I N T E R C O M Volume 53, Issue 1 January February 2017 Iowa Grotto P.O. Box 228 Iowa City, IA 52244 Grotto Website: www.caves.org/grotto/iowa Coldwater Cave Project website: http://www.caves.org/project/ coldwater Membership Dues : due January 1, $15.00 per year, includes INTERCOM and Hotline subscriptions. INTERCOM subscriptions only are $13.00 per year. The Iowa Grotto reserves the right to decline membership during or after a probationary period. Due Dates : for submission of material for publication in the next INTERCOM is May 1st. Send material for publication, e mail, disk or hard copy to: Editor and Typist: Scott Dankof 515 986 3219 410 SW Hickory Circle Grimes IA. 50111 E mail firstname.lastname@example.org Coordinate photographs for publication in the INTERCOM with Scott Dankof, the INTERCOM editor. Cave Rescue : Contact the Kentucky Disaster and Emergency Services Central Dispatch at 502 564 7815 for cave emergencies only in the NCRC Central Region of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Iowa Grotto Meetings : are the fourth Wednesday of each month, third Wednesday in December at 7:30 p.m. in Room 125 or thereabouts of Trowbridge Hall on the campus of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Cover Photo: Upstream bacon formation in Coldwater Cave, Iowa. Photo by Jordan Kjome. National Speleological Society P. O. Box 228 Iowa City, Iowa 52244 Chairman Ed Klausner Vice Chairman/Treasurer John Donahue Secretary Elizabeth Miller Volume 53 Issue 1 ______________C O N T E N T S _____________ Meeting Minutes 4 Trip reports: Sodalis Nature Preserve 4 Ridgewalking & New caves 6 Diamond Caverns 7 Historical Ent. of Mammoth Cave 7 Williams Mountain Cave 8 Sextus Mille Cave 9 Buffington Cave 9 Alley Spring Cave 10 Three Cave Vicinity 11 Ford Bluffs Caves 13 Barn Hollow Caves 14 Branson Cave 16 Powder Mill Creek Cave 17 Round Spring Cavern 18 Away From Ice Storms 19 Three Forks Cave 21 23 Photo Gallery 24 3
__________CALENDAR___________ March Grotto Meeting March 22nd Room 125, 7:30 pm, Trowbridge Hall. April Grotto Meeting April 26th Room 125, 7:30 pm, Trowbridge Hall. May Grotto Meeting May 24th Room 125, 7:30 pm, Trowbridge Hall. June Grotto Meeting June 28th Room 125, 7:30 pm, Trowbridge Hall. Annual Grotto Picnic The grotto picnic will be the first weekend in August with caving on August 5th. There will be a flyer once plans are finalized and it will have directions to the camping area and more information on the caves. No January minutes submitted Minutes of the Iowa Grotto Regular Meeting February 22, 2017 The regular meeting was called to order by Chairman Ed Klausner at 7:43 PM. Seven members and one guest were present. Prior to the meeting, Ed Klausner gave a presentation on a bat count in Sodalis Cave in Hannibal, MO. The minutes of the January meeting were read and approved. There was no Trip reports: Mike Bounk, Deb Souda and Ray and Stone Whitter counted bats in Spook Cave. They found only 8 bats, including one Tricolor. Four years ago they had counted 400 bats. Phil Larue and guest Patty reported finding 13 tricolor, two little brown and 17 big brown bats at a recent Miller reported on a Cave Research area of Mammoth Cave with Ed Klausner in February. Mark Jones was also at Mammoth Cave and explored a small cave in the National Park. Future Trips: Trips to Coldwater Cave are scheduled for the third Saturday of each month. Survey trips to Mystery Cave in Minnesota will be scheduled with Bob Storlie from the park. Caving out of the area includes MVOR in early April, Speleofest at the Memorial Day weekend, the NSS convention at Rio Rancho, New Mexico in June and the National Cave and Karst Management Symposium in Eureka Springs, AR October 16 20. Old business: Camping areas were discussed that could be used at the August Grotto picnic. New Business: Elizabeth discussed bat inventory work with Kelley Poole of the Iowa DNR. Kelley mentioned a proposed meeting sometime this spring of bat researchers in Iowa. Elizabeth sent a message to Dr. Zuercher at the University of Dubuque expressing the vided information on a National Fossil Show and Sale from March 31 April 2. The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 PM. Sodalis Nature Preserve Bat Count Lime Kiln Mine, Hannibal Missouri By Ed Klausner Lime Kiln Mine in Hannibal Missouri was in private hands until it was acquired with federal conservation money recently. It is now administered by the City of Hannibal. The land around the old limestone mine has been named Sodalis Nature Preserve and there are nice hiking trails in the preserve. The mine is a winter hibernacula for about 150,000 Indiana Bats and there is a summer maternity colony of Gray Bats, both federally endangered species. Sodalis is the species name of Indiana Bats. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation do a winter census every two years with the help of the Cave Research Foundation who mapped the mine. This year, there were eight regions of the mine that were checked. There are 19 miles of survey in the mine, but many areas contain no bats and these were not checked. Each team was led by a caver and consisted of people from USFWS, MDC, Illinois DNR, some university researchers and some 4
environmental consultants. Teams counted the bats in small clusters and photographed larger clusters for analysis later. In addition, I led a second team that was experimenting with LIDAR for use in bat monitoring. We counted bats in an area and then left the LIDAR team to do their work while continuing on with our census. Each team was limited to 4 hours. Some teams many bats in their area. Other teams them. The team I led covered only 1/3 or so of the area as there were thousands of bats to count and photograph. The mine is cold in the winter. I wore multiple layers and we were fortunate that the Tyvek suits that we had to wear where good at stopping 5 the wind blowing through the mine which has 33 entrances (all gated.) It was a cold day with 14 degree temperatures and ice on the roads. Teams that worked near entrances got pretty cold. Elizabeth and I had been to the mine on multiple occasions as we were part of the survey effort. Despite that, the mine is still very confusing and very easy to get lost. It is far less daunting with a map. All the limestone pillars look alike, but we were requested to mark each survey station with spray paint. That was hard to do as cavers want to do the least amount of damage to a cave as possible, but this is a mine, not a cave. With maps in hand, negotiating through this mine is not difficult (for a caver or someone very comfortable reading maps.) Formations in Lime Kiln Mine, Missouri. Photo by Ed Klausner.
