The Texas Caver

The Texas Caver

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The Texas Caver
Series Title:
The Texas Caver
Texas Speleological Association
Texas Speleological Association
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Regional Speleology ( local )
Technical Speleology ( local )
serial ( sobekcm )
United States


General Note:
Contents: Editorial: One Big, Happy Family? -- Top 10 Reasons to Cave in Texas -- About the TSS -- Trip Reports: Beck Ranch Cave, District Park Cave Water Cave, High Guads Restoration, Xilitla 2000, Tamapatz, Agua Amarga, Palmito Precipicio -- TSS Photo Archives Caption Contest -- Using the Internet to Find Caves -- Book Reviews: Bats in Question, Lechuguil/a, Jewel of the Underground -- Caves Cave Leads in McCulloch County -- The Pillar -- TSA Publications Committee -- Lost Caves of Texas: Pecos Bell Counties.
Open Access - Permission by Publisher
Original Location:
Windy City Grotto Collection, 1961-2013
Original Version:
Vol. 45, no. 03 (May/June 2000)
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See Extended description for more information.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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K26-04777 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.4777 ( USFLDC Handle )
12780 ( karstportal - original NodeID )
0040-4233 ( ISSN )

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---------------_-.---:. ON THE COVER: Melanie Alspaugh nears the top of Sotano de las Golondrinas. Photo by James Lopez. ON THE BACK: Becky Jones appears out of the breakdown in the floor of Beck Ranch Cave. Photo by Joe Ivy. CONTENTS May / June 2000 Vol. 45. No 3 Editorial One Big, Happy Family? 55 Top 10 Reasons to Cave in Texas 55 About the TSS 55 Trip Reports Beck Ranch Cave District Park Cave Water Cave High Guads Restoration Xilitla2000 Tamapatz AguaAmarga Palmito & Precipicio 56 57 58 59 60 64 69 71 TSS Photo Archives Caption Contest 70 Using the Internet to Find Caves 72 Book Reviews Bats in Question Lechuguil/a, Jewel of the Underground 73 Caves & Cave Leads in McCulloch County 74 The Pillar 77 TSA Publications Committee 78 Lost Caves of Texas Pecos & Bell Counties 79 The TEXAS CAVER is produced by the Texas Speleological Association Editors: Joe Ivy & Rebecca Jones Proofreaders: Katie Arens & Denise Prendergast This issue is made possible by those who contributed material: Aaron Addison, Melanie Alspaugh, Yvonne Drams, Jerry Fant, Butch Fralia, Andy Gluesenkamp, Will Harris, Carl Heitmeyer, Jim Kennedy, Allen Laman, James Lopez, Bill Mixon, Michael Moore, John Moses, George Veni THETEXASJ. CAVER The TEXAS CAVER is a bi-monthly publication of the Texas Speleological Association (TSA), an internal organization of the National Speleological Society (NSS). Subscription rates are $27/year for six issues of The TEXAS CAVER. This includes membership in the TSA. Outof-state subscribers, libraries, and other institutions may receive The TEXAS CAVER for $20/year. Back issues are available at the cost of $3.00 per issue. Send 1111 correspondence (other than material for The TEXAS CAVER), subscriptions, and exchanges to: The Texas Caver P.O. Box 8026 Austin, TX 78713 Exchanges should be mailed to The Texas Caverat the above address. The Texas Caver will exchange newsletters with other grottos. Submissions to The TEXAS CAVER should be sent to the editors at the following address: Joe Ivy & Rebecca Jones 11916 Bluebonnet Manchaca, TX 78652 We encourage YOU to participate in this publication. Please see page 79 for Submission Guidelines. Opinions expressed in the The TEXAS CAVER are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those opinons held by the editors, the TSA, its members, or the NSS. Copyright 2000 by the Texas Speleological Association. Internal organizations of the NSS may reprint any item first appearing in The TEXAS CAVER as long as proper credit is given and a copy of the newsletter containing the reprinted material is mailed to the TSA. Other organizations should contact the TSA about reprinted materials. THE TEXAS elVeR


MAY/JUNE 2000 The Editors Say ... Texas cavers are all One Big Happy Family. Yeah, right. Personally, I'm tired of folks saying: "Why can't we all just get along?" "If everyone wrote just one article a year ... "Found one cave ... "Led just one training trip ... Beiug tnld what I, or "Somebody," should do makes me mad. People don't want to be put in a position where they feel compelled to apologize for their commitment (or lack thereof) to the caving community. The TSA is not a family, it's a volunteer organization. Sure, Texas cavers share a common interest in caves, but that's a pretty tenuous connection. We each have our own way of valuing caves and our own selfish interest in caving. We're drawn to caving for different reasons and participate on our own levels. It's foolish to think that we all could simply work together. Despite our reliance on each other for the most basic in_ mation, our motivations are often contractory. We can't support each other unconditionally. While the TSA tries to ensure that interested cavers are made welcome and that productive efforts are supported, don't hold your breath waiting for more sport caving trips announced on CaveTex. The folks who are actively caving and actively involved in the TSA aren't going to drop their projects to set up trips for you. But if you've got something to offer, and if working with other cavers will improve your experience, then maybe the TSA's for you. Unless your actions threaten an existing arrangement, there's no reason you can't use the TSA (and the TSS) to gather information and set up your own trips. If anything interesting happens and you feel like writing it up, that's great. If you've got some information you'd like to share, old and new cavers alike, we all benefit from each other's experiences. The TSA is about people with a common interest, loosely supporting each other, trying not to interfere with each other, learning from each other. The majority of members are content to pay dues and support the general goals of the TSA. In return, the TSA helps keep everyone 10 contact through projects, events, the Activities Newsletter Letter, and The Texas Caver. This works just fine. There will always be some people who complain that they want more than what others are willing to give. And, hopefully, there will always be some people who seem to contribute more than they need to. We're not a happy family. That's OK. Top 10 Reasons to Cave In Texas 10. Bump gate scars add character to your truck 9. Get into warm, tight, damp places without cheating on your spouse. 8. Fireants, Rattlesnakes, Ticks, Chiggers, Porcupines, and Dead Sheep. 7. You can usually survey the whole cave in one trip. 6. You can bring your gun. 5. Crawling is such good exercise. 4. It's easier for your friends to come get you when your truck breaks down. 3. You get to pee in San Antonio's aquifer. 2. Where else are you going to use all those short ropes? To get away from Texas Cavers -who won't getoffCaveTex to go caving! THE TEXAS CAVER About the TSS George Veni The TSS is an organization of cavers volunteering their time, knowledge, and money for the benefit of caves and caving. We began as a loose-knit organization in 1961, and though we became a non-profit corporation in 1994, our goals remain the same: to compile all available information on Texas caves, and to publish as much of that information as is possible and prudent in order to support cave exploration, science, management, and conservation. It is a large task that we can't do alone. All contributions of money, material, and effort in gathering, managing, and publishing data are welcome and are used solely to support TSS' goals. The TSS needs you to regularly contribute your trip reports, maps, and copies of survey notes. Caving is one way of literally making it into the record books, but you need to record your data to be remembered and so that others can enjoy, benefit, and learn hom your efforts. The main TSS files are in Austin and are available for use. Visitors are welcome, but the office is locked and not always staffed, so call before visiting. Anyone looking for information or to contribute information is welcome to send it to the TSS office at: PRC 176/R4000, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712-1100. If you have any questions for TSS, either call the office 512475-8802 or talk with anyone our directors and officers: George Veni (President, SanAntonio), Jim Kennedy (Editor, Austin), Logan McNatt (Secretary, Austin), Orion Knox (Treasurer, Austin), Aaron Addison (Austin), Jerry Atkinson (Houston), Bill Elliott (Missouri), Jerry Fant (Wimberley). Butch Fralia (Fort Worth), Keith Heuss (Austin), Carl Kunath (San Angelo), David McKenzie (Austin), James Reddell (Austin), and Bill Russell (Austin). S5


MAY IJUNE 2000 Beck Ranch Cave Andy Gluesenkamp Amy Beveridge, Andy Gluesenkamp, Robin Havens, James Lopez, Jason Richards, David Turner, Mike Walsh, Doug Mammoser, Marcus Gary, Justin Shaw to offer in terms of sporting pleasure. The bank thermometer alongIH-35 read 39 degrees Fahrenheit F as we took our exit. Soon we were all standing by our cars, putting on our kneepads and helmets. Ten of us had met on this cold January morning to visit Beck Ranch Cave, the largest of several caves on a small plot of land surrounded by "yuppy hives" and construction sites. Mike unlocked a gate in the new fence surrounding the cave as we aU stared at the steam rising out of the small vertical entrance. I clambered down the entrance followed by the others. We made small piles of trash and debris as we waited for the others in a low, broad corridor near the entrance room. We crawled on hands and knees to a small crack in the floor with a six-pack cooler in it. James explored a possible lead along the crack, while Jason continued down the corridor we were in to a tight squeeze and twist to a muddy level a couple of meters below the first. There were "historical" beer cans (Jimmy Buffet, pop-top types), but little trash overall. Good. I wasn't thrilled about hauling trash through the muddy crawl that lay ahead. The tight passage was half-filled with mud with the texture of chocolate mousse. The crawl opened into stoop passage and then a large room. Past the breakdown blocks and chalk was a nice display of stalagmites and stalactites, columns, and flow stone goodies. Aimee Beveridge, Robin Havens, Justin Shaw, Marcus Gary, and David Turner pose for a group shot. Mike Walsh had been talking excitedly at a Dr Grotto meeting about a piece of property in Williamson County recently acquired by the Texas Cave Conservancy. He spoke of clean, dry, walking passage, pretty formations, and "Whirlpool on steroids!" I pictured the Incredible Hulk and shuddered. He was looking for people to remove trash in trade for checking out what the cave had Mike Walsh poses with some of the trash collected from the cave. 56 Curiously, nearly every formation had a horizontal crack near the top. We surmised that the floor had dropped a couple of inches at some point, breaking formations as it went. Beyond the big room there was plenty more crawling and stooping with another room near the end. This room had delicate soda straws and pretty formations surrounding a small pool. The main passage continued to beckon. Tempting, but we were concerned about making the others wait in the cold, so we decided to head back. The mud Doug Mammoser shows off his booty for the day. made dragging our cave packs easy, and we had a good time taking pictures of each other as we emerged from the mud crawl. Packs full of garbage and plenty of mud were our rewards for the morning's efforts. All photos by Aimee Beveridge. THE TEXAS CAVER Andy Gluesenkamp exits the Right Hand Passage while Doug Mammoser and James Lopez look on.


MAY/JUNE 2000 John Moses Reprinted from Speleospace, the Greater Houston Grotto newsletter. Justin Shaw organized this photo trip yelled at James to give me a pull. He pulled, lower level. The passage was somewhat small via CaveTex. Eleven cavers signed up for Stefan pushed, and the requisite magic hapfor all seven photographers to attempt to set the visit to the gated District Park Cave in pened. up at the same time. We removed our helmets Austin. Seven actually showed up in the The first room was well-decorated with to avoid accidentally clinking the soda straws parking lot at J OAM on a cool, Sunday mornspeleothems. Justin explained he had epcovering the ceiling, ing, 2 February, 2000: Allan Cobb, Stefan oxied many of the formations back into place While the sum of the passage in the cave Cressler, Greg Geist, James Lopez, Conrad after vandals had gotten into the cave, We is probably less than 200 feet, we spent betSchneiker, Justin, and me, Surrounded by spent the better part of an hour taking photel' than three hours poking, prodding, and local folks enjoying such normal park arnenitos in the room. I was trying out my old taking photos. There is one ongoing dig ties as jogging and dog walking, we headed Nikonos Ill camera and Ikelite strobe, both project on a crawl from tbe upper formation room. Thus assured that we'd done it all, [ led our way out of the cave. We'd locked the gate behind us coming iota the cave. It took me three tries on the lock to encourage the mechanism to move. This should have been the easy side from which to access the lock. Don't quite know how you do it from the outside with aJl but one arm wedged in the crawl. Since f knew now that [had been able to push through the squeeze into the cave, getting out was just matter of overcoming volume and gravity. 1 don't know where all the little rocks bad come from that were now wedged between me and the floor. 1 vigorously exhaled and blew grit back onto my teeth. Entrance fever gave me all the energy 1 needed to quickly push on up and out. Back in the daylight world, the park users had morphed from the yuppie joggers to the extended family picnickers. They politely ignored us as we packed the gear, thanked J ustin for organizing the excursion, and hit the road. All photos by Aimee Beveridge. District Park Cave Kimberly Davis negotiates the entrance of District Park Cave. through the wooded area to the entrance. The location would be less conspicuous if the park district hadn't put a threefoot high stone wall around the perimeter of the brushy sinkhole, The cave had originally consisted of a40-foot descending crawl way. A successful dig broke into a decorated room that more than doubled the length of the cave. The gate is positioned just before the room to discourage the casual vandal. The crawl in front of the gate is sufficient to provide some discouragement to us full-figured cavers, Jt is tight. I pushed the pack through the gate, thinking, "Nobody mentioned this." I took a couple of shallow breaths, exhaled to minimize the height of my chest and forced my sternum through, success ... or at least it used to be when the argest part of the body was the chest. This time there was still a problem, The arse did not want to follow tbe chest through the crawlway. Never too proud to ask for help, J THE Tc'XAS CAVER of which had stayed on the shelf for the past few years. Based on this experience, they'll probably go back, There were lots of problems. While they should be dependable, as both are waterproof and rugged, the film advance and sync were off. This was the first trip I've seen LED headlamps being used as primary light. Conrad had the "Action Light." and Allan had a homemade version with six lights clustered together. In the small cave, both put out sufficient light, and their owners claimed a long life on a few batteries. Justin had permission for the trip to go "off-trail" and visit some areas normaUy not seen. He took half the group down through a hole in the breakdown to a decorated Brian and Laticia Trowbridge check out District Park Cave. 57


