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National Speleological Society (Iowa Grotto)
National Speleological Society (Iowa Grotto)
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Intercom is a publication of the Iowa Grotto of the National Speleological Society, Inc., an internal organization of the National Speleological Society (NSS). The Iowa Grotto, is dedicated to the exploration, study, and conservation of caves.
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Volume 54, Number 4 (July - August 2018).
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I N T E R C O M Volume 54, Issue 4 July August 2018 Iowa Grotto P.O. Box 228 Iowa City, IA 52244 Grotto Website: Coldwater Cave Project website: coldwater Membership Dues : due January 1, $15.00 per year and family dues are $18.00 per year. INTERCOM subscriptions are only $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 March 1st. Send material for publication, e mail, disk or hard copy to: Editor and Typist: Jenny Hackman 319 290 9282 1313 245th St. Elgin, IA. 52141 E mail: Coordinate photographs for publication in the INTERCOM with Jenny Hackman, 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 : The next meeting is September 26, 2018 at 125 Townbridge Hall on the campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. Following this, the meetings will be held quarterly with the next meeting being in January 2019. If you would like to join the meetings through skype email Ed Klausner: Cover Photo: sas. This was taken during a massive thunderstorm Scott Dankof. National Speleological Society P. O. Box 228 Iowa City, Iowa 52244 Chairman Ed Klausner Vice Chairman/Treasurer John Donahue Secretary Elizabeth Miller Volume 54 Issue 4 ______________ C O N T E N T S _____________ Meeting Minutes 58 Trip reports: Mystery Cave 59 Three Forks Cave 59 Fitton Spring Cave 61 Cave Research Foundation Kids Weekend 62 Coldwater Cave 64 64 Kemling Cave 65 Photo Gallery 66 __________CALENDAR___________ September Grotto Meeting Sept. 26 125 Townbridge Hall at 7:30 PM January Grotto Meeting TBD Minutes of the Iowa Grotto Regular Meeting: July 25, 2018 Meeting was cancelled. Minutes of the Iowa Grotto Regular Meeting: August 22, 2018


The regular meeting was called to order by Chairman Ed Klausner at 7:40 PM. 3 members were present. The business meeting was preceded by slides of Mammoth Cave expeditions and the Iowa Grotto picnic Secretary Lizzy Miller read the minutes of the June 28 meeting. They were approved as corrected. There was Trip Reports: Lizzy reported on the Grotto picnic Friday night trip into Mystery II. Ed described his map sketching training with Mark Jones and several other cavers. The August trip into Coldwater Cave included visits by 6 new cavers. Upcoming trips: There will be a for surveying. Old business: The annual auction at the grotto picnic funded the purchase of wet suits and supplies for new cavers. New Business: White nose has been found in New Mexico caves at El Malpais, Carlsbad and Guadeloupe Mountain National Park. Recent study of hominid remains from a cave in Siberia showing interbreeding of Neanderthals and Denisovans. A number of internet reports have covered this finding recently. The meeting was adjourned at 8:03 PM. Mystery Cave Filmore County, Minnesota July 13 14, 2018 By: Mark Jones For a change of pace, the 2018 Iowa Grotto Picnic was scheduled for just across the state line in Minnesota. The staff of the Minnesota State Parks arranged for us to have off trail access to several areas of this impressive cave. At over twelve miles this cave offers a wide range pleasure of visiting this cave and was excited when a Friday night trip to Mystery II was offered to the grotto members. Fifteen people met at the Mystery II entrance at 7:00 p.m. to get a tour of this seldom seen part of the cave. We spent two hours visiting exquisite formations scattered around the area. The Iowa Grotto had good attendance for its annual picnic with several groups setting out on a variety of trips. I joined Ed Klausner in Mystery Cave in teaching basic surveying to Matt Frana and XXXXX. Both took to surveying right away reading compass and inclinometer, recording data and sketching the map. Four hours were spent on this very productive