6 Photographing bats to count them in Lime Kiln Mine. Photo by Ed Klausner. Ridgewalking & New Caves Edmonson County, Kentucky January 1, 2017 By Mark Jones The first day of 2017 and the second day at the Cave Research Foundation Mammoth Cave National Park had Karen Willmes, Mandy Harris and me teaming up to find, survey and monitor some of the small caves in the park. Bill Copeland who is in charge of the Small Caves Survey had provided GPS locations, topo maps, pictures and descriptions of a string of newly documented caves. Although I had a simply grabbed the topo with the various caves identified and set off. Three of these caves were semi vertical so we carried a short rope and a length of webbing to assist in the climb. Referring to several landmarks we parked and set off to survey these small caves. It should be noted that cant. the park that extend nearly five Mammoth Cave. I was confident in our ability to find these entrances but after an hour of wandering around a ridgeline I began to have my doubts. Eventually Mandy pointed out two enormous sinkholes where we expected to find our caves. A sweep of the first one gave us nothing but along the rim of the second I discovered a rock pile hiding a breakdown entrance. Mandy and I set about surveying it while Karen would continued to roam the sinkhole in search of Poynter Cave. For this little cave Mandy set stations and read backsights while I read foresights, kept book and snapped photos. A sixteen foot wide by four foot high breakdown entrance quickly funnels down to a solid rock wall with a bit of a breakdown crawl to the right. A total of four shots cave fauna noted were two orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ). As we wrapped up this survey Karen returned with news of a possible cave and a definite cave. The potential cave turned out to be a breakdown entrance similar to the one we just surveyed but with less than eight feet under the dripline. Karen then led us to the definite cave and were we surprised! vertical entrance, it was a pit! We steady warm breeze wafting out the entrance. Needless to say our short this drop. I took several photos of the entrance before Mandy asked if my camera was equipped with a GPS feature. side the caves. Adjusting the camera settings on my Olympus TG4 I was able to not only get a picture of the entrance but also its GPS location. Satisfied with our work we staggered ourselves along the ridge and scoured
7 the hillside for another hour. Numerous shallow sinkholes were noted but none were humanly enterable. I did find one more possible breakdown cave but Karen quickly nixed it by taking a peek under the dripline. A GPS photo of this karst feature was taken for the cave files. We returned to the truck around 4:00 p.m. just as the rain began falling. Back at Hamilton Valley Dave West converted my camera GPS location to the NAD83 used by the park and determined that we had two new caves! Since both Mandy and I dislodged small rocks during our survey we christened the first cave Rockfall Cave, the first newly surveyed cave of 2017 within Mammoth Cave National Park. goes to show that a bit of buffoonery sometimes pays off. Maybe next time the caves but that may not be as exciting. Diamond Caverns Edmonson County, Kentucky January 3, 2017 By Mark Jones to Mammoth Cave I have never visited nearby Diamond Caverns so with some time on my hands I drove over to take a tour. The 11:00 a.m. tour had seventeen people plus Kaitlyn our guide. From the gift shop we descended a set of stairs to the original shaft entrance discovered on July 14, 1859. The first visitor thought sparkling calcite formations resembled diamonds and the name for the cave was born. Following a month of activity the show cave was opened to the Kennedy Bridal Party on August 19, 1849 and has been in continual operations ever since. The Diamond Caverns website diamondcaverns.com has the complete story under the At the bottom of a steep concrete staircase is the Rotunda room filled with a plethora of flowstone formations some wet and active, some dry and dead. The stalactite portion of a substantial column hangs down from the ceiling while the flowstone mound base is lying on its side. Fifty feet down the walkway is a ceiling ledge etched with names of visitors from long ago. Some graffiti etching was found elsewhere but I was surDropping down another flight of stairs we were in the midst of a forest of dripping draperies for a hundred feet. At a passage split we stayed left and climbed up to the Wedding Chapel, the site of several marriages until the Further on we passed the Sand Tunnel which connects to a lower river passage on our way to the Stairway to Nowhere. At one time there were plans to blast open a backdoor to expedite tours but it was eventually abandoned with the stairway abruptly stopping at a wall. We retraced our steps back to the entrance with a stop in the Back in the lodge I was impressed with the extensive show cave memorabilia on display. There were road signs lining the walls and several cabinets dedicated to various commercial caves including nearby Mammoth Cave, Luray Caverns in Virginia, Cave of the Winds in Colorado and Mark Twain Cave in Missouri. North of the gift shop construction is ongoing for the future National Cave Museum. Historical Entrance of Mammoth Cave Edmonson County, Kentucky January 3, 2017 By Mark Jones The Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) through a joint venture agreement with Mammoth Cave National Park was contracted to conduct a laser scan of the passage from the Giwell as the Snowball Dining Room area. The reason for this survey was to have a precise picture of these areas for preservation purposes. Aaron Addison and Bob Osburn were conducting the study so I tagged
8 along with Josh Thomson at 4:00 p.m. down the Historic Entrance. This entrance has been closed since Labor Day for a major overhaul of the trail out to the Methodist Church. The HDPE plastic lumber boardwalk was ripped out and was being replaced with concrete pavers. The work appears to be progressing well and should be right on schedule to reopen for tours around Memorial Day. Past the Methodist Church it was an easy hike down Main Cave to the T.B. Huts. The story of this chapter of Mammoth Cave history, while rather ghoulish, is important in its impact. In September of 1842 Dr. Croghan, a physician and owner of Mammoth Cave planned to treat tuberculosis by housing his patients in wooden structures within the cave. In addition two stone structures were erected which are assumed to be his office and a kitchen. Unfortunately the entire study ended in tragedy in January 1843 with three patients dying in the cave while those remaining were worse for the wear. An ironic footnote is that Dr. Croghan succumbed to tuberculosis in 1849. In the 1860 Guide Manuel for Mammoth Cave one of the guides was quoted that while the cave was a disaster for t.b. treatment excitement of the brain, and incipient insanity, would undoubtedly be benefited by a I cave. Aaron set up the LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) tripod past the second stone hut as the rest of us placed six inch diameter target spheres around the passage. A distance of forty feet from the targets for the LiDAR gave the best quality for this survey. Around the stone huts additional scans were taken to thoroughly inventory these structures. Hopefully this survey will help answer the questions about the long gone wooden huts. Since LiDAR scans are line of sight the positioning of the tripod and targets was important to get the necessary data. And what a bunch of data! The two dozen scans over five hundred feet resulted in 1.3 billion data points! Aaron will return to the lab for the post processing of all this information. A total of six hours were spent on this project, not the most exciting or challenging but certainly important. Snowball Dining Room will be addressed tomorrow. Williams Mountain Cave Ozark National Scenic Riverways Shannon County, Missouri January 13, 2017 By Mark Jones With ice storms predicted for much of Missouri the first day of the Ozark Operations Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) January expedition was very much in flux until mid day. Several cavers from the St. Louis area were unable to travel due to slippery conditions so while Ken Grush and Scott House entered data into the cave files Ed Klausner and I ventured out into spitting rain. With unstable weather we opted to stick close to the Powder Mill Research Center in case the roads became icy. Nearby Williams Mountain Cave needed to be monitored so we packed up the truck with the appropriate gear and set off. It was an easy fifteen minute hike down the ridgetop along an abandoned road before we dropped over the north side of the hill a short distance to the sloping cave entrance. The GPS unit was about a hundred feet off of the actual entrance so we decided to reset the waypoint. As I set the unit down for an accurate reading a herd of feral hogs came racing out of the cave! I was so stunned that I just stood there but Ed had the presence of mind to count them. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven . . . . and then a baby pig. Eight pigs! But gained my senses I peeked into the cave and found another five baby pigs! The unmistakable odor of hog manure indicated that these thirteen been using the cave for quite some
9 time. We photographed these rambunctious pigs from a distance but wisely chose to avoid entering the cave. Knowing that the sows would be returning to protect their litters we cautiously hiked back to the truck. Scott had us contact the appropriate park personnel and report our encounter so that tainly a strong possibility that this cave may not be monitored this season. Sextus Mille Cave Ozark National Scenic Riverways Shannon County, Missouri January 13, 2017 By Mark Jones Following our surprise meeting with feral hogs at Williams Mountain Cave Ed and I regrouped and took aim at Sextus Mille Cave. This cave name arises from the fact that it was the 6,000 th Missouri cave inventoried. A respectable hike up an inactive streambed eventually brought us to a stoopwalk entrance in a rock outcropping. Being a bit gun shy we warily crawled twenty feet in a dusty foyer before the floor sloped down to a surprisingly comfortable room. noticed a Western slimy salamander ( Plethodon albagula or glutinosus ) in the crawl and then some camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) on the wall before Ed spotted a four foot black rat snake ( Pantherophis obsoleta ) perched on a ledge inside the room. Several photos were taken of this cave visitor as well as its temperature using an I/R remote temperature sensor. (It registered 10Â° C.) During our trip the snake did raise its head and flicked its tongue. We continued around the edge in search disappointed when we saw a cluster of five little brown bats ( Myotis lucifugus ) (12Â° C) and two pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ) plus quite a bit of Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) scat. None of the bats exhibited signs of white nose syndrome (W.N.S.) ( Pseudogymnoascus destructans ). In spite of having only one room the cave was well decorated with speleothems of all sorts soda straws, stalactites, stalagmites, cave pearls, rimstone dams and assorted flowstone formations. It was a very nice cave to start our week in the area. Buffington Cave Ozark National Scenic Riverways Shannon County, Missouri January 14, 2017 By Mark Jones In spite of the continuing rainy weather the January expedition of the Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) Ozark Operations carried on monitoring caves in the area. Ken Grush had plenty of data to enter into the cave files so we had four hearty cavers (Scott House, Ed Klausner, Dennis Novicky and myself) pile into the truck heading to caves along the Jacks Fork in the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways. Our first stop would be cave that was once utilized for a Scott planned on hiking a short disup to the rest of us to climb up to do the monitoring. A trail strewn with rusting household debris took us straight up to the reverse slope of the entrance that gradually dropped back down into the cave. Once under the dripline we were in a dusty, dry, ten foot high passage with a smattering of trickling water. At one time the room was decorated with spectacular formations but time and human activity has all but destroyed the oldest features. Either the speleothems were desiccated or had been broken. Near the entrance the remains of wooden shelves lined the walls. Fifty feet inside the passage a cluster of six foot stalagmites dominated the room. Off to the right was an interesting formation table that resulted from a ceiling collapse. Fluted drapery and stalactites covered the ceil-
10 ing but most were busted over the years. The cave terminated when the ceiling sharply angled down to meet the floor. Cave fauna observed included a lone pipistrelle or tri colored bat ( Perimyotis subflavus ), a few camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) and some flies ( Diptera sp.). In addition we found extensive Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) evidence in fresh middens and scat as well as an eastern phoebe ( Sayornis phoebe ) nest. Sunset Cave Down the road from Buffington Cave Scott dropped Ed, Dennis and me off to monitor two caves located in a rocky slope. The first was Sunset Cave, a cave with an impressive forty foot wide by twenty foot high mouth that tapered down to a four foot stoopwalk before ballooning out to a sixty foot wide room. A shallow, thirty foot diameter pool was the most interesting feature of this room. Dennis poked into a breakdown This cave had significant cave life with three pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ), ( Eurycea sp.), some camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) and numerous flies ( Diptera sp.). In addition we found extensive raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) tracks and scat and signs of Eastern woodrats ( Neotoma floridana ). Pinnacle Bluff Cave Just sixty feet around the corner from Sunset Cave we found Pinnacle Bluff Cave. A twenty foot diameter entrance quickly funneled down to a rocky, pancake bellycrawl that pinched out. The only fauna seen was a slug ( Megapallifera sp.) and a few flies ( Diptera sp.). Alley Spring Cave Ozark National Scenic Riverways Shannon County, Missouri January 14, 2017 By Mark Jones Parking at Alley Mill we (Scott House, Ed Klausner, Dennis Novicky and me) hiked around the mill to the Alley Spring Trail to begin monitoring the plethora of small caves along its length. Actually the first cave we passed was the not so small Alley Spring, a 3,000 foot cave that requires scuba gear. Pumping out 81 million gallons of water a day this is certainly an impressive spring. The abundance of fresh water has drawn humans to the area for centuries. Settlers in 1868 built a grist mill which was updated in 1894 to a turbine powered steel roller mill. Eventually a small community was built around the spring and the mill. In 1924 Alley Mill became one of the first Missouri state parks and was given to the National Park Service in 1964 and designated as part of Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Alley Spring Crawl Down the Alley Spring Trail was Alley Spring Crawl, the first small cave below Alley Mill. This three foot diameter tube pinched down in twenty feet. Cave fauna included a few flies ( Diptera sp.). Alley Spring Shelter Not a hundred feet down the Alley Spring Trail from Alley Spring Crawl we bumped into Alley Spring Shelter. At twenty is long. Cave fauna included a few flies ( Diptera sp.) with signs of Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) usage. Alley Spring Hole Further on the Alley Spring Trail was Alley Spring Hole, another twenty five foot wonder. The most interesting aspect of this cave was the fact there were two entrances although it was impossible to make a through trip since there was a four inch constriction. A single camel cricket ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) was the only cave life we saw. Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) scat was found in the passage.