MAY/JUNE 2000 t' ., C~t< _~...lll.~.~ ~ cj Will Harris at the top of the second climb. Will Harris On Friday morning, March 17, 2000, Aaron Addison and I left Austin and headed out to the West Texas town of Ozona. We had to be there by noon, in order to give the release to the landowner's assistant. On the way there, we were making good time, so we decided to stop by Caverns of Sonora to leave some TSA brochures at the visitor's center. We then proceeded on to Ozona. Since we did not have any place to camp for the night, we asked the landowner's assistant if she knew of a place for us to stay. She suggested that we go talk to the owner of the local feed-store, the guy who knows everyone in town. He agreed to let us camp in the lot next to his store on the condition that we come in the next morning and talk with all the local ranchers. Now that we had a place to camp for the night, we ate a quick lunch and headed out to the cave. After driving through miles of oil fields, we finally made it to the road near the cave. 58 Water Cave We then put our caving gear on and hiked to the entrance. The entrance to Water Cave is a narrow crack in the middle of a draw, Though it has not rained in the area since last June, it was obvious that the cave normally takes on large amounts of water. Aaron and I entered the cave and climbed down to a room with several ;1' passages leading from it. After quickly checking the higher passages, we proceeded down the lowest passage. This passage led through a few crawls and small rooms and then opened out near the top of a 20-foot tall room. At first, the cave had matched perfectly with the previous description, but by this point the description no longer made any sense. Two crawlways led off from the bottom of the room. We decided to go down the larger of the two. At three different points in the crawlway, small cracks opened to a water-filled passage five or six feet below. We also noticed good airflow at several points in the crawlway. We crawled for around 500 feet through the winding passage, at which point Aaron decided not to go any further. I continued on for at least another 500 feet to where there were no more loose rocks on the bottom of the passage. There, the passage split into two body-sized tubes, both of which appeared to go in the same direction. At that point, I decided to turn around and head back. I met back up with Aaron, and we both continued out to the 20-foot tall room. After crawling for three hours, it was good to finally be able to stand up again. Aaron and I rested for a few minutes and then headed out of the cave and back to Ozona. Once back in town, we ate dinner and set up camp. At about 1:00AM, Terry Holsinger and Joe Ivy managed to find us at the feed-store after driving up and down most of the streets in Ozona. On Saturday morning, we all got up and went inside the feed-store to meet all the local ranchers. They were all very interested in what we were doing and had several good cave-related stories to tell us, including one about getting stuck at the bottom of 0-9 Well. We stayed there for about an hour, and then we went back to the cave to start the survey. Once we made it back to the cave, we put our gear on and went inside. While Terry and Aaron looked for more passages, Ioe and I began the survey. As we continued the survey down the main passage, we passed Terry and Aaron on their way back out. It turns outthatTerry doesn't like small crawlways very much! We surveyed to the beginning of the crawlway, at which point we debated continuing down it. We were all getting a little tired, so after a few minutes we agreed to save the survey of the crawlway for the next trip. We then headed out of the cave and hack to the vehicles. After resting for a while, we drove back to Ozona for dinner. During dinner, Aaron, Joe, and Terry told some great caving stories. I never realized that there were so m ~ caves in Texas. Their stories encourag me to work harder at finding new caves and to make sure that I go caving with them more often. When we finished eating, we tried to think of another cave to go to in the area., but after an hour or so, we finally decided just to go back to Austin. Photos by Joe Ivy. __ wA.J Aaron Addison in the middle level. THE TEXAS CAVER


MA Y/JUNE 2000 High Guads Restoration Allen Laman The January 29 & 30, 2000 High Guads Restoration Project had 10 cavers from three states (New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado). We did restoration in Three Fingers and Pink Dragon, and monitoring in Black. We contributed a total of $2883.38 cave volunteer value towards the cave resources of the Lincoln National Forest. Friday started with snow flurries, making me change my mind about camping in my tent and hurriedly get my camper in shape to take one more trip up the Hill. It didn't take long; I left Odessa about 3rM and arrived at Texas camp about7PM. After setting up camp, I got a fire started. It wasn't long until Mike showed up. We kept the fire warm, and soon the crew from Socorro showed. We sat around until about midnight and then turned in. Saturday started out beautifully; the sun was shining, but it was a little chilly. Sometime during the night, Cristin and BaiTY owed up from Durango. Everybody got eakfast out of the way, and Mike held orientation at 9AM. He went over the usual stuff like falling into holes and how dark it is without any light. We got everybody assigned to a cave for the day and broke up into our groups. Three Fingers Trip leader: Allen Laman. Participants: Cristin Rapp (Crit), Barry Kennedy, Carsten Brandt, Rob Wulff and Phyllis Boneau. We left camp at 9:45AM and arrived at the parking lot about 10:15AM. There I held a short safety meeting covering the hike and making sure everyone had the proper equipment i.e: extra lights, batteries, water and food and that everybody understood the demands of the cave. We then hiked to the cave and arrived at the entrance about 11 :OOAM. I rigged the drop and explained the rebelay. I went first and asked Barry to come down and make sure everyone got on the rebelay safely. Rob stayed up top to insure everyone got rigged up safely. We all got down without a hitch and did short tour of the Bell Canopy Room mak19 a count of the supplies that were there. I counted three gallons of water and three resto kits that are behind the boulder on the Lunch Rock in the middle of the room. [ placed THE TEXAS CAVER a film container with bleach on a piece of sponge in the mylar bag with the kits. There are no wet sponges in there now, but it is there for when we need to leave sponges in the future. We went back to the entrance and started replacing the bits of flagging with full-length pieces of flagging, since we have had complaints that the trail was not easy to distinguish. Using blue and white tape, we flagged the trail to Meador Pincher and also over the flowstone into the Bell Canopy Room. We then went to the Pizza Shield to finish marking the low formations with red and white tape and writing "WATCH YOUR HEAD" on it (the tape that is). I also took several photos of some places that really need cleaning. We then headed for Meador Pincher. I rigged a handline to make it easier to get down and explained that when you go down, you have to start left and go to the right, and be careful because of the draperies below. Rob went down without the help of the handline then I went to help the others. We all got down, but when Barry was coming down on a Munter Hitch he accidentally kicked and broke one of the draperies. We located the piece and put it where it wouldn't get misplaced, so we can fix it when we return with some epoxy. We checked to make sure nothing else was damaged and continued on to the Temple of the Fiery Cave God assessing what needs to be done in the future. At the Temple we stopped for a short lunch break. I left a mylar bag there with the other film container of bleach, as I didn't know where Mike had stashed the resto gear he had left. Then after checking with everyone to see how they were feeling, I rigged the drop to go to the Kitty Kat Complex. Carsten didn't want to go down so stayed above to take some photos. lied the rest of the group down, and then we went to visit the bones. There is a lot of cleaning that needs to be done. We added some flagging to some of the trails to make the trip easier and to reduce impact. At the bones we found several bat skeletons that we flagged to keep them from being disturbed. By this time everyone was getting tired, so we decided to wrap it up for this trip. I had already asked Barry and Cristin to go up, so we would not be waiting around too much. Phyllis, Rob, and I were close behind. I got everyone up and brought up the rear. We pulled up the rope, coiled it and started out. We were very careful on the way back through Meador Pincher and got up without too much waiting around. We exited the cave and started up the ridge. I went slowly with Phyllis, since she had had a long day. When we were about half-way up, I saw a light coming down the hill. !told Phyllis it was probably one of the other guys coming to help her with her pack. It was BalTY, who did take her pack. She was incredulous that I could know that someone was coming to help. Anyway, we were back at the truck by 9:00PM and back at camp by9:25. Pink Dragon Trip Leader: Mike Huber. Participants: Diedre Hirschfield, Marel Hirschfield and Magail Medina. We left camp at 9:45 and arrived at the cave at I 0:45. We had packed some shovels and a pry bar to use to stabilize the entrance trail going down the climb-down. Since there wasn't much room to work on the trail area, I worked the lower trail while Deidre, Marel and Magail collected and passed rocks down to me to stabilize the trail, We used large (one-to-two feet across) flat rocks, buried on end, to stabilize the loose dirt and keep it from going down the hill into the drop zone. About 20 feet down the slope, I noticed a hibernating bat on the wall, just above where we were working. I quietly alerted the rest ofthe crew, and we tried to tone down our noise level so as not to disturb it. After finishing the level I was on, I called off the trail work, and we went back up to the entrance and had lunch. I stashed the shovels and crow bar in the back of the left-hand tunnel in the entrance room to use later when the bat decides to wake up and move. Some trai l work also needs to be done below the climbdown. We decided to go ahead and enter the cave to inspect the trails and see what else needed to be done. Magail didn't want to enter the lower level and decided to head back to the truck instead. I told her we would Continued on p. 77 59


MAYIJUNE 2000 Melanie Alspaugh The new year was approaching-The Year 2000!-and as is somewhat the tradition among Austin cavers, we headed for the border. Jean (Creature) Krecja's Xilitla 2000 celebration in the Birdhouse was on, so we commenced our journey toward el estado de San Luis Potosi. Leaving Austin, the Land Cruiser's driver, Andy Gluesenkamp, was accompanied by Joy Cukierman, Andy's friend from California, Judy Sheen, and myself. OUf road partners and fellow cavers were James Lopez and Robin Havens in James' FordF250. December 27, clear blue skies, 70 degrees. Vamonas! Our plan was originally to go by Aquism6n and drop Golondrinas and a few "smaller" caves on our way to Xilitla. Of course, what is planned and what occurs is rarely the same, especially amongst cavers, especially in Mexico. After a leisurely ride down, punctuated by a stay at the Hostel Escand6n in Ciudad Vicoria, we ran into Creature, Kim Bauer, and their gang from lllinois in the town square. After a short visit with them, breakfast at the Cafe Cant6n, and shopping in the mercado, we were packed and on the road, noon straight up. Andean music playing in the parking lot of the Sierra Gorda, Mexican pop in the SuperTienda, Conjunto on the Plaza ... everywhere, music. Impeccable weather, friends, and a gorgeous view of the Sierra Madre Oriental to the west, going south out oflown. Highway 85, the Pan-American Highway! Mante! Valles! Arriba' ... Life don't get no better. .. or maybe it does, but the story's not over. We stopped by the Gruta de Quintero, just south of Mante, a big cave that's been bulldozed out for mining purposes. There were lots of bats in the right-side passage near the entrance. Andy went skinny-dipping for cave shrimp in a lake at the back of the cave, but his attempt at capture was unsuccessful. He did, however, enjoy getting wet. After stopping for tacos at a roadside stand (two pesos each), we arrived in Aquism6njust after dark. At the Hotel San Cosme on the square, we immediately found 60 Xilitla 2000 Mike Walsh and Terri Whitfield, who were in the area working on a road log and improved map for cavers. We decided to spend the next day looking for a cave that Mike had recently relocated, Hoya de Quital. This cave, which has at least three known entrances, is situated a few kilometers southeast of the town of Paxalja, a small village Robin gets excited about Hoya de Quile. Photo by Melonie Alspaugh. off the road to Golondrinas. We started our hike out of town on a seemingly ancient footpath, passing a large rock mound that doesn't look to be of natura] origin; Mike believes it is the site of another ancient pyramid, buried by time. (It's plausible; there is a known Mayan route with ancient pyramid mounds to the northeast of the area.) The rocky path, paved at first with stones and later passing over sharp, high karst pinnacles, winds over ridges and past stunning views of the neighboring sierras. It then passes alongside an enormous, gaping pit entrance, Hoya de Quile. (At first sight, I thought the opposite wall was a cliff face.) Mike's original estimate of a one-anda-half-hour hike turned into about three wben we were misdirected from our path by a coffee bean farmer who must not have wanted people traipsing through his groves. ltlooked like picking season, judging by the piles of beans we saw spread out to dry on mud slabs in the forest. The farmer told Robin and James that the path to the cave was par alia, which was not very helpful. We found ourselves par alia in the dense vegetation with barely a path at all. Luckily, we found a young man with a slingshot ("Estoy buscando pajaros") named Francisco, who agreed to guide us to our destination. When we asked bow far the cave was from the bottom of the dolina we stood in, he replied the usual, "Quince minutos. After another hour's hike, n." through dense forest full of bloomi.; impatients, orange, banana, and coffee groves, we arrived at the immense pit entrance of Hoy a de Quital. The pit is 60 by 150 meters and is reported to be 160 meters deep (Raines, The Caves of Mexico); it was very impressive. From the low side, one can enter under a large natural bridge, down a ten-meter drop where a very frightening rotted ladder sits, probably used by locals to catch parrots that roost in the pit. The bottom of the pit is 90 meters below this entrance and is apparently accessible without rope via a traverse. However, we weren't aware of this option, and some in our group were not pre~ pared to do such an intimidating descent, so James, Andy, and I descended the ten meters down to a ledge, looked out over the gaping hole, and listened to the parrots squawk and cackle to each other as they swept through the void. It would have been so nice to go down but, as we'd spent most of our daylight hours wandering the dens forest, we also were quite comfortable wi the idea of getting back to our known path before dark. The hike back was a swift and pleasant hour-and-a-half, and we reached the trucks, and some very tasty cold THe TEXAS CAVER