trip developing more surveying talent for the Iowa Grotto. Three Forks Cave Adair County, Oklahoma July 28, 2018 By: Mark Jones Nearly two years since we began the resurvey of Three Forks Cave in Oklahoma we were going to attempt to connect the hanging survey from the first book to the rest of the survey. In 2016 new passage had been found beyond The Cactus Formation (Station C1) which a team of cavers surveyed five hundred feet with going cave. Rather than simply attach it to the old map it was decided to resurvey the entire cave to bring it up to current standards. During this time over a dozen trips have been made with over 1.7 miles of passage being inventoried. Connecting the hanging survey has been delayed due to the numerous challenges of The Guad. A five hundred foot stretch of water/ mud/guano slurry impedes travel, deflates egos and crushes dreams. In addition, the landowners utilize the water from The Guad which is agitated by the cavers, so we wanted to make the most of every trip. hope of bypassing The Guad, so it was now time to address the issue head on. Long discussions had taken place


as to the best method to solve the problem of keeping the sketcher improve the travel experience. It was decided to use a rope system to pull a rafting tube that is normally towed behind a speedboat. Two one hundred to the tow point so that the raft could be maneuvered back and forth by the Sherpas while the sketcher remained relatively clean. Not sure of the drag co efficient of the water/ mud/guano slurry we also brought some Jumar ascenders in case the rope proved to be too slippery. Everything seemed to be ready, the question would be if it would work. Dennis and Austin Novicky wanted to survey and push a lead at the end of The Cactus survey, so they bolted ahead of our expedition. A crack team of cavers was planned for the main mission Ed Klausner, Mike Nelson, Don Payne, Jenn Ellis and me. Ed was going to captain the S.S. Minnow but unfortunately, he had hurt himself earlier in the week leaving me to stand in. Clayton and Cynthia Russell helped us stage the raft and stood on the shore waving bon voyage as the boat shoved off. We started our journey at Station G22 at the beginning of The Third Guad Pond heading northwest with Mike setting stations and reading backsights, Don pulling the SS Minnow, Jenn reading foresights and with me sketching and occasionally riding the raft. A majority of The Guad passage offered plenty of room with up to sixteen foot ceilings however the never ending quagmire offset this advantage. The first shot of twenty feet brought us to a three foot tall rimstone dam that spanned the twelve foot wide passage. While the others slogged through the thigh deep slurry for the next seventy feet I remained relatively clean on the raft keeping notes and drawing. Amazingly the raft slid easily over the muddy film with a minimum of effort. Forty feet later I debarked from the raft to a respectable room with a solid floor of rock and mud that I sketched before returning to my ship. Mike was having problems staying warm, so he opted to leave while the rest of us would soldier on. Now Jenn would be setting stations and reading backsights and I would be using the Disto X to take foresights. After sixty feet of slimy, slurry tubing the raft was beached for the remainder of the survey. The passage had morphed into a narrow canyon that precluded the use of the flotation device, but the boot sucking mud continued. Sixty feet of canyon eventually broke out into a twenty foot diameter room filled with a mountain of debris. The left side of the pile was coated with a thick veneer of bat guano from long ago, so we christened this The Guano Room. Sliding down the guano we rejoined the canyon of boot sucking mud for a hundred feet to a loop to the right and more passage to the left. Focusing on tying into Station C1 we left the formation loop for another day. Around the corner we finally reached the side passage off to the left with The Cactus Formation just inside. About this time Dennis and Austin popped up with stories of their exploits. Suffice it to say that they had pushed several hundred feet down a gnarly crawl heading south. Their report will be filed separately, and the notes will be incorporated in the master map being done by Ed. The return trip proved the concept of shuttling cavers back to this area to continue surveying to The Octopus Room and beyond. On the way out one person would wade through the quagmire to a staging area, tow the others over one at a time, and repeat. This was done five times with good results. This system should pay off handsomely for future trips. The raft, ropes and air pump were stowed