11 Alley Spring Tunnel A short hike down Alley Spring Trail was Alley Spring Tunnel, a whopping forty feet. The northern entrance had a ten foot diameter room with a six foot ceiling. A ten foot crawl to the south led to the other entrance above the trail. Recent graffiti was noted on the walls and ceiling. Cave fauna included a few flies ( Diptera sp.) along with Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) scat. Alley Spring Den Twenty feet from Alley Spring Tunnel was Alley Spring Den, at twenty two feet our shortest cave of the day. A hands and knees crawl pinches down in a critter crawl. The only signs of cave fauna usage was some Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) scat. Three Caves Vicinity Ozark National Scenic Riverways Shannon County, Missouri January 15, 2017 By Mark Jones Rain continued to fall for the third straight day of the January expedition of the Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) Ozark Operations but we Grush, Ed Klausner, Dennis Novicky and I left the Powder Mill Research Center at 9:00 a.m. for the Jacks Fork in the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways. Parking on the ridgetop we hiked down a slippery hillside to the first cave of the day. Two Hollow Cave At twenty feet Two Hollow Cave wasour monitoring trip but it needed to be done. A five foot high entrance quickly dropped down to a hands and knees crawl that terminated at a breakdown wall. A few inactive stalactites were seen near the back of the cave. Cave fauna found included four fishing spiders ( Dolomedes sp.), an orb weaver ( Meta ovalis ) and a few flies ( Diptera sp.). Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and scat along with some raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) bones were also noted. Hidden Cave Two hundred feet away was the second cave of the day, Hidden Cave. The caver was convinced that a breakdown bellycrawl continued so he crawled in and discovered a respectable hundred foot cave. been monitored in a while since it filters out the more robust cavers. Ed backed in and was unable (or unwilling) to push it but with Dennis an answer about the cave. After glancing at the map he backed in and twisted around a sharp corner. Ten minutes later he returned with a report. Ten feet inside the entrance the passage makes a 90Â° turn to the left in a bellycrawl. Beyond this point the cave opens into a nicely decorated room with a four foot ceiling, twenty feet later was a flowstone mound that led to a second decorated room. Mission accomplished! Cave fauna found included 300 camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), 30 orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ) and a few flies ( Diptera sp.). An Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) midden and some raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) scat were also noted. Tiger Beetle Cave Our third cave was just around the corner in a bluff above the Jacks Fork. This cave is basically a room filled with large breakdown blocks. The only cave fauna found were a few flies ( Diptera sp.). Fresh Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) scat covered much of the breakdown. Big Three Cave A few hundred feet up the Jacks Fork was the most impressive entrance so tall mouth of Big Three Cave. Easy to spot from the river this cave receives a lot of attention by canoeists during the summer. In spite of trash. The cave has two passages, to
12 the left a hundred foot of sloping breakdown that ends in rubble and to the right a forty foot balcony that ends at a wall. Cave fauna found included fifty camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), three fishing spiders ( Dolomedes sp.) with two egg cases and three orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ). Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and scat along with organ pipe mud dauber ( Trypoxylon politum) nests were also seen. A small mound of strange foam was discovered under the dripline but we were unable to identify if it was organic or mineral in nature. Ed postulates that it was an alien life form but Dennis later discovered that it was simply the result of the breakdown of organic material. Little Three Cave A hundred feet up the bluff was our next objective, Little Three Cave. In eighty feet the twenty foot high ceiling dropped to a stoopwalk then a hands and knees crawl before ending at a solid wall. Cave fauna found included a big brown bat ( Eptesicus fuscus ), 100 camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), 25 orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ), an egg case and some flies ( Diptera sp.). Waterfall Spring Cave Not far from Little Three Cave we heard the roar of falling water emanating from Waterfall Spring Cave. The twenty foot high canyon entrance amplified the sound beyond the actual volume of water that fell ten feet above the floor. The waterfall was forty feet inside the cave with another forty feet of passage above. The gnarly rock afforded good purchase so both Dennis and I climbed up to investigate the balcony. Several beautiful speleothems were discovered in this area. Cave fauna found included three dozen camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), four fishing spiders ( Dolomedes sp.), six orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ) and a few flies ( Diptera sp.). Upper Three Cave We climbed a steep slope above Waterfall Spring Cave to access Upper Three Cave. Although the entrance was six feet high and forty feet wide it was difficult to see from stream level. The main passage remained a stoopwalk thirty feet wide for two hundred feet before a flowstone mound blocked further exploration. A strong breeze blew from a narrow slot indicating more passage but it was inaccessible. On the way out we dropped into a shallow pit along the left wall with a floor level bellycrawl. Once past this constriction it opened into a short crawl to a waterfall room. tall or as decorated as the first waterfall of the day it was still quite interesting. Above the waterfall the passage narrows to less than a foot high in grabby rock that remains unsurveyed. Dennis decided to follow the crawl downstream while Ed and I returned the same way we came. Cave fauna found included twelve pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ), a big brown bat ( Eptesicus fuscus ), a gross of camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), a fishing spider ( Dolomedes sp.), two slugs ( Megapallifera sp.) and some flies ( Diptera sp.). An eastern phoebe ( Sayornis phoebe ) nest and Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) scat were also noted. Middle Three Cave Before Ed and I had exited Upper Three Cave Dennis had popped out of Middle Three Cave. While this cave had a forty foot wide entrance it was only three foot high and extended only fifty feet before the room is filled with breakdown blocks. Weaving between the breakdown the passage narrows to a winding eight foot tall canyon with a trickling stream. This is the connection that Dennis had taken. The water disappeared down a rock drain to resurface in Waterfall Spring Cave. Cave fauna found included three camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) and two orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ).
13 Lower Three Cave Lower Three Cave was found directly below Middle Three Cave at the base of the bluff. With only forty feet of before we were moving on. Cave fauna found included twenty camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) and ten orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ). Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and scat were also present. Bear Den Cave A short hike up the Jacks Fork brought us to Bear Den Cave. Located twenty feet above the base of the bluff it was a bit challenging to climb the steep slippery slope. Dennis and I entered the cave while Ken and Ed resolved GPS waypoints. A walk in entrance soon became a stoopwalk and then a hands and knees crawl before terminating two hundred feet later at a mud choke. Cave fauna included a big brown bat ( Eptesicus fuscus ), 200 camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), two fishing spiders ( Dolomedes sp.), twenty orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ), two terrestrial snails ( Inflectarius sp.) and some flies ( Diptera sp.). Some raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) scat on the floor and a small midden built out of moss on a ledge were also noted. Pinnacle Shelter Eight feet above the Jacks Fork in a rockface is found Pinnacle Shelter. Dennis climbed up to inspect this karst feature. With only twenty cult. An eastern phoebe ( Sayornis phoebe ) nest was the only significant sign of cave fauna. Natural Arch Cave The last cave of the day had the most interesting entrance. A fifteen foot high natural bridge formed a porch with a canyon running into the bluff. Within twenty feet the floor had sloped up to require stoopwalking. This area resembles Swiss cheese with several winding passages about leading to another entrance. Cave fauna found included a single pipistrelle or tri colored bat ( Perimyotis subflavus ), a dozen camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), four orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ), and some flies ( Diptera sp.). An eastern phoebe ( Sayornis phoebe ) nest, an Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) midden and a large deposit of unknown scat were also noted. Addendum: During our monitoring trip none of the bats exhibited signs of white nose syndrome (W.N.S.) ( Pseudogymnoascus destructans ). Ford Bluff Caves Ozark National Scenic Riverways Shannon County, Missouri January 16, 2017 By Mark Jones stop Ed Klausner and me from monitoring more caves along the Jacks Fork in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. This time we headed to Blue Springs to conduct our study. Hiking a short distance upstream we quickly discovered the cluster of caves in Ford Bluff. Loop Cave Climbing up the rocky slope we found the obvious entrance to the first cave of the day. At fifteen feet wide by six feet high it was hard to miss. Under the dripline the floor was a dusty crawl for forty feet until it terminated in a critter crawl. Cave fauna found included a dozen camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), a terrestrial snail ( Inflectarius sp.) and some flies ( Diptera sp.). Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and fresh scat were also present. Loop Cave Annex To the left of Loop Cave was the hands and knees crawl entrance of Loop Cave Annex that funneled down to an easy bellycrawl pinch. On the other side a narrow ten foot high canyon ran perpendicular twenty five feet before abruptly ending. Active flowstone formations were even seen
14 in this area. Cave fauna found included 6 camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) and a few flies ( Diptera sp.). Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and fresh scat as well as some raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) scat were also noted. Hanging Rock Cave Above and to the right of Loop Cave was the aptly named Hanging Rock Cave since a refrigerator sized boulder was wedged on the right side of the entrance. A hands and knees crawl extended a bit over twenty feet before ending in a critter crawl. Cave fauna found included a dozen camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), two terrestrial snails ( Inflectarius sp.) and some flies ( Diptera sp.). Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and fresh scat were also found. Ford Bluff Hole Further up the bluffline was the four foot square entrance to Ford Bluff Hole overlooking the Jacks Fork. This would be the shortest cave of the day in terms of length and amount of time spent. Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and fresh scat were the only cave fauna signs evident. Blue Spring Lodge Cave The last cave of the day, Blue Spring Lodge Cave, was the most extensive and decorated. To look at the three foot diameter entrance crawl one would never expect to find a 385 foot cave. The main trunk ran east in easy walking passage before becoming a tacky mud crawl. Several formation galleries dotted the ceiling all along the way. We poked into several short side passages in search of biota and found three pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ), fifty camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), two slugs ( Megapallifera sp.), two orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ), a millipede and some flies ( Diptera sp.). Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and scat as well as some raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) scat were also noted. During our monitoring trip none of the bats exhibited signs of white nose syndrome (W.N.S.) ( Pseudogymnoascus destructans ). Barn Hollow Caves Texas County, Missouri January 17, 2017 By Mark Jones The fifth day at the January Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) Ozark Operation expedition had four cavers (Jon Beard, Dave West, Karen Willmes and me) ready to monitor caves in Barn Hollow in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and the adjacent property of Missouri Department of Conservation. Bear Cave The first stop on our list was Bear Cave, a cave that the C.R.F. gated two years ago. The hike down the trail brought back fond memories of schlepping steel to build the gate for the protection of the cave critters. I was excited to see how the gate had held up and the cave has fared. Upon arrival it was obvious that the gate was effective in preventing unauthorized access. In no slipped into a forty foot diameter foyer with a twelve foot ceiling. Along the left wall a beautiful three foot high rimstone terrace dominated the room. A shallow stream flowed in from a twelve foot high canyon that trended southeast. For the next three hundred feet we enjoyed a meandering canyon passage decorated with formations of all sorts scattered along the way. Some of these had been vandalized over the years and may never recover but others were beginning to mend. The end comes quickly in a dome room decorated with both speleothems and mud. Almost immediately upon passing the gate we began finding a wide variety of biota. Cave fauna observed included eleven pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ), three cave salamanders ( Eurycea luci-
15 fuga ), three grotto salamanders ( Eurycea spelaus ), a larval salamander ( Eurycea sp.), four dozen camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), a fishing spider ( Dolomedes sp.), an orb weaver ( Meta ovalis ), a slug ( Megapallifera sp.), some flies ( Diptera sp.), three aquatic amphipods ( Crangonyx forbesi ) and a dead millipede. Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and scat as well as extensive raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) scat were also noted. None of the bats exhibited signs of white nose syndrome (W.N.S.) ( Pseudogymnoascus destructans ). Flat Rock Cave Up the hollow at stream level was the next objective Flat Rock Cave, so named for the garage sized rock situated in a pool at the entrance. That was the highpoint of this forty foot cave. The walk in entrance quickly became a bellycrawl when the mud floor met the ceiling. Cave fauna found included a fishing spider ( Dolomedes sp.) and some flies ( Diptera sp.). Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) scat was also present. Critter Crawl Cave Across the way from Flat Rock Cave was a rock outcropping that Karen and I investigated under the assumption that it was Canyon Cave. Instead we found a non descript tubular bellycrawl that extended twenty feet and ended. It was named Critter Crawl Cave. The only cave fauna were a few flies ( Diptera sp.) although raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) scat was seen. Canyon Cave Further upstream we noticed a slot canyon on the right twenty feet up the bluff. I climbed up to find Canyon Cave. A narrow nine foot high canyon became an even narrower six foot high canyon before it terminated twenty feet later at a cross joint. The only cave fauna found were a few flies ( Diptera sp.) but there was quite a few Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and associated scat. Pancake Crawl Cave A hundred feet upstream from Canyon Cave at the same elevation was a wet, rocky bellycrawl that extended twenty feet and then turned to the right. It may continue in a low miserable crawl the occasion. The passage is sixteen feet wide by two feet tall but scattered pendants dropped the ceiling height down to a nominal eighteen inches. This unsurveyed cave is currently being called Pancake Crawl Cave. Barn Hollow Cave While I was checking out Pancake Crawl Cave the others were across the hollow in Barn Hollow Cave. An obvious twenty foot wide by six foot high entrance funneled down to a dusty hands and knees crawl for the next hundred feet. The passage splits at the end where the left branch pinches down and the right branch climbs into a series of small domes and end in the third dome. The cave critters included a camel cricket ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), an orb weaver ( Meta ovalis ), six small, white millipedes, and some flies ( Diptera sp.). Eastern woodrat ( Neotoma floridana ) middens and scat were also noted. Barn Hollow Spring Cave Rather than go straight to the next cave we decided to wander aimlessly up Barn Hollow at stream level. find the cave with all of the anastomosis riddled rock distracting us. far and doubled back higher on the ridge at various elevations. Jon was on a bench near the floor of the valley and found the bellycrawl entrance to Barn Hollow Spring Cave hidden behind a reverse slope next to a break in the bluffline. The entrance belies the interesting cave beyond. Under the dripline the dusty passage quickly opens up into an easy hands and knees crawl that gently slopes down fifty feet to an elbow that pops