l cervezas, just at dusk. Although we didn't ~o as much caving as we'd hoped to do, it .as a day well spent roaming the mountains. When we arrived back in town, we encountered a rather large group (12) from Indiana/Kentucky who were also planning to drop Golondrinas on New Year's Eve. We weren't interested in being part of a traffic jam at the pit (which seems to be an everMAY/JUNE 2000 yourself deep in the heart of another cnlture, you can't expect people to suddenly bend to your social conventions, act like Americans. Anyway, I digress ... We had no trouble finding our guide for the afternoon, an older teenager named Maxim, who had made it a point to stand very close to us and answer any questions we had for him. He led us to two pits. The first and smaller one is located just off the path at the edge of a clearing, about a kilometer from town; the other, much deeper (128 meters according to Raines) sits atop the ridge above town. Maxim insisted that these were the only two in the area, aside from one located on a private coffee grove that would require arrangements with the owner and payment of 2000 pesos (yeah, right) to see. We knew from other sources that there was at least one other cave nearby, but it was obvious that Maxim was either unwilling or unable to divulge this information. We decided to return to Solano de La Linja, the first pit with the less daunting drop (55 meters). James, Andy, and ] tried out our ropewalker systems in preparation for doing the pigtail changeover in Golondrinas, and a very excited Robin dropped her first pit on a frog system. She did this easily and gracefully, and even got over the difficult lip which was covered with plants, roots, and dirt (We ropewakers struggled and flailed past this, both on descent and ascent!). At the bottom of the beautiful, bell-shaped pit (30 x 60 meters at top, 80 x 100 at bottom), Andy found parrot skulls, shattered dog bones, and even porcupine teeth. Also at the bottom were lichen, ferns, and other dense vegetation. As Robin ascended with gleeful shouts.I was left alone to enjoy the quiet twilight of the lower cave and watch the sun slowly trace its beam across the upper entrance area. I sat and listened to the slow, echoing drip of water off the walls inside and was grateful to be alive. After a short hike back to town, we threw our gear into the trucks and prepared to head south, but not before James found a nail Melonie frogs out of Sotano de La Linja. Photo by Robin Havens. more-frequent phenomenon), and decided to check out some caves around the village of La Linja before heading to the Birdhouse for the fun, friends, and festivities of the new millennium. Upon our arrival at the soccer field in La Linja, we were greeted by the usual group of curious, mostly young, male locals, who stared quietly at us at they slowly surrounded the vehicles. While I've noticed that some visiting gringos may consider this behavior rude and even take offense (or at _east become uncomfortable with it, as did .orne in our group), I had come to view it as a sort of ritual, and it is certainly to be expected. How could we not draw attention with our big vehicles, our shiny equipment, and our relative wealth? When you place THE TIi,'XAS' CAVEll propped up behind one of his rear tires, and a rock placed ever-so-strategically against the corresponding front tire. Those little *$#'s! We expected the usual mischief like graffiti etched into the muddy vehicles and mirrors knocked out of adjustment, but nothing quite so potentially damaging. Maxim blamed it on the little boys in town; we laughed and remained pleasant about it, then got the hell out. About two hours later, we pulled into the Birdhouse. December 30, !999, 7:00 pm. We were greeted by a small fire near the parking area at the park entrance. By the light of the fire, Andy and I recognized Marcus Gary, a cave diver from Austin, who introduced us to his friends, Ben, Rick, Peter, and Jennifer. Creature was apparently still out caving somewhere, so Marcus showed us up to the Casa Azul, the party's nexus inside the park. I met and chatted with some of the nonAustin contingent (the party would uJtimately have about 50 attendees from five states I). Later, some of us Austinites decided to sleep atop one of the high concrete surrealist structures in the park. It was sublime. We fell asleep with the bright stars and high trees above, and the sounds of various insects in the forest. We awoke to a bright orange sunrise, clear blue skies, crisp air, the same said insects singing, and birds of all sounds chirping in the trees.! found myself surrounded on all sides by dense, lush vegetation spotted with orchids and various other colorful blossoms. I couldn't imagine a belter way to bring in the last day of the last month of the last year of the 1900s! December 31,1999. After spending part of the day shopping and eating in town, many of us returned to the Birdhouse, otherwise known as Las Pozas (the pools) de Edward James. Some went swimming in the cold, 57-degree water (according to Marcus' watch and judging by the shivers of many who swam).! wandered around for awhile, exploring the winding stone staircases that lead into dense jungle or up and into the amazing surrealist concrete structures built by a Brit named Edward James during the 1950s-1980s. Some of these structuresmazelike and Escheresque-take the form of bamboo, orchids and other plants like those surrounding them. They were once bright with paint, and some had housed exotic birds from around the worJd. All are now faded, partially covered in lichen and moss, and slowly being engulfed by the humid tropical forest. For this, they are no less 61


beautiful and extraordinary. The Birdhouse is truly a unique place, a singular invention by a man who possessed an incredible imagination and the wealth necessary to make his dreams a real, physical place on Earth. And, as anyone who's been there will tell you, the experience of it is an exceptional one. (For more on Edward James and the Fantastic structures in the jungle typify EI Castillo. Photo by Melonie Alspaugh. history of Las Pozas, see the April 1994 issue of Smithsonian magazine, the April 1998 issue of Texas Monthly, or visit the website Early afternoon turned to late afternoon, and severaJ of us climbed the steep, stonelaid path leading to the main spring and the highest poza. The water flows over travertine pools to fall 70 feet down to the lower pools in the entrance area of the park. We crossed the slippery, mossy rock for an astounding view of the forest below. Evening arrived, and the festivities commenced in earnest. We enjoyed a splendid dinner, comprised of delicious local breads, fruits and legumes and complemented by a very strong punch, beer and tequila. The ensuing festivities included a pinata, drumming, a fire, bubbles, toffee, a champagne toast, sparklers, and fireworks. To adequately describe the events of the night would require another article, so suffice it to say that it was without a doubt an excep62 MAY IJUNE 2000 tional New Year's Eve. The place, the people, the spirit, the energy-the entire experience was unforgettable. Kudos go to Creature and her friend Kim Bauer for staying committed to an idea that originated on another New Year's Eve ten years ago. As the party wound down and we slowly dispersed to our forest hideaways, I accompanied Robin (who had unfortunately come down with an especial1y ill-timed case of "Montezuma's revenge") up to our chosen high, flat spot atop a concrete structure. As she settled into her sleeping bag, 1 watched the lights and listened to the music that floated over from town, across the valley. I sat up star-gazing, wondering a little about the state of the rest of the world at that moment, and marveli ng at the beauty that snrrounded me. 1 concluded that there real1y was nowhere else on Earth 1 wanted to be at that moment. I said goodbye to the 1900s, thanked The Powers That Be for allowing me such an extraordinary experience, and went easily and happily to sleep. January I, 2000.! awoke to the same sweet singing of birds in the trees, a flawless blue sky, and our friend Benito the night guard jovially yelling, "Llevantase! Llevantase!" He hung out chatting with Rick, Ben, and Robin (who was feeling much better!) while we gathered our bags and Thermarests. Today, some of us would go our separate ways, headiug north at different speeds, taking different detours aJong the way. Joy had to catch an early ride north with Terri and Mike, so our group was down to five: Andy, Judy, James, Robin, and me. Next stop: Golondrinas. By mid-afternoon, we were on our way back to Aquismon, stopping briefly to check a cave near Limoncito,just off the highway. Back at the hotel, we sat out on our secondstory porch and cooked dinner on our stoves, discussing the next day's plans. Creature, Vivian Loftin, Pete Shifflet, Gary Dunkley, Kim Davis, and Laura Higgins showed up in town just after nightfaJl, on their way to the pit, where they planned to camp. They offered to take the rope and rig it, as Creature and Vivian would be first to drop the pit early the next morning. As it turned out, Solo (Jack White) had spent New Year's Eve alone with the birds (funny thing for a guy cal1ed Solo) at the bottom and was de-rigging the pit when the others showed up. He offered to leave his rope (Cancord polyester-heavenly!) for the fou.; of us who would descend, and returned f. it later that day. When we arrived at around lOAM, Vivian was already down, and Creature was on rope. It was time. We signed the log and paid a local man either ten pesos to watch or twenty to descend. We soon heard the faint, familiar echo from Jean (although MUCH longer and more distant this time!): "oooooffff rooooooooooope!" My turn. "Am 1 really going to do this?" I knew the answer was Yes. Twice, knowing that! wasn't really ready, physically or mentally, I had missed chances to descend this fabled sotano. This time I was prepared, but that didn't stop the butterflies from taking flight iu the depths of my belly. Sitting at the edge of 1080 feet of Dark, Empty Space, staring at an Ilmmrope-my lifeline-feeling the fear of it all, a joke I once heard about a falling man came to mind, something about how the fall was quite nice, but it was the landing that got him .... hmmrn, "Maybe it's a good day to die," 1 thought. Naw, it's a good day to live! "Wow, that's a long way down ... 1 can't even see the girls' helmets ... lea'" believe I'm doing this." It's kind of like stan

MAY/JUNE 2000 the call, "Ooooooofffffff Rooooooooope!" from above, and started climbing. Andy and I had chosen to use ropewalkers for our climb, which made the ascent quite comfortable, at least for me. Forty steps, rest, enjoy the view, etc. (At least I enjoyed the view; Andy's story differs slightly-but that's his story). The climh was exerting but not exothers descend or ascend. In an hour and fifteen minutes, I was standing on the large, solid limestone at the top of the pit, tired but exhilarated. In the five hours we'd spent below, dozens of people had arrived, Mexican visitors as well as many of the Xilitla group. Some of us began the process of pulling up the rope, and 1 eventually gave over my duties to someone who had not just climhed 1,100 feet. I chatted with some Mexicans, then with some others in our group, as everyone awaited dusk and the return flight of thousands of parrots and swifts to their home, the Sotano. It was a spectacular event, complemented by perfect blue skies, a beautiful sunset, and of course by the company of wonderful people. As the night fell, we made our way back to the vehicles and a champagne toast to a pit well-bopped. After a snack stop at our favorite taco stand in Aquism6n, we said our good byes and the mass of 20 again became five as our crew headed north to the Hotel Taninul. For our last night in Mexico, James suggested we indulge in pure luxury: a heavenly soak in the hotel's warm sulfur springs and the sipping of our favorite beverages. It was worth every bit of the ten dollars we each spent. In the end, James and Andy decided to get a separate room, and Robin, Judy, and J sighed in relief as we plopped down on our VERY comfy bedstonight, we wouldn't have to hear Andy snore! firm that Andy was on rope. I was glad he'd decided to join us. While the other two connued on their 'periphery walk,' T wandered to the opposite side of the chamber, listening to the squawk of the parrots and the rustle oftbe swifts. T meditated on the quiet, otherworldly quality of the landscape, green-red with moss and lichen, set against the dark brown of the humid earth. The bottom of this pit knows only twilight and darkness. It is barren, yet so full of life. T made an attempt to etch the moment into my memory, knowing that a photograph would never capture the staggering size of the chamber, the smel1 of the wet earth, or the faint echoing sounds ofthe birds as they took flight. After some time, Andy made it to the bottom, having had some ;\ complications, one involving a L.._ ... 0Jii,;;;.;.-. The crew in Andy's Cruiser. Photo by Robin Havens. stray bandana getting caught in his rack. The four of us chatted a while, taking hausting, and I attrihuted my physical comturns at signing the pit log. Creature and Viv fort to the ropewalker. Still, even when we soon began the long climb out in tandem on had climbed a good while, the bright ring of frog systems. As we waited, Andy found light seemed to stay the same, and so did iscellaneous trash and came up with the my point of reference-the fallen caverea of making a "dead caver." Yes, cavers below. Andy and I had had the same sensasometimes have a sick sense of humor, but I tion when we periodically checked the girls' chose to think of the form as a sort of scareprogress on their climb. An hour had passed, crow, built to ward off back luck and the and it seemed as if they were in the same possibility of areal fallen caver. Golondrinas place. What a distance! They say that the has seen no fatal or serious caving accibell shape of the cave creates an illusion of dents, and I hope it never will. So, we soon less depth; you only get a sense of the real had an impressive seven-foot caver, splayed depth when you are on rope, or watching out on the cave tloor, his form quite visible