and then a thirty foot shot. All of these were in a comfortable hands and knees crawl that trended westerly. In fact, we were in similar passage for another three hundred feet. A trickling stream meandered from wall to wall across the twenty foot wide passage throughout the entire survey. Only a smattering of ceiling formations were seen in this section. feet. The survey ended in a formation room with a hundred fifty feet of walking passage remaining. A cherty bellycrawl extends beyond this point for an unknown distance. According to gravelly crawl for several hundred feet to a wall of breakdown. The next trip will be squirming in a gnarly bellycrawl in a flowing stream, so a full wetsuit may be necessary. Cave fauna observed on this trip included a cave salamander (Eurycea lucifuga), a grotto salamander (Eurycea spelaus) and an unidentified salamander (Eurycea sp.). August 3, 2018 The continuing Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) survey of Fitton Cave had a small group of cavers using the Beauty Entrance to check leads and possibly survey in the Lower East Passage. Bud Beeson, Matt Beeson, Dillon Freiburger, Kayla Sapkota, Branden Van Dalsem and I casually hiked the trail and up to the Beauty Entrance where a slight breeze wafted from the cave. We dropped down a breakdown slope to a flowstone room, down another breakdown pile through several hundred feet of stoopwalk passage to The Manhole. Dillon, Kayla and Brandon opted to drop down through this squeeze while Bud, Matt and I took the hundred foot bellycrawl bypass. The group rejoined in another stoopwalking canyon that broke out into the East Passage. For the next half hour we were in undulating borehole, over The Razorback between the First and Second Guad Ponds on an expansive mudbank. It was an easy trek back to the Washtub Entrance where a post trip picture was taken before returning to the cabin to clean up. Tallying the numbers around the dinner table we ended up with 610.0 feet of survey and the Novicky survey postulating the possibilities for future surveys. Will we connect to nearby Bear Crawl Cave? Is there a crawlway connection past the Second Parachute Room? Does the passage beyond the Octopus Room break out? Join us on the next adventure. Cave fauna observed on The Guad survey included four cave salamanders (Eurycea lucifuga), a western slimy salamander (Plethodon albagula or glutinosus) and a few orb weavers (Meta ovalis). Fitton Spring Cave (C14) FSB550 Newton County, Arkansas August 2 4, 2018 By: Mark Jones After a great weekend at Three Forks Cave over in Oklahoma I wandered over to Newton County, Arkansas to assist in the continuing Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) survey at Fitton Cave. Since I arrived early Kayla Sapkota suggested that I pushed nearby Fitton Spring Cave. Mike Nelson and Corey Maize joined me in this endeavor. The previous survey trip back in February 2017 had garnered four hundred feet which was tied off where the gravel outwash approached the ceiling. Preparing to be in water much of the day we opted for farmer john bibs with Mike using a 5 mm and Corey and I using 7 mm. This survey had Mike on point setting stations and reading backsights, Corey reading foresights and me keeping book. From the last station (F11) the first shot was forty feet followed by the next shot of fifty feet