16 back up into a two tiered canyon with numerous active formations. This was cave. Cave fauna observed included ten pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ), a dozen camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), three orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ) and some flies ( Diptera sp.). Unfortunately one of the pips exhibited signs of white nose syndrome (W.N.S.) ( Pseudogymnoascus destructans ). Big Barn Hollow Cave While Jon and I were wrapping up Barn Hollow Spring Cave Dave and Karen scouted a bit further downstream and found Big Barn Hollow Cave. earlier is that it is situated on the reverse slope of a bench twenty feet above the streambed where it was hidden from the valley floor. At thirty feet wide and four feet high the entrance was difficult to miss when hiking on the bench. The cave extends seven hundred feet in a nearly straight line to the southwest. Under the dripline the floor drops down to a walking passage for two hundred before narrowing down to a crawl for a hundred feet. In this stretch the walls were lined with speleothems called septarian flowstone that had striking fracture lines caused by the action of freezing and thawing. After the crawl there was another two hundred feet of easy stoopwalking to a formation choke where a short crawl at ceiling level dropped down eight feet to the atrium of the Big Room. At over a hundred feet long, forty feet wide and thirty feet high this was truly an unexpected pleasure. A respectable stream flowed the length of the room disappearing in a rocky bellycrawl upstream and under a floor ledge downstream. The passage terminates at a catastrophic ceiling collapse of mud and rock. Cave fauna observed included twenty pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ), two big brown bats ( Eptesicus fuscus ), a gray bat ( Myotis grisescens ), five dozen camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ), seven orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ) and some flies ( Diptera sp.). Back in the Big Room was a thin layer of An eastern phoebe ( Sayornis phoebe ) nest was also found under the dripline. None of the bats in this cave exhibited signs of white nose syndrome (W.N.S.) ( Pseudogymnoascus destructans ). Little Barn Hollow Cave Our efforts to find Little Barn Hollow Cave were in vain. not a significant cave but it would have been nice to have visited all of the caves in Barn Hollow. In spite of this we felt that monitoring six caves and discovering two more qualified as a good day. Branson Cave Ozark National Scenic Riverways Shannon County, Missouri January 18, 2017 By Mark Jones Several new cavers arrived for the sixth day of the January Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) Ozark Operation expedition. One team of cavers went to Cookstove Cave and Martin Cave to do bat counts with Shelly Colatskie and Pat Cunningham of the Missouri Department of Conservation and another two teams went to Branson Cave. Mick Sutton led Brenda Goodnight, Sue Hagan, Dave West and Karen Willmes on a bio trip while Dennis Novicky and I repaired a breach of the cave gate. At 9:00 a.m. Dennis and I loaded up his truck with the necessary tools and repair items and were on our way. Two months ago it was found that unauthorized visitors had dug under the gate to access the cave. A temporary fix was made but a more permanent solution was needed. Parking at the old Civilian Conservation Corp (C.C.C.) trailhead we toted everything up a rock staircase to a gently sloping grade that ended at the cave. While
17 we inspected the damage Mick unlocked the gate for the cave fauna inventory. Our repair would involve drivangle iron in the floor. Removing the temporary patch we groomed the ground and measured the area. Dennis fired up the oxy acetylene torch, cut the angle iron and punched holes into the steel. Once the material was prepared we set it in place and hammered the pins into the ground. Satisfied with the results we placed large rocks over the screen and landscaped the floor. Total cave time was two hours Branson Cave With the cave gate repaired Dennis and I decided to join the others in the fauna monitoring of Branson Cave. The cave consists of a main trunk passage with a secondary cut around on the right. With a ceiling height of over ten feet this was by far the easiest cave of the week to negotiate. Several broad domes in the ceiling boasted beautiful drapery although much of the passage was formation free. Five hundred feet into the left in the main passage for another five hundred feet to the upper cut around. Continuing left we soon met searching for cave biota. Seven hundred feet later the cave abruptly ended in a flowstone wall. Returning back to the upper cut around we detoured off to the right in a roomy crawl that gradually opened up to a stoopwalk before shutting down in a tight bellycrawl that reconnects with tion. Dennis was able to wiggle through but no one else followed him. Retracing our steps we doubled back and made our way to the entrance. cave will be entered in the Missouri Cave Database. Powder Mill Creek Cave Missouri Department of Conservation Shannon County, Missouri January 19, 2017 By Mark Jones The seventh day of the January Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) Ozark Operation expedition began with a morning trip scheduled to conduct a faunal count in nearby Powder Mill Creek Cave. Shelly Colatskie a bat biologist of the Missouri Department of Conservation would be leading a team into the twilight zone to do a bat count and related activities while Jon Beard and I would wander further upstream to do a general biological inventory. Located at the base of a breakdown slope the unassuming sixteen foot wide by six foot tall entrance opens up gradually with the stream on the right. Twenty feet inside the dripline a cave gate spanned the passage protecting eight miles of cave beyond. Unlike two years ago when we found over 1,500 Northern long eared bats ( Myotis septentrionalis ) at the entrance this time there were only a few seen. This population collapse is attributed to the terrible fungal disease, white nose syndrome (W.N.S.) ( Pseudogymnoascus destructans ). On the plus side several clusters of tightly packed Indiana bats ( Myotis sodalis ) appeared to be in good health. Here Jon and I split from the others to continue upstream. During our trek the ceiling height never dropped beany less than twenty feet. A wide variety of ceiling formations made the trip quite enjoyable. The pocketed ceiling afforded plenty of hiding places for the bats so it took a bit to make a thorough sweep. Most of the time we were wading in water that ranged from ankle to waist deep with several stretches of sandbars to get us out of the water. We did find several dozen pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ) scattered throughout the next thousand feet of passage. Other cave critters seen included a couple pickerel frogs ( Rana palustris ), a banded sculpin ( Cottus carolinae ), two larval salamanders ( Eurycea sp.) and some flies ( Diptera sp.). At the Beachhead we exited the stream for a