.1 MAY/JUNE 2000 Cuevas y Sotanos: A Mexican Adventure Yvonne Drams Feb 19-24, 2000 Tamapatz, San Luis cave. The true meaning of why Joe and miles later, two small kids attach themselves Patosf, Mexico. Yvonne Drams, Errol Becky were trying to hide their amusement to our bumper and ride the rest of the way Glidden, Carl Heitmeyer, JoeIvy, and Becky when they sent us there soon became apwith us to the parking area for Golondrinas ... Jones. parent: it was a cockroach-infested cave. As soon as we park on the side of the It all started in Becky's and Joe's front Huge cockroaches the size of my thumb, no mountain road, near the trail to the cave, yard in Austin, Texas. Instead of flowers and less. Wall-to-wall cockroaches. For the first we're swarmed by smiling, curious, little climbing vines, they grow ropes there. The time in my life, I was able to closely examine kids. The Urchins, as Becky calls them. Some trees are connected, spiderweb-like, with a these critters, since they had no way to esadults also plant themselves a few feet away tangle of ropes, and if you want to go with cape. Very pretty, and colorful, actually. Wby and impassively watch everything we're doJoe and Becky to Mexico, you'd better be had I thought they were disgusting? We reing, totally oblivious of how rude itis in our able to handle that rebelay course gracetreated to the hot pool and so ended our culture to sit and stare at strangers. We befully. It is called the Forest of Woe and is full first day in Mexico. came used to being watched from close-up, of rebelays, redirects, and it soon stops bothknots, and traverses. So ering us. for part of the evening, we As we unpack our tested our equipment and gear, little hands take our tried not to make fools of helmets and put them on, ourselves, with varied detry out our ligbts, shoulgrees of success. der our packs, but nothDay one. We must ing is missing or out of have passed muster, beplace when we're ready cause the following day, to hike to the cave. off we were in The trail to the pi I "Chamaco," Joe's huge unlike many years ago, Suburban, loaded almost a piece of cake. No more to the max. Gigantic spare burros needed, no more tires and jerry cans of gas half-day killer hikes. Fifand water adorned the teen minutes, including a roof, while caving gear, stop for Becky to talk to over 1000 meters of rope, some women and give camping, and cooking them a few bags of equipment were stuffed tightly on two levels in the clothes, and we're there. extended luggage com"i Errol volunteers to carry partment. A lazy dog Carl starts the rappel in to Sotano de las Golondrinas. Joe Ivy photo. the400-meter,llmmrope named Tess could be found buried in it all and little Mexican helprDay two. We shop for a week's worth of Id f somewhere, her nose peeking out 'I 'rain bef d ers no 0 er than eight or ten grab some a 00 and in the afternoon, we head for neath a sleeping bag or a pillow. G I d our heavy vertical packs, hoping to earn a a on rinas, the deepest free-drop pit in the little treat. Seven hundred and fifty miles, 16 hours, world. The drive there is interesting. As soon a border crossing, a few military and drugHere we are, at El S6tano de las as we started up the steep mountain road, G 1 ....... Fi d search check-points later, we arrived at our a ononnas.. inally, the long-awaite rnowe were asked for a ride by a teenager walkI h destination for the first night: the upscale I h ment to oak over the edge, to see w at we ~ng a ong t e road. We had room, so he got Hotel Taninul in the jungle near Ciudad A are up against, what I have climbed starrIn. couple m.iles later, another hitchhiker, 85 d f Valles. We checked into our room and Id ways tunes in a row to get prepare or, an 0 man. Still room on the front seat, so in kat headed for the hot-springs pool. While Joe h W d wee terweek ... Well, I must say, it's pretty e goes. e rop them off a bit out of our and Becky relaxed in the hot water, the rest th 11 impressive, Looking down, it goes, and goes, way m e vi age ofLaLinja, then head back of us went to explore a little cave nearby in t h and goes ... for 330 meters. Joe rigs the Pit o t e proper road. This time it's a woman our swimsuits and sandals, ith I' around a protruding tree and backs up the Wit a ittle girl who stops us. OK, why not. It was hard to compete with the bats flyH h b d rope to a hole in the cliff wall, creating a er us an appears from wbere he wa ing in and out through the narrow entrance hidi s traverse line we can hook into. I mg across the road, and in he goes too, all of Cueva de Taninul, but we made it in, and th I h We lower one end of the rope, and it ree peop e uddled together on the front eventually worked our way through disgustgoes slithering down into tbe pit. Around passenger seat, but very happy not to walk 5 30 if ing, guano-lined passage to the back of the h II til: PM, Carl clips into the traverse line, li ts up 1 or m es. We drop them off, and a few 64 a bight of the 32-kilo rope, and clips his THE TEXAS CAVER


rappel rack into it, then goes over the edge. ~e take pictures and videos of his smiling wce. He disappears into the void, and we follow his progress from the edge. We hear and feel the rope "singing," and Joe comments that he's going fast... As a matter of fact he zips down that rope in less than three minutes, incredible! He tells us later that he had to add his sixth bar while on the tly and shows us a big blister where he burned his hand right through the glove, and the little globs of plastic on his rack-melted rope. He's off rope, and I decide to go next. I remember to concentrate on the fact that going down 330 meters isn't any more deadly than going down 20, so why worry, Joe helps me lift a loop of rope to make it easier to clip my rack in. Finally I swing into the pit and smile for the obligatory picture. Then I get to look down, and wow, what an amazing feeling it is, to see all that distance below me, in broad daylight. I'm super thrilled J'm not going anywhere, though, so I remove a bar, and spread out the others. It's a bit jerky in the beginning, but eventually I get it right and start the descent. Groups of white-collared swifts, the lonctrinas, are starting to come back from eir day's foray, and they are circling in the sky above the pit. When a large group has formed, they suddenly all start plunging into the pit like arrows, falling straight down through the opening. As you hang on rope, they pass by you with swooshing sounds and disappear below. What a sight' Mid-level in the pit, perched on ledges, chattering parrots voice their discontent as you slither past them. Their fluorescentgreen feathers make them stand out against the rock. [totally enjoy my ride down, staying under control, looking up and down and all around me. No free-fall for me, but rather a steady, leisurely pace, so I can take it all in. Twelve minutes later, I land and let out the stretch of the rope. While Errol takes his turn, Ijoin Carl in a tour of the seven-acre bottom. We hike around in the deep guano layers or climb up or down hills and little cliffs of slippery rocks. The floor is green with moss in this strangely lit, twilight-like attnosphere, and it feels like you're in a different world. We arch for holes in the ground or along the ails, butfmd no leads. In the meantime Errol and Becky have arrived. Errol shows off a very impressive rope burn on his leg, which he acquired when his pant leg rolled up while he was trying to slow himself down. THETEXA.',.CAVER MA YIWNE 2000 We get ready for the ascent, and Carl and Becky start out. Becky is on a frog, but it still only takes them 55 minutes to get off rope. Errol and I then tandem out, but I stick to my resolution not to kill myself the very first day. I take it easy, setting a comfortable pace of going up 50 steps on my rope walker each time. Errol is below me, and he catches up in 42 paces. "At your pack," he says each time, and up I go for another round of climbing. "OK" is my cue for him to start up again. We talk very little, saving our breath for the climb. The only sounds come from the chirping of hundreds of birds nested along the walls of the pit and chatting amongst themselves. The night has fallen, and I find it too bad that I can't see the edges of the pit and the floor any more. I climb in the dark, with my light off. The routine sets in. We take a couple of little breaks, and I drink some water. One hour and nine minutes after getting on rope, I clip my cow's tail into the traverse line and get off rope. By ten o'clock, we are pulling up the rope, hand over hand, and the usual assortment of small, medium, and bigger urchins are pulling too. We spend quite a bit oftime teaching the kids how to pack the rope very tightly into the rope bag. Then we hike back to the truck, stopping at the new tienda to buy some sodas for our helpers. We socialize for a while with the urchins and their parents, then drive off. I feel quite contented with my first day of caving. Four of us bopped the 330-meter pit in four-anda-half hours. Not bad. We bump along the steep, dirt, mountain road until we reach the town of Tarnapatz-our home for the next six days. I can't wait to see the slaughterhouse flop room where we are supposedly staying. Up on a flat roof-top, covered with big piles of coffee beans in their husks, we discover a series of little cubicles. We take possession of one of the threeby-four-meter cement cubes and proceed to make it look very cozy by lining the entire floor with rainbow-colored sleeping bags, Thermarests, and duffel bags. We set up our kitchen in a covered alcove nearby. We duck under a long Line of wet laundry someone had hung up on the terrace, and Becky starts cooking. It is way after midnight, and whatever she cooked really hit the spot. Day three. It's Sunday, market day in Tamapatz. We cross town with our cave gear on, carrying aJl our ropes, and admire the intricate and very colorful special-day clothing of the natives, while they admire the size of the gringos passing through. The women wear colorful dresses, and head-pieces made of what seems like miles of multi-colored yarn. We have a 12-year-old with us who's proposed himself as a guide, and he carries one of our vertical packs. Soon a friend of his appears out of the blue, and now we have two guides. Our diminutive leaders, Emeterio and Junior, guide us through town. It's raining lightly; we slip and slide down the mountain, then stumble up the other side. You have to see this terrain to believe it. There are 110 valleys here, just huge, deep sinkholes called dolinas, and rounded mountainEmeterio and Junior on the trail between Ccpillo and Santaxol. Becky Jones photo. tops. There is no way to go anywhere in a straight line; instead you must go up then down or around five hills before you can reach the opposite slope. Dolinas are everywhere, and they measure hundreds or even thousands of feet across, and hundreds of feet deep, being collapsed former caves. This is the land of the pits. Big pits. Once you're in a dolina and you start hiking around, your way is barred by sharp, tortured, Swiss cheese-like formations made oflimestone, which Joe calls epikarst. It is extremely difficult to walk around unless you're on an established path. Trails here have been used for centuries, and they are paved with flat rocks, thereby creating a muddy, slippery surface in rain, but protecting the path from eroding away. We are on such a trail now, and about half an hour from the village, we reach our first desti nation: the I 26-meter deep SOla11o 65 I __________ ~.J


de Cepillo. This pit is much more spectacular than Golondrinas and consists of a 15meter diameter hole lined with overhanging vegetation. Joe rigs to a convenient tree, which happens to be covered with poison ivy. We get on rope while trying to avoid it, and three of us rappel down into the gorgeous drop, while Carl and Becky go off to nearby Cueva Santa Xol. This rope is a 9mm, and I soon discover the difference between 9and 11 mm. The hyperbar on my Microrack comes in handy further down in the pit. As a matter of fact, [ used my microrack for everything except Golondrinas, and depending on the rope thickness (we used 9or IOmm polyester) I had to use my hyperbar almost every time. At the bottom of Cepillo we discover a lake, large rimstone pools chock-full of cave pearls, and very large flowstone formations all along the walls. After we check out the bottom, Joe frogs out, then Errol and I tandem out. Twenty-two minutes later we're at the top, but there is something obviously Yvonne on one of the climbs in Oxtalja. wrong with my ropewalker, and I struggle Carl Heitmeyer photo. miserably trying to get off rope. I first atto eat out in one of the two restaurants in tribute it to being hampered by Errol's weight town. on rope below me. Day four. It's Monday, and we're eating In the process of thrashing about, I hug a shredded-meat omelet with tortillas on our the tree with my bare arms, forgetting all terrace, surrounded by piles of coffee beans. about the poiWe drink sonous leaves Nescafe, of all covering it. Fithings. Not a nally I'm off single cup of derope and discent coffee to be cover that the had in this world metal cord holdof coffee beans. ing my Bring your cbestplate pulgrinder and your ley had broken, filters if coffee is and the clip important to ~~~~ ~. cender had Today we're somehow congoing to nected itself to Oxtalja, located my waist. In Joe Ivy photo. about haifa mile other words my foot was stuck to my crotch, from town in a big dolina. We are carrying a and I couldn't move. I thought that was a series of ropes, and here is what the cave pretty good excuse for taking ten minutes has to offer, more than 200 meters of vertical to get off rope. extent: a 25-meter entrance slope done on By then Becky and Carl have come back, rope; a seven-meter rappel off of a water and we trade caves. Joe, Errol, and I follow spout in a small waterfall; several ten-meter our little guides and check out Santa Xol, climb-downs; then finally a IS-meter, overwhich has been used for religious ceremohung, very pretty rappel. At the bottom, we nies and is now completely trashed and not have an extra rope; somehow, we've missed worth mentioning further. We return to the 12-meter ropedrop-free-clirnbing it. Tamapatz with both of our urchins now Along the way, we see a snake, some proudly carrying heavy packs, then decide kind of python, as well as a very long rnilli66 MAY/JUNE 2000 pede, and we travel through large trunk passage filled with f1owstone formations. Eventually, we reach the sump at the end, whe the guys went swimming, trying to find a way through. The water is fairly warm in this area's caves, something like 70 degrees F, but it still takes your breath away when yon submerge yourself in it. Back up aI.1 tbe ropes we go. We pull them all out behind us and attacb them to everyone's packs. Eacb morning Joe and Becky sort through the huge pile of rope we've brought along to pick out the correct ones for the day's trip. We're at the end of day three and have ascended 520 meters of rope and hiked carrying them for kilometers in steep terrain. We are all holding out beautifully though, no complaints, and it feel! good to be here, doing wbat we love to do. Day five. We're off in the Suburban, driving over bumpy roads to the village of Paxalja, on tbe way to La Laja. We have to fmd Cueva Linda by using GPS coordinates. We park near a house, and Becky and I go and talk to the sby woman hiding inside to inquire about where the path might be. We get permission to cross her land to look for the cave. We hike around and find a myri of trails heading in every direction into co fee groves, but eventually we find the old rock-paved main path we were looking for. From there, we are able to locate the collapsed cave passage fairly easily. We follow the sunken canyon, until it disappears first under a natural bridge, then into a gaping hole in the side of the hill. Cueva Linda is J \ Carl under the natural bridge near Cueva Linda. Becky Jones photo. THe TEXAS CAVER