rock, through the Eye of the Needle and back into more borehole. At Station E40 Dillon and Brandon continued further down the East Passage to the Roundhouse as the rest of us dropped down to the Lower East Passage. This is just one of many places to access the lower recesses. As the meandering stream has cut down through the limestone in this area it has deposited mud and rock in the upper balcony and created an offset lower canyon. At the bottom of the canyon Matt and I split off to venture deeper to reconnoiter some secondary leads while Kayla and Bud pursued some other leads. Working off a list we quickly nixed the first couple of leads at stream level before Matt wiggled through a ceiling level crawl that reconnected with the East Passage. Recording the location, we continued in search of an elusive lead. Matt took the stream while I poked around the balcony in vain, never finding anything remotely suggesting a lead. Since time was running out we packed up to meet the others back in the East Passage. A pleasant pace was set for our exit. A total of six hours was spent on trip. August 4, 2018 For the second day of the Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) Fitton Cave survey eighteen people assembled at Steel Creek to knock out more leads. Mike Nelson, Don Payne and I were going to be part of a group sent out to the Crystal Passage. Arriving at the Beauty Entrance at 10:00 a.m. Retracing the route from yesterday we hiked out past Station 40 to The Out Room, a huge breakdown room. Just a few hundred feet down the East Passage we climbed up a mountain of breakdown to the Roundhouse. Here we hugged the right wall to an inconspicuous stoopwalk that was the beginning of the Crystal Passage. Almost immediately beautiful gypsum crystals of all types coated the ceiling, walls and floor. The passage split several times but unfortunately, we were stymied as to which was the correct course. Eventually Brandon was able to squeeze through a breakdown choke to our destination. While the others addressed their leads Mike, Don and I located our objective of Double Drop Pit near Station C29 where our survey began. Mike was on point setting stations and reading backsights with the Disto X, Don read foresights with the Disto X and I kept book. The first shot of fifty feet brought us to the pit where we spiraled down the pit twenty twenty foot pit on the left funneled down to a narrow canyon that came and went throughout the remainder of the survey. Eighty feet into the crawl Mike reached a thirty foot pit that terminated our survey. Mike attempted to cross above the obstruction but crawl that continues. Although we obviously did as there was flagging tape on the far side. Photos of the area were taken for future reference to assist in the survey. We had an easy trip out reaching the Beauty Entrance at 6:00 p.m. Cave Research Foundation Kids Weekend Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky August 17 19, 2018 By: Ed Klausner The Cave Research Foundation had its first (hopefully the first of many) expeditions at Mammoth Cave for kids. With adult supervision, they were the expedition leaders, ran the morning meeting, led the trips, and reported their findings after the trip. Over 50 people attended including the park superintendent and his family, the Cultural Resource Manager and his family, plus two park rangers who are also CRF members. The morning meeting before the trips went out started with a safety


video on both personal safety and cave conservation. There was a microbiology trip to Great Onyx cave, a hydrology and geology trip to Historic Mammoth, and an archaeology trip that I was on with Elizabeth and our grandson to Salts Cave. Our trip had an equal number of adults and kids and after finding and interpreting some artifacts that we found by Dr. George Crothers (anthropologist and CRF member), we spread out to search for more artifacts. We found three previously unknown petroglyphs and a stone tool which is rather significant. We took a different way out of Salts cave that involved lots of crawling and climbing. It gave the kids a chance to move faster than when they had been searching for artifacts. We had planned on an evening meeting so the kids could give trip reports, but they were playing well together and we postponed the meeting until the following morning. The delay gave the microbiology swabs a chance to grow and the kids got to see where bacteria could be found in the cave. There was a trip to New Discovery on the second day, but most of us had to leave as we had long drives ahead of us. That trip was to learn about geology, hydrology, history and speleothem growth. I certainly hope this becomes a regular CRF event as we would like to continue to attract new cavers.


