into burlap sacks and loaded the sacks onto horse-drawn wagons which delivered the guano to the Bracken train station From there, it was delivered to sites across the co untry, and even shipped overseas. In fact, they would literally empty the cave of all guano, to the point where they would use brooms to sweep the g uano off of any ledges where it had accumulated so it could be sacked. They also built ladders into the s mall upper levels to retrieve the guano from those a r eas as well. Its hard to imagine that cave without the guano. The most common guano harvesting techniques over the years included shoveling the g u ano into sacks, th e n lifting them out of the shaft e ntr a nce, or using a big bucket to lift the guano up th e s h aft and then sacking it on the surface. I und ers t an d they tried during the late 1920s to use a cable syste m in the sinkhole to bring the guano out in sacks. The most high-tech approach was three years ago when they used an air compressor and 4-inch (10.2-cm) PVC pipe to literally vacuum the guano out of the cave and into a big box near the sinkhol e entrance. From there it could be sacked a nd transported more easily, and required fewer workers in the cave. In the past 80 years of guano h arvesting, no one has been seriously injured which see m s remarkable considering the man-hours spent during th e 1920s and 1930s The decline of the guano market is directly tied to th e success of the chemical fertilizer industry Th e public quit buying the guano because the chemical products were cleaner, easier, and generally packag e d better. Hopefully, the trend toward all natural agriculture will bring back the guano mark et. LEGENDS O ve r the years, I have heard of many l egends abo ut Brack e n Bat Cave The most obvious i s th a t it connects with everything from Natural Bridge to Carlsbad. More interesting are the l ege nds about upper lev e l passages connecting to big r oo ms, and bats flying out from the edges of the s inkh o l e coming from other parts of the cave. Anoth e r interesting t a le is that both Frio and P age 26 THE TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Bracken have caught on fire numerous times over the years. Descriptions range from large smokey fires that made every sinkhole for 20 miles (32.2 km) belch smoke, to blue flames that zip across the surface of the guano with no smoke at all. ANIMAL HISTORY Over the years many critt e rs have been seen in and around the caves. Most Bracken trips includ e brief visits from a hawk or two, which dive into th e river of bats streaming from the cave looking for an easy meal. Another frequent visitor is the snakes trying to run down grounded bats near the mouth of the cave. Some of the less common sightings have been mice, raccoons, and even a feral hog which came charging up from deep within the cave during a early morning trip to watch the bats return flight. Winter trips inside the cav e have turned up some unusual bones as well. On one visit about ten years ago, we found 50 or more animal skulls, probably racoon or bobcat, but no other skeletal remains. Possibl e explanations have included old Indian rituals, local hunters, or universiti es who u se the carnivorous bee tles to strip the carcasses of lab animals. Who really knows? One interesting specimen included a small whale, supposedly put there by the University of Texas. Evidently, a whale beached itself during the summer, and after r eviva l efforts failed, th ey brought it to the cave to l e t th e beetles strip it down. They later returned to r ecover the skeleton. Fortunately the San Antonio caving groups have been able to gain the owners respect and trust by leading responsible trips to the caves over th e past fifteen years. I expect th e cave rs more th a n most other groups appreciate the opportunity to visit the caves, and th e y show a great d ea l of r espe ct for the land owners, the bats, and th e property. If you would like to see the bat flights pl ease contact the owners or the San Antonio c aving groups to assist in making the arrangements Please do not try to gain access from anyone except the real cave owners. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Finally, I would lik e to thank the owners of Frio and Bracken Bat caves for letting us visit th e caves and for their assistance with this article.
CAVE VIDEO by James F. Loftin We cavers have all taken and/or enjoyed pictures from our second home underground. Some of the most beautiful still shots I have viewed were those taken underground. About 2-1/2 years ago, I attempted my fust video underground. It was at best interesting. That try inspired me to make a good video that I could look back on later and relive the trip armchair style. Most of the equipment needed for videotaping is expensive A good video camera, lights, backup batteries for camera and lights must be used in addition to one very important item: a light-weight case that is water tight, foam lined, but not too bulky. There are several things that can happen to ruin a good video trip. In some caves, moisture and humidity is a big problem. Some cameras will cut off in the high humidity conditions found in some caves. Fine dust in other caves is just as bad on the internal works of the camera. The camera should be capable of operating in levels of 5 lux or less, although with a good multilight system, a camera rated for 7 lux works well. The power source for the lights should sustain the lights for at least 3 hours. Anything less could leave you in the dark before you finish. Some other pointers that might help in obtaining good video shots are as follows: (1) use good back lighting; (2) use scale whenever possible; (3) wear light-reflecting clothing (no blues, blacks, browns, etc.) for contrast; and ( 4) preset shots. Another important aspect of videotaping in caves is to have a good crew to carry all that heavy gear through the cave. Without a good crew to transport equipment, all other factors become a moot point. James Loftin Videotaping On-Site at Bad Weather Pit, Kendall County, Texas (Photo Kurt Menking, June 1989) The TEXAS CAVER February 1990 Page 27
BULK RATE U.S. Postage PAID A t us m, Texas Permit No. 1181
1989: A Special Report / Susie Lasko, Don Broussard, Carol
Vesely, Bill Farr, Alejandro Villagomez, Nancy Weaver, Oren
Letters To The Editor --
Cave Surveying & Mapping: Why How And Where / George
Veni --Cave Rescue Call Down Update List / Bob Cowell --
Calendar Of Upcoming Events --
Positive Or Negative / James Jasek --
20 Computers And Caving / William R. Elliott, Ph.D. --
Texas' Largest Bat Caves / Kurt Menking --
Cave Video / James Loftin.