The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Going Underground

The last two Saturdays were spent caving, my back and sciatic nerve issues have (since May) kept me off the bike as of late, so this seemed like a good compromise. I say seemed, because it still hurt like hell last week when ArcFlash and I did Cold Water Cave in Iowa. Things are healing nicely now and this past Saturday at the Minnesota Speleological Survey's (MSS) Cornfeed at Mystery Cave was enjoyable.
Man made entrance, the river is 90++ feet down  

The platform at the bottom

Good pics are hard to come by down here. The walls are mostly black and suck up all the light and the humidity is 100% so everything gets misty when you breath 
 Cold Water cave is truly amazing. It's an underground river, and as the name suggests it's cold. A dry route does not exist, so anyone entering the cave must wear a wet suit, preferably of the 7mm variety (thick). While 7mm wet suits are nice and warm, they are restrictive and cumbersome. AF and I entered the cave at the Flatland entrance, run by the Iowa Grotto. This weekend was their annual picnic in which they get together and socialize as well as go caving. We were not able to stay for the potluck that evening or join other trips in the area scheduled for the next day, but had a great time on our 4+ hour trip.
Crinoid bed

Good formations are everywhere and become commonplace and taken for granted down here

AF coming up on Big Bertha
 Our route was  a simple one, consisting of a nice stroll in the main passage, up, and then down stream of the Flatland entrance. I have done this route before but was amazed at the side passage our trip leader took us down at the turn around point. It's called Cascade Canyon. It's much smaller than the main passage, highly decorated, many degrees colder, and has crystal clear water. To get through the passage most of our bodies were submerged including our hands. After about fifteen minutes my feet and hands were numb. We turned back shortly after that, and by the time we reached the main passage's 50 deg + water it felt like a warm bath. AF and I are already planning trips back to cold water but with some improvements on gear. The Iowa Grotto is a friendly group and does trips every third Saturday throughout the year. If you have the desire to check out a National Historic Landmark look them up HERE . For good pics go HERE and for more info go HERE.  
Nice and clean

On our way to the Bear Crawl
 This Past Saturday was the MSS's annual picnic known as the Corn Feed. It was held at Forestville/ Mystery Cave State park in southern Minnesota. This is my fourth Corn Feed and would be my first trip going into Mystery Cave as a leader. I was a little nervous but got some help from Paul who is an excellent caver, leading trips down there for years. I really didn't have much to worry about, but I didn't want anything to go wrong on my first real trip. I was pretty much just leading my boys and wife, although I think it would have been much easier leading grown adults :-). Things went well as we explored areas that presented little danger. I avoided anything with deep crevices or pits, there are a lot of areas that could be life threatening in the event of a fall. Places like the Straddle Galleries, the Jump Off, The Incline and the Discovery Route will be off limits until they are a little older.
Inside the Bear Crawl, it goes on this way for a hundred feet or so

Lynn almost finished crawling, she doesn't really like caves 
 We ended up heading out to Dragon's Jaw Lake which was un-passable due to high water. From there we went to the Bear Crawl and The Labyrinth, finishing the day at Enigma Pit. We tried one more time at Dragon Jaw before exiting the cave. A siphon was set up to drain the water just enough to get in the passage without getting soaked. The water didn't come down enough so Super Y, Big D,  and Lynn will have to wait until next time.

Logic......It doesn't count if your finger is not in the glove. This was Big D's idea BTW
 The trip was a a success and a lot of fun. Big thanks goes out to Paul who helped our group avoid the tour group. After caving for some four plus hours, we all relaxed with a good meal and story telling around a campfire.

White Nose Syndrome was just detected in Mystery Cave, everyone's gear needed to be decontaminated upon exiting the cave. 

1 comment:

  1. Tell Big-D I enjoyed his jokes delivery very much. It's not the joke but the drop and his face dropped a bomb.