18 final time with over 7.5 miles of cave ahead. On the return trip we were surprised when a beaver ( Castor Canadensis ) swam between Jon and me. unexpected though since there are three dams outside the cave across three beaver nests in the mudbanks during our trip. The other team was nearly finished with their bat work when we arrived. Total cave time was three hours. Round Spring Cavern Ozark National Scenic Riverways Shannon County, Missouri January 19, 2017 By Mark Jones For the afternoon trip Scott House led us to perform a bio inventory at Round Spring Cavern in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Other than for this faunal survey and a minimum of maintenance, this cave is closed from Labor Day to Memorial Day in deference to the creatures. At 2:30 p.m. we crossed the bridge over Spring Valley Creek and climbed the stairs up to the gated entrance. Three eastern phoebe ( Sayornis phoebe ) nests were noted outside the gate. A cold breeze wafted out of the narrow foyer. When the cave was discovered during the Civil War entry was through an extensive rocky watercrawl that deterred all but the heartiest of explorers. Later when a walkway was cut above the stream for commercialization the proprietor kept close tabs on the visitors to prevent vandalism. When the National Park Service acquired protected from abuse. Jon Beard led Dave West and Karen Willmes on a survey of the Left Hand Route of the T Junction while Scott took Don Dunham and me along with Dave Tobey, a park ranger, down the Right Hand Route. Our group also did way in. Disappointing is the best word to describe the bat numbers in this section. A mere nine pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ) and a solitary big brown bat ( Eptesicus fuscus ) plus some camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) were all that we could find before the T Junction. Although thousand feet of passage. The low bat A total of fourteen pips were recorded in the Right Hand Route. In spite of the depressing figures none of the bats on our trip exhibited signs of white nose syndrome (W.N.S.) ( Pseudogymnoascus destructans ). All of a sudden we crossed the Travertine Bridge and BAM we were in a low room with nubbin soda straws dotting the ceiling. Then we saw several flowstone mounds followed by a variety of formations. When we reached the Pendant Plateau the formation density increased even more. A hundred feet later we were at the Fountain of Youth so named because of the multitude of larval salamanders ( Eurycea sp.) found in the pools. We were not disappointed! Dozens and dozens of these little guys filled several shallow mud divots. By the 150. In some places adult cave salamanders ( Eurycea lucifuga ) were in the same pools. The adults had a thin layer of silty clay covering their backs as if they had been excavating the mud. In addition we saw ten pickerel frog ( Rana palustris ) in and around the water. An explosion of formations now seemed to be everywhere. Large teardrop formations called mangelwurtzels hung from the ceiling aside beautiful drapery, soda straws and stalactites. Named locations like Onyx titudes of formations to daze your senses. A number of colorful two foot diameter columns were snapped and separated several inches when the unstable mud floor subsided eons ago. All good things come to an end and so it was for the Right Hand Route of Round Spring Cave. What a
19 fantastic finish to a fine week of cave monitoring in the Ozarks. Away From Ice Storms Jan 13 18, 2017 By Ed Klausner With ice storms predicted for much of the midwest, I headed down to Powder Mill in Ozark National Scenic Riverways for a Cave Research Foundation monitoring, surveying and gate repair trip. Monitoring involves a detailed survey of the biology in selected caves along with signs of human use (the caves are closed other than by permit.) The information collected is entered into the Missouri Cave Database and is used by various researchers and agencies. On the first day, Mark Jones and I headed off in a government truck to a nearby cave. What could go wrong with Mark and I unsupervised? It was raining with the temperature around 31 degrees. There was ice on the trees but the road and ground was not icy. Finding the cave was not difficult, but once we were in front of it getting a GPS reading, out ran one wild hog followed by a second and in a short time seven adults (with tucks) and one baby ran out of the cave. Unfortunately, the baby went in a different direction than the adults so we knew the adults would be returning. Nervously, Mark looked in the cave entrance and saw an additional five babies. He did not venture further to see if there were additional babies or adults. By now the adults had returned and were going around us grunting. I hoped Mark was tastier than me, or at least appeared so. We were able to get back to the truck without incident and decided to go someplace a bit safer. All we encountered in the second cave was a Black Rat Snake who was active but we were able to photograph it and the snake monitored us while we monitored the cave. On the second day it was still raining. The people who were planning of coming down from St. Louis all cancelled as many of the roads were closed due to ice. We were joined by Dennis Novicky (a local) and Scott House to monitor caves in three different areas. In one of the areas, Scott dropped us off on the side of the road directly above two caves that were down the steep hillside. He parked further down the road in a safe spot while Mark, Dennis and I monitored the caves. When we got back up to the road, Scott picked us up and we went to Aly Spring to monitor six more caves. We found two with new graffiti which we cleaned up a few days later. The next day, Ken Grush joined Mark, Dennis and me for a trip along the Jacks Fork River to an area that had a dozen caves that we monitored. We found several bats, all appeared to be healthy. It was still cold and raining but it was better to be out caving in the rain than staying inside. The following day it was raining with dense fog in places. Mark and I headed off to a different area along caves. We were not able to reach the sixth as we had to traverse a ledge and the wet rock and leaves on the ledge made it too slippery. One of the caves was about 400 feet long and had several healthy bats and nice formations. On my last day of caving, I joined Shelly Colatskie and Patrick Cunningham from the Missouri Department of Conservation, plus Don Dunham and Jon Beard, to monitor the bats in Cookstove Cave. The cave is known for with a flat floor that was once used as a dance hall. The rest of the room has breakdown. We saw lots of hibernating bats and the biologists from the MDC took pictures and will later count noses to get a more accurate count. We had time left so we headed to a second cave also known to be hibernacula. It was with approximately 5,000 Indiana bats and 30,000 Grey bats. Accurate counts will take the MDC
20 some time as the pictures have to be blown up and each nose counted. Dennis Novicki at Big Three Cave. Photo by Ed Klausner.
21 Three Forks Cave Adair County, Oklahoma January 30, 2017 By Mark Jones Since Clayton Russell was recuperating from a stint in the hospital it was Cynthia Russell and I for the first day of 2017 survey in Three Forks Cave. We began resurveying late in 2016 and wanted to keep the momentum going. With the two main entrances inventoried back in December we turned our attention to the passages boxing in the Guad (rhymes with mud). When we have a better idea know if a dig trip is an option to avoid the energy sucking Guad. We were underground at 9:00 a.m. entering through the Submarine Entrance to correct some survey snafus in the area. From the moment inside the gate and for the remainder of the day we found pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ) hanging out everywhere. healthy one hundred twenty six with no visible signs of white nose syndrome (W.N.S.) ( Pseudogymnoascus destructans ). Several photos of the bats were taken to confirm our opinion. Once the survey issues were addressed Cynthia and I picked up from the first left off the T survey at station 35. This would be called the G survey. survey experience I began reading instruments and keeping book but with a little help she soon was taking backsight readings. The first shot trended to the southwest in a tall intersection and was the longest of the day at sixty feet. At G1 were the remains of a gas stove along with broken jars, canning lids and other debris from the moonshining days of old. Three Oklahoma salamanders ( Eurycea tynerensis ) and three dozen Eurycea sp.) were discovered wading in the stream during our work. The survey turned 90Â° to the northright. Sticking with the mainstream we were rewarded with a twenty foot dome decorated with numerous formations and dominated by a ten foot drapery. Thirty feet later were the first desiccated rimstone dams of the First Guad Pond. At one time they would have exuded spectacular beauty coated rock. Rather than continue into the First Guad Pond we turned right to survey a second high ceiling channel crawl that connected with The Roundhouse. This easy fifty foot hands and knees crawl had a nice eight foot dome halfway into the passage. retreated back to the first ceiling channel and surveyed it back to The Roundhouse. This was a bit lower and muddier with room on the right and a tight squeeze on the left. Instead of pushing through the squeeze we decided to take a shot from the crawl and simply walk around to The Roundhouse to take the backsight. We exited through the Washtub Entrance and found a dozen orb weavers ( Meta ovalis ) guarding the canyon. Survey start to the week. Three Forks Cave January 31, 2017 it over to Oklahoma until later in the week so Cynthia Russell and I set out at 9:00 a.m. to survey past The Roundhouse toward the northwest. Again today Cynthia set stations and read backsights while I kept book and read foresights. Tying into Station T38 we continued up the twelve foot high canyon trying to avoid stepping in the shallow meandering stream ( Eurycea sp.) seemed to be everywhere. The canyon continued for over a hundred feet before a six foot high mud wall blocked much of the passage. several mud filled cross joints with but one humanly enterable crawl on