Yvonne with the first rope for Agua Amarga. The cave is down to the left. Joe Ivy photo. ) pretty impressive, with its banana trees and other vegetation lining the entrance, and 'lender roots hanging froin the ceiling and barring the way inside the cave, Huge flowstone formations and gorgeous rimstoue ___ pools decorate the cave, Collapsed chunks of the immense trunk passage cause us to have to climb over steep breakdown hills 20 meters high over and over again. We rig an eightmeter drop, then a bit later a 28-meter drop, whicb takes us to the middle of a large pit, which we traverse sideways and up slope again, in order to be able to reach a passage in the left wall, There we find an up-climb, and as usual when difficult climbs were encountered, we send Errol up to free limb it.Joe belays him, and eventually Enol makes it to the top and rigs a rope for the rest of us to climb up the seven-meter chimney, From there we are able to reach a large balcony overlooking a pit on one side, and a canyon on the other, Errol and Carl go on to explore the depths of the canyon by freeclimbing down 25 meters of exposed wall; they see that the canyon continues for at least another 150 meters, but they turn around and rejoin us, Beyond there, that intertwining, difficult passage is still virgin, which was noted when the cave was last entered and surveyed around 1974, Day six, Wednesday, We spend the day Near the town of Agua Amarga. [See Cueva de Carlos, this issue.] At the end of the day of ridge walking, a local man shows us Solano de Rancho deAguaAmarga, right next to the elementary school, and since we are pretty tired, we decide to leave it until the following day, Day seven, Thursday, Our last caving day", how sad, We drive back to Agua Amarga and park in the schoolyard, Before we're even out of the car, dozens of faces Cover the window panes, dozens of kids suddenly feel the urge to visit the outhouse, and the teachers give up and in to their own curiosity. The entire school stops functionTHE TeXAS CAVER 1 MAY/JUNE 2000 ing, The gringos are in town! We feel like a traveling exhibit of a foreign culture, We change clothes inside the car while the curious school kids shyly marvel at our pile of gear, We hike down the path, past the women doing laundry at a seep spring, then down to the edge of a very tall canyon, The floor of the canyon is accessible by hiking down into it, but we rig our extra IOO-meter rope to a tree so we can rappel instead, Why not? Becky raps down; then Joe and Carl go too, There is a man with us, who's been watching us for a while from a few meters away. He's carrying a machete, and he's been cleaning his fingernails with it while we were getting organized. When it's just Enol and me left at the top of the rope, he gets even closer, Now we're starting to be a bit more worried. I smile at him nicely and tell him in Spanish, "Now be careful with that machete, wedon't want any bad surprises"," He smiles broadly and assures us that there is no problem, Enol and I hope so. Especially Errol, since it turns out that I rappel before him, so he's the last one up there with the man-with-the-machete a meter away from the rope, Enol later reported that he gave the man a big endearing smile himself and said, "Adios" just before rappelling off into the void, half expecting to go freefalling any second, Of course, nothing bad happened, In any case, the rappel into that narrow, deep canyon is unforgettable. Sunlight filters through the jungle into it, creating an eerie atmosphere. The canyon has multiple walls, with side canyons joining in, as well as a natural bridge and a few skylights. The whole effect is breathtaking-one of the nicest rappels of my life, We tie the end of the rope to a rock at the bottom, just in case. Then we enter a narrow, low fissure and are suddenly underground, We rig the following sequence of pits: 26, 10, 4, and 67 meters with two redirects. Two of the drops needed new bolts, and Joe made short work ofthat with his manual drill and a lot of expertise. At the bottom of the big drop, Carl rigs a 15meter pit, and we all wait at the top for the result of his exploration. Carl disappears for long enough to worry us, so Joe rappels down through the sprinkling waterfall, and checks out the bottom. He finds Carl's pack in front of a bathtub almost filled with water, with a small airspace leading into who-knows-where. That's where Carl must be, who-knowswhere, so Joe climbs back up and reports. We wait a bit longer and, sure enough, eventually Carl comes back for more rope, Errol goes down and we get to hear his highpitched, disbelieving expressions like (saying it politely) "Are you kidding?" "You went through that?" "Are you crazy?" etc., then a few minutes later we hear the: various Yvonne begins the descent of the entrance of Agua Amarga. Joe Ivy photo. 67


THE TEXAS CAVER MAY/JUNE 2000 squealing sounds a body makes when hitlimbo again. getting covered in nasty rough debris. ting cold water, as well as a scream "I hate He's gone for a very longtime, and Enol Eventually, we hear Errol's triumphant you, Carl!" and we know Errol went for it. and I are not that keen on following. I'm call, "I see rope!" and we know we got toth ,i A bit later we hear banging and breakthinking about all the rope work above us level of some rope, but which one? It turns ing, then Errol's voice is heard again: "Come ([30 meters, not counting the J OOmeteren out that we had climbed up the last IS.meter on, Vonny, I've lowered the water level. trance canyon), and all [have is a frog. Errol pit almost to the top, but not quite, and Come on, hurry up." Well, since he went waits with me, and we are very cold and emerged just below the bottom of the big through all that trouble for me, why not, so shivering. I get my plastic bag out of my drop, Good enough. We jump on rope and I go down the rope, and it's my turn to tell helmet and put that on. Finally we hear Carl climb up to the platform above. Becky is them they are crazy to have gone through get back on rope and start ascending. He gone, and Joe is halfway up the 67'meter THAT ... but hey, the water is nothing like tells us of having found a couple of domes, drop. the snowmelt stuff we do in West Virginia, another 50 meters of passage, and some And so our little group works its way so why not take the plunge in this balmy 70leads in need of enlargement. Since he back up all the ropes, our load getting heavier degree water. I pass my pack through and couldn't fit, we're ready to head back toJoe each time. Becky and I are now up ahead, take the plunge. With the lower water level, and Becky, who had decided to skip the with the three bottom ropes, and we get out I get to keep my ears into the dark out of the water, lucky canyon. We deme. cide to hike out Carl is up ahead, instead of climb. fighting his way ing the 100. through a very tight, meter rope. By popcorn-lined pasdoing so, we sage. The going is have to negotivery tough. The coral ate a free climb grabs us everywhere, up a l O-merer and I have to take my slippery wall. We harness off. My help each other, polypro top also and I almost kill catches everywhere. us both when a The weeping blisters pile of rocks colon my forearms, from lapses as I'm the poison ivy on the climbing onto it. tree I hugged in I manage to Cepillo, get shredded catch myself, but even more. I cause a small Errol lends me one rock and log avaof his two elbow pads, Ianche, which and I try to use only luckily misses one arm. The passage Becky. I just continues this way for made the climb a long time, and for much harder, and Carl, it's the third time even Errol falls he's going through E I I off of it on his this, since he had to j rro rappe s m the spectacular, 89~meter entrance shaft of Agua Amarga Joe I h t . vy p 0 o. way up a bit come back to get more rope and some suckbathtub/coral tort e t h k ers to follow him. I'm amazed that he did all ur passage 0 c eci out later. Afterthat climb, it's just a steep hike to the canyons, dome rooms, and leads at the the top of the canyon, through a coffee this solo. Eventually, we climb down into a bottom of the 67.meterdrop. grove, and past two more deep pits. Becky pool at the edge of the big drop that forced We have to decide now if we should go d I h him to turn around. an ike back to the top of the long rope back the way we came or risk trying to find and de~rig it, deciding hiking would have Carl rigs the drop to a couple of 1 ittle the way back th k holes in the rock under the water, while Errol £ usrng e un nown high been much easier than ascending. The guys route. Carl opts for that, and Errol leads catch up as we finish, and we're all together goes off exploring a higher level, He comes the way At t ti f III ersec Ions, one O' us goes again, at the dark schoolhouse, happy with back to report that there are footsteps there, off into one direction, and another 1'11 tile OUf last adventure. so now we know that the popcorn crawl that opposite one, until we find the Correct Carl found is a nasty virgin bypass to the W Day eight. The long, l S-hour drive back one. e work our way up this way for t A f d h t "normal" route last traveled in 1969. Carl dis. b 0 us 111 an our regular lives ... but w a a out 15 meters vertical, and the going is fantastic memories we've created 1 appears down the 30-meter pit. At the botnot fun this way either. All is rotten: tom he takes off to explore, leaving us in footholds break unexpectedly, and we're 68


MA Y IJUNE 2000 heads to the south end of the dolina where a cliff is visible, Becky and Joe follow the trail the opposite direction. I try to stay in between Yvonne and Errol, when Yvonne calls out, "I've found a pit." She describes it as a meter square and at least three meters deep. But Yvonne doesn't feel any air blowing, so we keep looking. Errol's cliff face has not even a shelter cave. I begin to get discouraged. My finger bleeds a little (everything's spiny here), and my polypro is covered with hitchhiking seed pods. Disregarding the description of a canyon that leads to the entrance of Agua Amarga, I decide to walk towards the very center of the dolina where there appears to be a slight depression. I find a circular sink about 15 meters across and about two deep. The brush is very thick. A few meters away I think I see a short semicircular rock face. I get the feeling that hidden along the rock face in the shadows of these weeds is a cave. Wishing for a machete, I swing a 100-meter of rope to clear back the growth. The first shadow is just that. I back-track away and begin hacking at the brush in a new direction. This time as I approach rock wall, a small arch of darkness is visible. The entrance is surprisingly large for such a short cliff, oneby two-meters. I shout something to the others, as I frantically get ready to enter. I carefully squeeze past a few Mala Mujer plants trying not to touch the fur-like bark. Becky told me about these trees. Their bark is covered with thousands of hair-like needles that sting if you touch them. Safely inside the cave, I'm soon upright and walking over dried out formations and breakdown. The floor slopes downward for the first few meters to a four-meter flowstone drop. I dash back outside and grab a short rope. Now very excited, I hurriedly rig to a convenient Lost & Found: Cave Leads Near Agua Amarga Carl Heitmeyer Yvonne Drams, Errol Glidden, Carl Heitmeyer Joe Ivy, and Becky Jones It's about !0:00AM and we're off to Solano del Rancho de Agua Amarga. With its canyon-like entrance and multiple drops going more than 300 meters deep, we're all excited. We drive down from Tamapatz on a brand new road. It's not a dirt road, or even a crushed-rock road. It's more like the debris from blasting that was smoothed over the bedrock that was sticking up. But it sure beats hiking. This road leads us down into a dolina. A sinkhole is visible from the road; Joe says he doesn't think it's been checked yet, but we continue driving, up the other side. We switch back our way up to the top and look cross another very large dolina. There are two huge cave entrances visible on the far side, both big enough to drive a truck into. "I don't think they've been checked," says Joe, as we drive past. We park just north of a new school, prepare for a 12-hour vertical trip, and load up with 210 meters of rope. Across from the new high shoal is a beautiful cave entrance, a twoby fourmeter arch. Joe's not sure which cave this is, but it's not Sotano de Rancho Agua Amarga, and we walk by without even taking a picture. The Indians stare at us as we hike through the village and up the hill heading southwest. Almost at the top with the village center now well below us, we find a pit alongside the trail. I drop a rock and wait two-to-three seconds. If we have time on the way back, maybe we'll yo-yo this pit. The trail passes a small house with turkeys in the yard. Becky tries to ask for directions, but the woman is shy and hides from us. We continue past the house along a THE TEXAS CAVER rocky ridge but the trail turns too far to the south. Luckily, visibility is fair here. There is massive limestone and small, widespread trees with low brush in between. We can see into the dolina indicated in the description, and begin scouting different trails, looking for the way down. We double back and turn onto a smaller trail that goes in the southwest direction we Carl stands at the entrance of his new cave: Cueva Carlito. Becky Jones photo. want. Once in the valley, we decide to split up. Yvonne and I head west looking for a cliff face. The trail evaporates into overgrown cattle paths. Soon we are pushing straight through the brush towards the hill were we hope to find a cliff and a canyonentrance. I push a branch away from my face before noticing the thorns ... ouch. Errol 69