Coldwater Cave Winneshiek County, Iowa August 18, 2018 By: Mark Jones Arriving Thursday evening I was planning on spending Friday getting the compound in shape but one minute after getting the Weed Whipper started the connecting rod went through the crankcase. This Coldwater workhorse has served admirably for over fifteen years and has survived untold abuse and numerous floods. Hopefully we can replace the engine as the frame is still in good shape. So instead of getting the grounds mowed I spent the day lounging around the Cave Shack. That afternoon Matt and Nic Frana and Joel Thomas stopped by The next morning Joel brought Chase Christopher, Dan McCabe, Travis Schnur and Colter Thomas to the Cave Shack to try on wetsuits and make last minute adjustments. As they were suiting up Matt and Nic drove in. Shelby Tait Staley was the last to arrive to complete the team. I gave a quick overview of caving and Coldwater Cave before the lid was opened to the shaft. One by one we descended to the platform where we found the water a tad bit high for late summer, but gradually drop to allow access beyond The Spong this winter. Weaving between huge ceiling slabs of The Upstream Breakdown our first destination was in the side passage of North Snake. This is a classic Coldwater Cave in feeder that give first time visitors a good feel for most of the cave system. A muddy stoopwalk eventually funnels down to a muddy hands and knees crawl before pinching down to a gnarly muddy bellycrawl. A ten minute detour gave the group a good taste of what awaits down other passages. Back in the mainstream we climbed over another pile of ceiling breakdown where we stopped to admire The Crinoid Beds. A massive twenty foot square block had separated from the ceiling now sat in the middle of the passage exposing a multitude of exquisite crinoid flowers. During the fossilization process these delicate structures are lost with only the coarse stems remaining, however in this case the entire crinoid is found intact. Further upstream we took off from Jumping Off Point for another hundred feet before doubling back to the platform. On the way back, we noticed that our breathing was a bit labored indicating that the CO2 level was probably high. Several people shed their wetsuit tops at the platform for a short jaunt down to The Gallery. The summer rains have shifted the sediments around making it easier to bob down to The Gallery. Big Bertha, a star attraction of Coldwater Cave, was looking especially nice as a film of water coated it from ceiling to floor. This massive flowstone formation has been a popular subject for photographers of all sorts over the years. We ventured another hundred feet downstream to look at other formations before retreating to the platform and making for the surface. The group spent two hours getting incaves. Fayette County, Iowa August 25, 2018 By: Ed Klausner Several people in the grotto wanted Cave was easily accessible and needed an updated map. Since the cave is close due to White Nose Syndrome, I got permission from the County Conservation Board with the understanding that we would use decontaminated gear and would decontaminate our gear after the trip.


It was threatening bad weather and there were a few cancellations due to weather (including a tree that blew we did have 7 people show up. Elizabeth and I met Chris Beck, Randy and Liz Hayungs, plus Jordan and John Kjome at the cave. After a brief explanation about surveying, we started at the drip line and surveyed towards the back of the cave. Everyone had a chance to read instrument, figure out where to set stations and measure distance (including distance to left and right walls, plus ceiling and floor.) I explained the sketching process and there was interest in learning how to sketch as well. We finished the upper level and then started on the wet lower level. We stopped at a 4 foot deep, wall to wall pool and will return with dryer conditions and wetsuits as the cave continues. All in all, we got 159.9 feet of survey. With the remaining time, we hiked to two nearby caves, Plunge Pool Cave and Dry Branch Cave. We had thoughts of putting them on the same map as to make it a meaningful map. Kemling Cave Dubuque County, Iowa August 26, 2018 By: Mark Jones for his radon studies at Kemling Cave and Zach Herrmann met up at 10:00 a.m. at the entrance shaft. Since cave trip I outfitted them with gear as well as covered the basics of ethi c a l c a v i n g . D r o p p i n g d o w n t h e t w e nfoot shaft we wove down the entrance passage to the Big Room. This room boasts some of the nicest formations in the system stalactites, soda straws, helictites and draperies. Continuing down through knee deep mud we took the Overpass Crawl over to the Grand Canyon. From here it was a bit more slogging through some more knee deep mud to The Jug Room. A short detour was taken to perched pool on a balcony alcove that Chris Beck has been restoring. Next, we crawled through a beautiful gallery of helictites that extended for over a hundred feet to another Chris Beck Restoration Project in another perched pool balcony alcove. Just past here we stopped at the K19 Dig, the site of an ongoing excavation. Both Miah and Zach bellycrawled forty feet to the face of the lead in the future. Around the corner we climbed up to yet another Chris Beck Restoration Project at a perched pool balcony alcove. Over the years this area has been transformed from a dull, mud coated room to a gorgeous reflective pool. On the way out, we took a detour down a narrow slit canyon to the Grand Canyon. We spent three hours exploring just the main Kemling left to see.


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