22 the right that heads toward the Bee Tree Entrance. Focusing on getting to the start of the Muddy Maze we left this for another trip. Climbing over the mud wall we were soon back down in the canyon only now we had to contend with a boot sucking muddy slurry. Thankfully thirty feet later the canyon ended in a twenty foot diameter breakdown room. In addition to the regular pieces of ceiling breakdown the slope was covered in sizable speleothems that fell long ago. We called this the Drippy Room because of the unceasing water droplets falling from the ceiling. Beyond here it was a short crawl to another breakdown room. At the far end was a three foot drop down to the beginning of the Muddy Maze. A permanent station (M12) was set to act as the springboard for the assault on this labyrinth. A lower crawlway was tied in before packing it in for the day. Two cave salamanders ( Eurycea lucifuga ) tucked away in the rocks were found this area by Cynthia. Unlike yesterday we only saw three pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ) between stations T38 and M13. Total survey was Three Forks Cave February 1, 2017 The third day of surveying at Three Forks Cave had Dennis Novicky and me starting out at the First Guad Pond (station G7) surveying in a side passage toward Winchester Cathedral. Dennis was on point and reading backsights and I sketched and read foresights. In the first twenty feet a series of three foot high rimstone dams spanned the fifteen foot wide corridor but have been undercut leaving them high and dry most of the time. The uppermost dam impounds the water with a waterfall trickling over a spillway and disappearing until it reappears after the last rimstone dam. The First Guad Pond is a twenty foot wide by forty foot long pool behind the dam. The depth of the water/ guano/mud mixture, guad, is deceiving but any step could drop you three feet. We avoid wandering into this trap by crawling along the left wall on a sloping, narrow mud ledge. Afered in mud though it is easy to slip into the pool. twenty five foot reprieve of a mud berm before dropping down into the skirt this quagmire but fortunately we were near our side passage so it was only a nuisance. Beyond this point though the Third Guad Pond is another story with over two hundred encountered in a cave. Continuing to the west southwest in a relatively waltzing out to the Winchester Cathedral. How wrong I was, the passage soon became a two hundred foot hands and knees crawl in a soupy mud. This is now the Muddy Mess Passage. ever reaching the Winchester Cathedral Dennis was standing on a rocky breakdown slope in a well decorated room. The left wall was coated with soda straws, stalactites, drapery, columns, flowstone and rimstone dams. Unfortunately water was randomly dripping from the ceiling but always seemed to hit my drawing. Coated in mud it was nigh on impossible to even see what I was putting on the paper. Eventually a rudimentary sketch was rendered. A breakdown canyon extended another hundred feet before terminating at a pile of ceiling debris. A low, miserable crawl to the right thankfully pinched out before swallowing Dennis. A total growing footage of Three Forks Cave. Although no bats were spotted during our survey we were rewarded with a cave salamander ( Eurycea lucifuga ), several Oklahoma salamanders ( Eurycea tynerensis salamanders ( Eurycea sp.).
23 Three Forks Cave February 2, 2017 Day four at Three Forks Cave had Dennis Novicky and me bound for the northeastern to mop up some smaller chunks remaining from the December survey. From the Washtub Entrance it was only fifteen minutes to the Gargoyle Room where we needed to tie in an attic crawl. Once again Dennis was on point and reading backsights while I took notes and read foresights. From Station T68 we crawled north along the west wall to a balcony overlook where we turned east and crossed over the Gargoyle Room. Finally we followed the east wall to tie into Station T64. During this hundred foot survey we crawled over an undulating rock floor that was obviously a big draw for the resident raccoons ( Procyon lotor ) from all of the scat found. Back at the Little Junction we tied into Station T56 and crawled northeast seventy five feet up a gradual gravel slope to a room that ended at a critter crawl. A lone bear bed was the only attraction of this passage. South of Station T56 Dennis led me into the Pinch of Death, a room I it was worth the effort. Thankfully a rock closet gave easier access than the pinch. While I was putting the finishing touches on the map Dennis said I may want to work a bit faster. In the back of the room he noticed that the ceiling was actually of conglomerate supported on its edges, kind of like a drop ceiling. Before the ceiling did drop we photographed this amazing feature. Next we tied into Station T45 in the Little Junction to survey out to the John Dave Entrance. A chilly breeze was being drawn into the crawlway giving us a real incentive to work quickly. After the first shot we abandon this survey in deference to the numerous pipistrelles or tri colored bats ( Perimyotis subflavus ) in the confined space enjoying the cold. These little fellows need all when the temperatures are a bit higher and the bats have vamoosed. Returning to Station T45 we struck out to the northwest toward the Bee Tree Entrance. This is a misnomer as there is no entrance of any sort at the end of this passage. An easy hundred foot stoopwalk ended in a room at a wall of breakdown. A couple of side crawlways added another fifty feet. We exited the Little Junction for dink ceiling crawl was soon inventoried before heading toward our last objective for the day. On the way to the Grand Junction we stopped at Station T35 to tie in a lower watercrawl. Located six feet underneath the main passage this rocky crawl extends fifty feet from the waterfall to a small pool and drain. Several demineralizing flowstone formations can be found in this crawl. This was an interesting way to close out the survey. count included sixty pips and scads of scat, both raccoon and woodrat. Four days at Three Forks Cave and sixty hours of work. The grand We The hospitality of Clayton and Cynthia Russell was much appreciated looking forward to returning soon. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky February 18, 2017 By Ed Klausner Domes area of Mammoth Cave for a number of years and thought I really had to replace some of the old survey going north out of the domes. This area was explored as a possible connection to Flint Ridge and once two connections were found elsewhere, little else had been done there. Three fixed
24 ropes were placed recently, one to drop down into the first or southern most dome, one to get up from the first into the second dome, and one to get up into the north western most dome. Elizabeth Miller and Tim Green joined me for a day of survey. Not having to bring ropes made our trip them and do the rigging. We brought along a DistoX which changed our objectives as we could do a tie shot across one of the domes to close a loop. We spent a fair amount of time getting up to the window on the east side of the dome. It had been a dozen or so years since I had been there and the route is obscure in a few spots. We finally found the correct route and put a piece of flagging tape on the existing station. We then returned to the first dome, dropped it, climbed to the second dome, travelled a few hundred feet to the last climb to the north western most dome. From the window on the opposite side of the dome, it was easy to do the survey shot to the flagging tape. From there, we went to the first lead in the passage heading north from the dome and found virgin cave. It was nothing to write home about as it was low, wet and fairly miserable. After a hundred or so feet, it became this area and we ran out of time as we were signed out to 11 PM. The trip back was uneventful and we got back only 20 minutes late. Making the tie across the dome and finding virgin cave is always rewarding. Nick Schmuecker in Coldwater Cave, Iowa. Photo by Scott Dankof Photo Gallery
25 Light bulb half filled with water along old commercial cave tour in remote Arkansas. Photo by Scott Dankof.