column. and I'm down before anyone else has entered the cave. The fourby five-meter passage slopes a little steeper than the entrance. After 30 meters of crab walking down the golden orange flowstone, I see a pit. The excitement builds as I realize I get to drop a rock again; 1 like this! Only two seconds go by before I hear the rock hit, but then I hear a bounce, and I smile. Then another bounce, and I let out a whoop! As I head back for more rope, r see someone at the flowstone drop and T shout, "More rope!" It's Yvonne at the top of the pitch and she passes me two ropes, before coming down herself. With thoughts of virgin cave I greedily snatch both ropes and head back down to the pit to begin rigging. I've only two spare carabiners, so like the first drop, I tie the rope directly to a pair of stalagmites. This is lots more fun than rigging to an obvious bolt or a rope-scarred tree in the Northeast! I attach the 20-meter rope to my harness for easy access and secretly hope that I'Il have to tie it to the 30-meter one in order to reach the bottom. As it turns out, the cave gods are smiling on me. The rope ends just a meter above a roomy ledge, and the pit continues down. I notice two convenient MAY/JUNE 2000 formations to rig the next rope to, and begin to tie the knots. The third drop, ten meters, brings me to a level floor with passage going low behind a column. The passage soon becomes a flowstone covered hands and knees crawl. It gently slopes downward into yet another pit! As 1 crawl back out T search for an anchor point in vain. Yvonne has now joined me while T rig the only rope I have left, 12 meters of 8mm accessory cord, into the rope above. This is just long enough to get me to a small ledge-like canyon passage that soon ends with a bathtub size pool of water and mud. This is definitely not Agua Amarga, but it is virgin cave, something not easily found in New Jersey! Yvonne and I pose for a picture near the bottom and then start back out, de-rigging as we go. Errol meets us at the entrance with the news that Joe and Becky have hiked into the next dolina. Thirty sweaty minutes later we are at the top of the ridge ... Not really, it's just this side of a saddle, explains Erro!. Down and up again before we get a view of an even larger dolina. 1 dread the thought of hiking down 400 meters into it. Just as we start down Joe shouts up for us to turn TSS Photo Caption Contest "What'z uuuuuuup!" Elizabeth Ross of the Permian Basin Speleological Society wins a $10 gift certificate from GGG for her caption. Unfortunately, this is the last edition of the Photo Caption Contest due to lack of interest. Thanks to all who participated! 70 around. Thanks, .Joe! No AguaAmarga here, although the farmer who lives in this dolin says there's a small cave ... We hike back for about an hour, Errol and I drop the pit next to the trail overlook_ ing AguaAmarga. Thirty meters, blind; the nearest farmer says it doesn't have a name. Soon we're hiking again. All day, we've been asking people for caves. We saw several and noted many more leads. Finally late in the afternoon, when we're nearly back where we parked, someone points us to Sotano de Rancho de Agua Amarga. (The locals have no name for it; it's just "the big cave by the schoo!.") The canyon description matches accurately. We just had to hike through three valleys to find which dclina it was in. We found five caves and hiked nearly ten kilometers (none of it flat). I hope tomorrow Agua Amarga proves to be worth a full day of hiking. Gonzo Guano Gear Serious caving requires serious gear ... we suppiy that gear. 11916 Bluebonnet Manchaca, Texas 78652 512-292-1878 on the web at W\ m THE TEXIlS DWEll


u_----------------------MAY/JUNE 2000 car, Lucille, and myself were the last out of the cave, Oscar de-rigging. Around 5PM, we were out of the cave. I opted to carry the rope and with the extra weight could only take three steps before resting on the initial steep scree slope up to the shelf. What I did in ten minutes when I was fresh now took 20! Vu was waiting for me at the top. The others had gone as quickly as possible, hoping to have sunlight for the dangerous ridge climb down. Vu and I blundered along and, after numerous misses, found the two cracks that made it possibJe to get over the cliffs to the ridge. Halfway down the ridge it was dark. I could barely stand up at this point, so Vu took the rope and we continued. Blundering into a crack off the ridge, we found Jessica waiting on the scree slope. We made it back to camp by 6:30. That night we had a boisterous party, drank quarts of Corona, Rornpope, and San Luis Rum? and told stories of scrapes and sore bodies. The next day, Sunday, we had to leave. Not far from Bustamante the bus started ticking badly. Charley (tile owner and mechanic) decided that it was either a loose rocker letting the valve rod hit the valve covers (easy to fix), or severe engine trouble (We should be prepared to get a lift back to the border and find a way home.). Lucky for us, Charley knew what he was doing! He took off the valve covers and, with help front Jessica and Linda, fixed it in 110 time. Fearing a two-hour wait at Laredo, we breezed back to Columbia. Hoping for a quick crossing, we were amazed when the customs officer told Charley to get in line for an X-ray of the bus, then locked him into a room with one chair until the vehicle was cleared. (The border patrol officer we spoke to said that they should have a new, faster system in operation when the toll road connecting to 1-35 is completed.) Great trip, wonderful company, and what a party! Thanks, Charley. James Lopez Palmito & Precipicio MelonieAlspaugh, Scott Chaffey, Robin Havens, James Lopez, Linda Palit, Charley Saavas, Jessica Snider, and Vu Dang, left for Mexico around 7:30PM in Charley's '53 Dodge PowerWagon bus. We made it to Bustamante around sunrise, joining Oscar and Lucille Berrones. Friday morning we mulled over the possibilities of going up to the cave Precipicio and decided, (thankfully!) to blow off the long ascent and have an easy tourist day instead. To explore The Grutas de Palmi to, a commercial cave, you have to go through the small town of Bustamante following the arrowed signs "Gruta." The city street melts into a dirt road, leading to an unusual concrete building where you pay a small peso fee. Go through the gate and up a gravel switchback road. It is a marvel you can drive to this cave! Down a short ail into the cave, there are concrete locks to step on. After a while, the cave gets huge. You can continue down a steep slope before the cave gets smaller and continues. On the way down, the road is so steep and narrow that the bus had to stop and back up, causing great unrest for everyone riding. On an especially tight turn, Lucille worked the gas while. Oscar manipulated the clutch and brake (Wheeeew i), causing most of the riders to bail. The next day we got ready to go up to Precipicio. You can almost see it from the public campground at the spring. Around 8:30AM, we started climbing up a scree slope for an hour to a steep rock ridge, then to a big high ledge below the summit. We made this around noon and traversed north to a small scree slope leading down the mountain. Sliding on our butts, we made it to a small ledge and the cave. Everyone had wanted to go light, so no one had camping gear. After resting a bit, we entered and went down a few slopes. We continued into the cave on a lower level; at a hole in the floor the passage goes down. Charley rigged a 200-foot rope to two bolts in the wall, backTIJETEXASCA\'ER ing up with a natural hole tie-off above the bolts. After rappelling the drop into a canyon with crystal balls (softball size) on the right wall, we followed the canyon both ways. In one direction, it led to another ledge, where we tied off a 100-foot rope, ignoring previous advice, which has proved unfounded, to stay in the center of the ledge. We did this short drop and climbed up a high slope of breakdown to the ceiling of Gruta del Palmito.Brian Vauter photo. the huge room. This is the entrance of another huge chamber filled with columns of various heights to the ceiling and weird columns that have flat tops like pedestals and tables. Charley went with me to the end of the cave. 11 eods with an arched room of flowstone. As we were climbing back up, Oscar came down, heading to the back. Charley hauled ass back to the rest of the women, and they all left the cave pretty quickly. Os71


MAY/JUNE 2000 Using the Internet to Find Caves Michael Moore Finding the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of cave owners has never been easier, thanks to the Internet. Tn the past, visits to county courthouses were needed to find property owners, requests made to state agencies for driver's license and vehicle registration information, trips taken to libraries to look through phone books, and maps purchased to plot cave locations. Today, so much information is available online for free that it takes only minutes to do research that used to take hours. REAL ESTATE SEARCHES Vacant lots, fields, and ranch land pose particular problems for cavers looking for cave owners. Two competing companies, TaxNetUSA and The Software Group, solve those problems with data from many Texas county appraisal districts and tax offices available for free searching. TaxNetUSA allows searches by county at After pulling down a menu listing county names and selecting a county of interest, you are given the choice to search for real property (land) or personal property (used in businesses, such as store fixtures and furniture) by account number, name, or address. TaxNetUSA has plat maps (showing lots in subdivisions) for downloading in TIFF format for some counties. Also offered is an advanced search (by property type, subdivision name, etc.) for a yearly fee. The Software Group's Texas County Data web site at www.txcountydata.coml selectcounty.asp allows county tax roll searches simi lar to those at TaxNetUSA, although with some different Texas counties, and no plat maps. Both web sites allow jnst a road name to be entered, with either a partial address or no address, so that all the landowners along a stretch of road can easily be found. As both web sites require the county to be known before a search can be done, a city to county conversion table is useful. TaxNetUSA provides this at IT a county is not available for free searching, going directly to a local taxing entity (such as a county tax office, school district 72 tax office, or city tax office) on the Internet may be possible. The Texas Association of Assessing Officers maintains a list of taxing districts with web pages at links.htm. Over the years, some cities, roads, and ranches have completely vanished, getting covered by lakes, demolished by natural disasters, moved because of roads or railroads, renamed, or sold. For Texas, an online registry of place names, organized by county, is available at, This resource can be invaluable if a cave you are trying to find is only known by the names of landmarks that no longer exist. Latitude/longitude coordinates are even given for most landmarks. ELECTRONlCPHONE BOOKS While tax rolls give owner names and mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses are not provided. So it is necessary to look these up at other web sites. Most Internet start pages (such as Yahoo!, Excite, MSN, etc.) have phone books, including both white pages (personal) and yellow pages (bnsiness). This makes it possible to find the phone number for a landowner by simply entering a name and city (or ZIP code) at any white pages search, such as Note that not all online phone books contain the most current data. Try a different web site if an old address or phone number is found. Some of the sites will convert formal names into nicknames, but others will not. For example, entering "Jim" as a first name at some sites produces matches for "James," but not at other sites. Online maps are even available as links from some phone directory searches. Also at many start pages are reverse phone directory searches. If a phone number appears on a caller lD box without a name, a reverse phone number search (available at most of the above sites) provides a name and address to go with the phone number. All of the sites listed above have e-mail searches. These are generally extremely unreliable, as people freguently change their e-mail addresses, particularly when moving or changing jobs. In most cases, a person's name is never linked to their e-mail address in any public directory. If it is known that someone has an account at a particular web site, it may be possible to use an e-mail search at that site. Otherwise they are unlikely to be found unless they have purposely registered so they can be found. GETTING PLACES -ON ROAD Giving other cavers directions to get to caves requires knowing street names, which is quite a problem in an unfamiliar area. The sites and Expedia provide exceptional custom online road maps. By typing in an address it is possible to generate a custom map showing an exact location on a street map. Zooming in or zooming out on the map changes the scale. It is even possible to annotate and save maps for use on web pages. To go with a map, custom travel directions can also be generated from these sites. By entering a starting point and a destina tion, detailed directions (down to tenths 0 miles) can be printed. Note that there are other websites that produce maps, but most are linked to MapQuest or Expedia to prodnce their maps. Some of the others not linked to these sites also have varied problems, from misnamed roads to not including some streets. GETTINGPLACES-OFFROAD Caves are often hidden away from roads, so once a parking spot is reached, a hike is involved. This is when TerraServer and TopoZone help by allowing the online viewing of custom topological maps: Microsoft's TerraServer can also display relief maps and aerial photographs of some parts of the world, including parts of Texas, with all of the United States to be covered by the end of 2001. Both sites allow a search for over two million place names, plus searches by latitude and longitude. Neither site has recent photorevisions, so paper topological maps are still useful for the most up-to-date information. TerraServer changes the scale of a map THE TEXAS CAVER


BOOK REVIEWS as it is clicked on, to allow zooming in and out, with buttons to change views from topo &ap to relief map to aerial photograph, of ~he same place. TopoZone recenters a map as it is clicked on, with buttons used to change scales. Both I: lOO,OOO and I :24,000 scale topological maps are available at both sites. This is not without a problem: when a 1: 100,000 scale map is more current, switching to a 1:24,000 scale view means newer features suddenly disappear without warning. Also note that these scales are not accurate on computer screens, due to different resolutions (dots per inch) on different monitors. TerraServer's relief maps and aerial photographs are at too low resolution to make them very useful for caving. But other Bill Mixon Lechuguilla, Jewel of the Underworld. Urs Widmer, ed. Speleoprojects, Basel, Switzerland; 1998.30 by 22 em, 164pp, hardbound. ISBN 3-908495-01-6. $56. Second edition, revised. Urs Widmer accepts the credit for the econd edition of this spectacular book, al, hough one has to read the fine print on the copyright page to see that. Michael Ray Taylor was listed as the editor of the first edition on the strength of having edited, sort of, the text. The second edition is 20 pages longer then the first. Some text has been updated, and chapters on biology and computer-generated maps have been added. The maps, generated by the Taporobot program, use its ability to draw and shade three-dimensional passages with more natural, curving shapes. This does make small-scale maps of large caves look more realistic; parts of Lechuguilla look like balls of snakes. But, as recognized in the text, the shapes are not really any more accurate in detail than passages bound by planes as plotted by older code, since the information recorded in the data files from the survey is really just as good as the old up-down-Ieft-right stuff. A disadvantage of the new scheme is that without the clues given by vertical slabs of passage walls meeting at planes where thestations are, there is really no visual sense of perspective in slanting views, the profiles don 't look any different from plans. The new edition has a conventional hard cover, embossed with a small cave scene on the front, and a dust jacket, rather than the first THE TEXAS CAV£f1 MAY/JUNE 2000 websites have aerial photographs, relief maps, and topological maps that can be downloaded and worked with at much higher resolutions. Custom CDROMs can also be created containing all sorts of maps and photographs. SUMMARY In addition to property tax data, phone books, and maps, other personal data from newspaper articles, magazines, and personal web pages can be found for free via popular Internet search engines; www.northerlight.corn, and Fast Search are three of the best search engines, particularly the "advanced" searches at these web sites. Still more information is available at low cost. One site,'s photographic hard cover. Given how easy it is to damage a dust jacket, I think I like the previous choice better. Aside from the added material, the content of the second edition is like the first, with the same spectacular photography beautifully printed. If you bought the first edition during the limited time it was in print, there is very little reason to want this new edition. But if you're a new caver or through some incredible lapse didn't get the first edition, then don't miss your chance this time. Lechuguilla, Jewel of the Underworld is the most beautiful cave book, about the most beautiful cave. Bats in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book. Don E. Wilson. Photography by Merlin D. Tuttle. Smithsonian Institution Press, WashingtonD. c.; 1997. 168 pp, illus., 17 by 25 em. Paperback ISBN 1-56098-739-1, $24.95. Hardcover ISBN 1-56098-3, $49.00. This nice book on bats in part of the Smithsonian's in Question series. The gimmick is that each section's title is a question. This leads to a lot of stupid questions like "Do bats sleep?" The numerous short sections also make the text rather choppy, and it is repetitious in a few places, such as two very similar discussions of bats and rabies. Nevertheless, Wilson covers the world of bats very well. The first half ofthe book answers questions about bats in geneludes driver's license information, criminal and civil case dispositions, voter's registration data, vehicle registrations, and other data, for a cost of just $25 per year for up to 250 searches. Just knowing the license plate number of a landowner's truck is enough to track down all the property owned in a county, by getting a name from a license plate search, then looking up property tax data. While that can be a scary thought when you are the landowner, all the data available online has been available offline for many years. Now it's just easier to access. ~ ,..~ era!. Then there is a chapter that surveys the families of bats, describing an example species of each. A final chapter covers issues of bats and man, although conservation problems are emphasized throughout. Finally, there are a table of all the species of bats, with scientific and common names, references for the various sections, and indexes. The text is introductory, but Wilson does not hesitate to define and use words like uroputagium when appropriate. Maybe a real bat expert would find a few quibbles, but Wilson, who has done a lot of bat research over the years, has written as authoritative a book as is likely to be found. 1. did notice a careless elaim that bats process their ultrasonic information in nanoseconds. Brains work in milliseconds, not nanoseconds. Bats in Question is well illustrated by many of Merlin Tuttle's superb color photographs of bats, about one per page. T suspect Tuttle wrote the photo captions, because they are full of statements favorable to bats that will be familiar to anyone who has seem a Bat Conservation International program of heard Tuttle speak. (He writes once more about how tasty and costly the bat-pollinated durian fruit is. Just once I'd like to see him also mention that it smells like something really rotten floating in an open sewer.) Close-up mug shots are printed with faces inverted, which is very helpful. 1 recommend Bats in Question to anyone wanting a good introduction to our furry friends. 73


MAY/JUNE 2000 Caves & Cave Leads in McCulloch County Jim Kennedy McCulloch County is immer------------------------, found on the back wall. diately west of the much better History; The cave was reported to be a known (cave-wise, at least) San BIG BRADY CAVE guano mine for possibly up to 50 years. Saba County. The county seat and It was photographed and explored by McCulloch County, Texas largest town is Brady. Despite Bob Hudson and Gordon Danz. Map by James Estes . d c th fairly extensive exposures of the 1961 Techniques: Equipment IS require lor e Ellenburger limestone and other 0 10 entrance. cavernous rock units, very few r.j6l feet caves have been documented. ~ This is likely due to a lack of looking. In order to stimulate more interest in a county with good potential for new caves, we provide this summary of all McCulloch County cave information found in the TSS files. Landowner names have been omitted (and have likely changed anyhow). Locations have also been removed from the descriptions, but they are available to any cavers willing to do serious work. This is but one example of the information available to cavers from the files of the TSS. ENTRANCES <. @] CLAMP CAVE (MCC3) Description: A nine-foot-diameter entrance leads into a widening 35-footdeep shaft. The cave has been filled. History; The cave was excavated by Mr. Frank Clamp, a treasure hunter who also removed considerable bone material from the cave. It has since been refilled. Paleontology: The top 21 feet of the fil was of uncemented breccia, followed by ,--,-------------':====::;--=::=-:-::::;:::=::::~~-------...I a 14-foot thick section of red clay that BIG BRADY CAVE (MCCi) contained the bone material. The following Description: The main entrance to this cave material was recovered from the cave: is a fourto fivefoot-diameter, slightly oval, 16-foot-deep sink. It drops into a passage about 45 feet long. To the south it passes beneath a 25-foot-deep, oneto two-foot in diameter entrance and continues on to an end. The cave is a fissure cave modified to some extent by more extensive solution than is typical of most fissure caves in this area. The slope of the cave is about 30 degrees, and it is classified as a Type B Crevice Cave. See map. History: The cave was explored and mapped by James Estes and other members of the Abilene Grotto in 1961. Technique: A handline is needed for the entrance. CAVES OF McCULLOCH COUNTY, TX List of Caves 1. Big Brady Cave 2. Brooks Ranch Bat Cave 3. Clamp Cave 4. Collapse Sink 5. Creekbed Cave 6. Goat Cave. 7. House Cave 8. Larry Bluff Cave 9. Oil Can Cave JO. Pickeye Cave l 1. Rattlesnake Cave 12. Roadside Funnel 13. Twin Coon Cave List of Rumored and Potential Caves 14r. Bad Air Cave I 5,.. Bat Caves 16r. Goat Caves 17r. John Tom Campbell Ranch Caves 18r. Kinney Kothmann Ranch Caves 19r. Voca Cave 74 -~== BROOKS RANCH BAT CAVE (MCC-2) Description: The cave is entered by a 40foot-deep unclimbable drop. This leads into a single chamber about 30 feet wide and 100 feet long with a ceiling height averaging seven feet. Biology: Although some guano was on the floor, no bats were seen. A raccoon was COLLAPSE SINK (MCC-4) Description: This is a 25-foot-deep, 45foot-long fissure cave. History; The cave was explored by James Estes and other members of the Abilene Grotto, probably in 1961. Class Mammal ia Order Lagomorpha Lepus sp. rabbit Sylvilagus sp. ~ rabbit Order Rodentia Erethizon dorsatum porcupine Order Carnivora Aenocyon dints dire wolf Canis latrans coyote Vulpes sp. fox Ursus americanus amplidens black bear Taxidea taxus badger Felis sp. cat Smilodon sp. sabre-toothed cat Order Perissodactyla Equus sp. horse Order Artiodactyla Platygonus sp. peccary Camefops sp. camel Tanupolama sp. camel Bison sp. bison CREEKBED CAVE (MCC-5) Alternate Name: Creekbottom Cave Description: This is a 50-foot-long fissure cave of unknown depth. THE TEXAS CAVER


History: The cave was discovered by James ,~stes and other members of the Abilene .,rotto, probably in 1961, GOAT CAVE (MCC-6) Description: This cave consists of two chambers about 10 feet high, 20 feet in diameter each, lying about IS feet below the surface. Biology: The cave contained a goat History: The cave was explored by Bob Hudson in the 1950s, HOUSE CAVE (MCC-7) Description: The entrance is a six-foot-deep, 40-foot-diameter sink, surrounded by brush and with several large trees (including a pecan) inside the sink. A talus slope extended down for more than 30 feet, with the walls not visible. Biology: Four javelina fan into the cave, preventing its exploration. History: The cave was visited by Bob Hudson and Gordon Danz in the 1950s. LARRY BLUFF CAVE (MCC-8) Description: The cave is reported to be a 00to 500-foot-Iong crawlway, but it was ot explored when visited. Several entrances on the side and top of a bluff lead into the cave. History: The cave was discovered by Bob Hudson in the 1950s. OILCAN CAVE (MCC-9) Description: An oval sinkhole entrance about five feet in diameter with an oil drum lodged in it drops into a solution chamber slightly enlarged at one end. The total length ENTRANCE .-._." oil drum lodged in part of entrance THe TEXAS CAVER MAY/JUNE 2000 of the cave is 35 feet; the total depth is 20 feet. See map, History: The cave was explored and mapped by James Estes and other members of the Abilene Grotto in 196 I, PICKEYE CAVE (MCC-lO) Description: There are four entrances to the cave, two natural and two snnken shafts that hit the cave. The largest natural entrance has a drop of 35 feet to a small landing; then two other drops lead down another 3S feet to another landing. From there in a vertical direction, the cave goes down another ten to IS feet to standing water several feet deep, A pump had been put in the water, keeping it out for treasure hunters to L ...J dig, The cave is on five levels, averaging IS to 20 feet between levels. All levels are connected with the crevice-like passages, but there are some moderate-sized rooms. As the cave areas have been weakened by dynamite and removal of much rock, a complete exploration has not been made. One of the man-made shafts is 120 feet in depth. This shaft touches cave at the bottom. I I 'I ? /ENTRANCE (1' diameter) o 10 OIL CAN CAVE McCulloch County, Texas Map by James Estes 1961 feet RATTLESNAKE CAVE McCulloch County, Texas Map by James Estes 1961 The total length is estimated to be about 200 feet. The cave is muddy and treacherous, made more so by the treasure seeking operations. Old rotten ladders and pipes and broken bottles litter the cave. History: The interesting history behind this small cave cannot be repeated in its entirety because oflack of information and evidence. A treasure map printed in an issue of a popular old west magazine prompted treasure seekers to begin hunting for the Lost San Saba Mine or Bowie Mine. The cave is located near Katemcy Creek, and a few miles south of the San Saba River, the waterways both printed on the old map. Around 1950, a woman from Brownwood and her husband (whose last name was Woods) started looking for the treasure in Pickeye Cave. After the first year of digging and moving dirt and rock from the cave, they sold their home and other worldly belongings to help finance major operations in the cave. Two other shafts were sunk rather than widening one of the natural entrances. Stovepipes and fans were installed in the cave to keep the cave free from intermittent bad air, and a huge water pump with threeinch hose was installed to keep the lower 75


MAY/JUNE 2000 continues a few feet to a constriction too narrow to enter. Total length is 65 feet, total depth is ten feet. See map. History: The cave was explored by. James Estes and other members of the Abilene Grotto, probably in 1961. ROADSIDE FUNNEL ~ McCulloch County, Texas Map by James Estes 1961 \ T I> PLAN ~ ......-/ J \.lo", --__ .... _,.;. ..:.:::==:'=> ENTRANCE ., o 10 feet part of the cave free from seepage. When finances were exhausted, the Woods sought aid from a Mexican source. When the owner refused to lease the property for such a seemingly useless purpose, the hunting operations were left as they were. Since 1953, several other interested parties have tried to find the supposed treasure, and have accomplished nothing but wrecking the cave. The last two men to do any digging had to leave on the owner's request, and the foreman of the ranch has had orders to allow no other treasure seekers to the cave. This was near the end of 1961. It has been learned that some relatives have tried to persuade the owner to seal the cave entrances with concrete. It was explored by James Estes and Tom Meador in the summer ofl962. Geology: The first several feet of the cave is in Ellenburger limestone (San Saba dolomite), but the rest of the cave is in dolomitic marbles, ranging in color from gray, green, to browns. RATfLESNAKECAVE(MCC-ll) Description: A one-foot-diameter entrance leads into a passage ten feet long to a tenfoot drop. It is possible to cross this pit and go about eight feet to a second eight-foot drop. A fourto five-foot-high lower level passage connects these two pits. Across the eight-foot pi t, a narrow passage 76 ROADSIDE FUNNEL (MCC-12) Descr lption: A small sinkhole formed in soil drops about five to eight feet to a slope leading down into a passage about 20 feet long. The total depth of the cave is about 15 feet. See map. History: The cave was explored and sketehmapped by James Estes, probably in 1961. TWIN COON CAVE (MCC-13) ,.----------~ Description: This is a 15-toot-deep, 35foot-long fissure cave. Htstory: The cave was explored by James Estes and other members of the Abilene Grotto, probably in 1961. CAVING, CLIMBING & \u;SCUE EQUIPMENT BAT CAVES (MCC-15r) 5715LeeJacksonHwy,Greenville, VA 24440 Description: Pb/Fax (540) 377-2690 Several good dry bat caves were http://www.caves.orglimo reported by Lela ';;. PROFILE BAD AIR CAVE (MCC-14r) Description: This fissure was unexplored because of bad air. History: The cave was investigated by James Estes and other members of the Abilene Grotto, probably in 1961. Donnell, according to the American Guano Company files. GOAT CAVES (MCC-16r) Description: Several cave openings near Goat Cave were either clogged with brush or rocks. History: These openings were located by Bob Hudson in the 1950s. JOHN TOM CAMPBELL RANCH CAVES (MCC-17r) Source: James Estes ~YKOTHMANNRANCHCAVES (MCC-ISr) Source: unknown VOCACAVE(MCC-19r) Description: This is reported to be a 50to 70foot-deep vertical sink. NEW STuFF FROM IMOI 3 New lIelmets.' Collapsible Botti,,! Petz/ "Tt'ClJ

MAY/JUNE 2000 Aaron Addison I'd like to start off this time by thanking the 161 cavers that attended the Spring 2000 TSA Convention making a great event for Texas Cavers, Of course there is an endless list offolks that need tn be thanked personally, but without the attendees, there is no event! In particular, the Greater Houston Grotto did a tremendous amount of work to pull-off Convention, Job well done' I talked with a lot of cavers about how they thought the TSA was doing. Answers ranged from "doing well" to "the TSA doesn't listen to what the average caver wants." So I ask every caver who can read .... What do you want out of the TSA? It's no secret that the TSA has had ups and downs over the years. Right now The Pillar things seem to indicate that we are in an up period. Will it stay up? Not without input and volunteer efforts from cavers across Texas. Some folks might say that there is no way to stop the cycle. Either you can rollover and believe them, or you can get involved and take pride in making the TSA a better organization. How can the TSA be better for you? for your grotto? for Texas Caving? for Texas Cavers? Write to myself or another TSA officer and let us know what you are thinking. On a tighter note, hot summers are a good time to set up a grotto trip to the TSS office for cave hunting research and volunteer work. The time to get your grotto more involved with the TSA is NOWI Continued from p. 59 be only an hour or SOl and she said she would take her time hiking back out so we would atch up to her on the trail. Deidre,.Marel, ~ nd Iquietly went on down the trail past the bat and entered the lower entrance area. We placed the new register and looked at some of the epoxy repair work that had been done on previous trips. We looked at one directional Broomstick Stalagmite that had been repaired and propped up with a stick. I carefully removed the stick, and it stayed in place. We worked our way down the trai I and pieced several other formations together on the floor, ready to epoxy on the next trip. We exited the cave at 3:30 and caught up with Magail about 45 minutes later on the trail, arriving at camp at 5:00. Sunday was even prettier than Saturday, not quite as cold, and there was no fog. We got up and around early because everybody wanted to try to get off the hill in time to see the Superbowl, Barry, Crit, and I were going to Hidden Cave, and Mike and Phyllis were going to Black Cave to monitor. Everybody else was going home, since it was a long ride. Only thing is somebody forgot to tell Deidre's truck. After trying to start it several times, the battery went down, and we tried eta jump start it. Then, with a big puff of die"sel smoke, the Suburban gave up the ghost! Now we were faced with a dilemma: go caving or push the beast off the mountain. After Diedre got ahold of a wrecker that would come up the hill, we opted for caving. We were about ready to go when T realized I hadn't seen Barry or Crit. I went over and shook Barry's tent after I heard a snore coming from it. I then tapped on Crit's pickup, and soon they were up and around, and we were on our way. We left camp about IO:30AM, and by 11 :00 we had the drop rigged. Barry went first and found I had tied too big a knot in the end, which kept it from reaching the bottom. Crit went next, and by all the oohs coming from below I could tell she was at the bottom. I went down and placed the forms I had brought in the register, We made a quick trip but saw the whole cave, took a few photos, and started out. We were back at camp at I :30PM,just as the tow truck got there to pick up Diedre's truck. Barry and Critjurnped out and made a mad dash to get down the hill in front ofthe tow truck. I had put my camper down before we went so it wouldn't take long to get ready to go. I didn't want to follow them down, so I left too. Thank you all for your hard work and time. I look forward to working with you again in the near future. JOYS OF DISCOVERY DROP BY DROP AFTERLABOROUSHOURSOF DIGGING A SMALL HOLE APPEARS AS THE HOLE OPENS THE BEATING OF THE HEART INCREASES YOU SQUEEZE THROUGH GASPING FOR BREATH TO ENTER INTO A LOST DOMAIN OF UNSEEN BEAUTY DROP BY DROP BY DROP HOUR BY HOUR YEAR BY YEAR STEADY THE DROP NEVER DIMINISHING NEVER INCREASING ALWAYS ENHANCING THE BEAUTY IN HAND DROP BY DROP BY DROP -Jerry Fant 77


MAY/JUNE 2000 moved to Austin, where Joe & I run Gonzo Guano Gear. I cave regularly in northern Mexico and I'm developing an appreciation of west Texas caves too. I'm a TSS associate, an NCRC instructor, and the D C W P caving coach. This summer, I'm helping edit the revision of the AMCS Caves ofthe InterAmerican Highway and surveying bunches of TCMAICity of Austin preserve caves. Later this year, Joe & I plan to turn the curriculum for our Small Party Self Rescue course into a book. TSA Publications Committee The TSAActivities News Letter <> Curtis B. Vaughn I started caving almost ten years ago at Texas A&M at Galveston. I'd been an admittedly mediocre rock climber for some time, and the lure of getting on-rope underground was too much to pass up. After some trips with the Sea-Aggies to Texas caves like Powells, Honey Creek, and Colorado Bend, I was off to Villas and central Mexico with the Galveston Grotto folks. I'm often abused for not remembering the name of a si ngle cave from my early Mexico trips, but.. so much caving, so little time for notes. I can't even remember how many times I've been to Bustamante. But I've never been to Palmito, I always get talked into taking people to Precipicio. After graduation there were several years of being a quasi member of the UT Grotto (commuting from Houston) and caving just for fun. Last year, I finally had the chance to move to Austin, a little closer to the caves. Of course this also meant that I'd lost my excuse for not participating in the caving community on a more productive level. Recently, I've been helping Russ clean up the survey of the ever-growing Gorman Creek Crevice, finding caves by the dozens in San Saba County, and planning a caving trip to Big Bend. Oh yeah, I'm also the editor of the ANL. I figure that I'll always know what trips are coming up. YOU GOT A TRIP PLANNED? Russ Johnson I joined the UT Grotto someti me around 1995, driven by my interest in geology. I cannot remember which cave was my first, but I do remember Blowing Sink (yes, r was trespassing) and Palmito as the ones that hooked me. ] was primarily a sport caver. Since then, by the example of many cavers in the UT Grotto, I have learned what to do and what not to do (like trespassing). My caving interests have evolved too. r am 78 surveying at CBSP, scouting for new caves in San Saba County, and planning cave exploration in Big Bend NP. Many have been calling for greater participation from the next generation of cavers. Knowing that it was my turn to step up, I started to help publish the TSA Activities Newsletter earlier this year. As I write this, I have just completed a karst hydrogeology field course. My interest in caving has led me back to geology ... it seems I have come full circle. The Texas Caver Joe Ivy I started caving in 1982 in San Antonio after an unexpected trip to Robber Baron Cave. Since then, I have caved in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Guatemala, Kentucky, Mexico, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, TAG, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia, though most of my caving is in Texas and Mexico. Besides the time spent underground, I have served as ViceChairman and Chairman of the Texas Speleological Association, become a Level III Instructor for the National Cave Rescue Commission, and worked as the Texas Region Coordinator of the NCRC. More recently, I became Co-Editor of The Texas Caver. Rebecca Jones T began caving in 1992, starting in upstate New York and eastern Pennsylvania, then working my way into West Virginia and TAG. I quit my real job in 1995 to cave in Ukraine and Ireland. A year later, following in the footsteps of so many great cave bums, I The TSA Web Page Annmarie C. Mikelski was born in PA, but has since lived in numerous states, with he career in the NationaJ Park Service sin 1983. She has been a resident of Del Rio since April 1998. Annmarie started caving in the Guads in 1992 while temporarily stationed at Carlsbad Caverns National Park; she was employed fulltime at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument (New Mexico) at the time. Annmarie is now stationed at Amistad National Recreation Area, Del Rio, as a park naturalist, still loves caving, and is a member ofNSS, TSA, and PBSS. Greg E. Sedbrook was born in Elk City, OK and moved to Del Rio with his family at age ten. Greg is employed as a lieutenant with the Del Rio Fire & Rescue Department. He has been with the Department for 16 years, and is also President of the Del Rio Professional Fire Fighters Union. Gre started his caving career when he was a young boy, exploring many wild caves in the Del Rio area with his older brother Darryl. Greg is a member ofNSS, TSA, and PBSS. THE TEXAS CAVT;R


MAY/JUNE 2000 utch Fralia Tn the TSS electronic database, there are 4711 records of Texas caves and karst features. Only 2213 have complete location data consisting of the USGS Quadrangle map where the cave occurs and UTM coordinates. Of the remaining records, 933 have USGS Quadrangle data without location, and 1580 are missing the quad. For 1580 caves or karst features, even an approximate "where" is a mystery. The TSS asks that Texas cavers help find the lost caves. Below are lists of the Lost Caves of Pecos and Bell Counties. Location data can consist of a marked up topographic map, GPS data or whatever help you can provide. If you have other data on the cave or karst feature, we'll take that also. For instance, the caves listed could be duplicates of other records. Any and all information is appreciated. Why is this information important? Considering the nature of cavers, they gain access in a particular area and explore there for a while. Boredom sets in, or access is lost. In 20 years or so, cavers return to an area and don't know if they've discovered a new cave or rediscovered a known cave. By maintaining the database, that information will be known! If you have information about any of these caves, please contact: Butch Fralia 3412 Walton Ave., Ft. Worth, TX 76] 33-2230, of PECOS COUNTY BELL COUNTY BELL COUNTY CONTINUED Baird's Crack 41-39C6-3 Cave Shelter 41-BL-48 Baird's Milllion Spider Cave Coon Pit Shelter41-BL-50 Cave Mesa Cave Hunkas Hole Shelter41-BL-54 Chandler Guest Ranch Cave Kell Branch Shelter Solana Ranch Cave no.l Ess Cave Kuykendall Cave South Salado Cave Indian Mesa Rock Shelter Kuykendall Sinkhole South Salado Cave no.2 Lichnovskys Cave Miller Spring Cave no.2 South Salado Cave no.3 Lion's Den Cave Morgan Point Cave Stagecoach Tnn Cave Opals Cave Nolan Creek Cave StubblefielfCave Unnamed pit (Pecos) Post Oak Cave Unnamed Cave (Bell) Unnamed Shelter (Pecos) Shelter 41-3907-5 Willison Site Wilson Ranch Cave Shelter41-BL-42 Zen Cave Home Phone Work Phone THE TEXAS SPELEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION & The Texas Caver Regular Membership $27 The Texas Caver The TSA Activities Newsletter Name Street Family Membership: $35 Two Votes One Set of Publications City. SIOle, Zip TSA P. O. Box 8026 Austin, TX 78713 E-Mail Grouo/Affilliatlon All cavers are invited to submit articles, trip reports, pictures, maps, cartoons, poetry, events, elc. Material should be cave-related and pertinent to the Texas caving community The Texas Caver is published bi-monthly. The deadline for submissions is the last day of even-numbered months. The editors will confirm receipt of material, review submissions, and return comments as necessary before publication. Slides, negatives, photos, art, and maps will be scanned as quickly as possible and then returned promptly. All writlen material should be submitted digitally in Rich Text Format, on 3.5-inch floppies or ZIP disks, or attached to e-mail. Graphics should be submitled as .tif files. Photos should be scanned at 4x6 inches, 266 dpi; line art at 600 dpi. All material should be identified with author's name, title, and date. Visual materials should be clearly matched to captions. For further information on submission or style guidelines, please contact the editors; Joe Ivy & Rebecca Jones 11916 Bluebonnet, Manchaca, TX 78652 512-292-1878 TJ.m TEXAS CAVleR 79

Contents: Editorial:
One Big, Happy Family? --
Top 10 Reasons to Cave in Texas --
About the TSS --
Trip Reports: Beck Ranch Cave, District Park Cave Water
Cave, High Guads Restoration, Xilitla 2000, Tamapatz, Agua
Amarga, Palmito & Precipicio --
TSS Photo Archives Caption Contest --
Using the Internet to Find Caves --
Book Reviews: Bats in Question, Lechuguil/a, Jewel of the
Underground --
Caves & Cave Leads in McCulloch County --
The Pillar --
TSA Publications Committee --
Lost Caves of Texas: Pecos & Bell Counties.


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