by Joedy Klimas
Our January Grotto trip started out with six but ended with three cavers, Rita and Joedy Klimas and Mary Jo Lehman and Mary Jo's fiancÚ Dale who didn't cave. The cabins were cold! The outside temperature was 10║F at night. Having brought wood with me, I started fires in the wood stove in each cabin and got them toasty. Cabin 2, where Rita and I were staying, had a resident mouse. He was pretty brave and completely disregarded me in his wanderings throughout the cabin. I promptly devised a humane way to capture him and took him way up the road past the cabins and let him loose. At least he didn't make it back to the cabin for the next two days. That evening some other cavers showed up at Thorn Spring Park. I went on a mission to find a map of Hamilton (since I had forgotten mine) and successfully bummed a copy from another group. The next day around 10:00 am, Rita, Mary Jo and I climbed up the hill to Hamilton Cave. It was a beautiful day, clear, crisp, and very cold. There were already five vehicles of cavers on the hill in Trout and New Trout caves. We got all the way to the canyon in Hamilton where I chickened out and requested we try another way. Rita had already gone through the canyon and promptly chastised me for making her come back through it again. Our goal was the Air Blower. We backtracked and tried to go another route but wore ourselves out. Coming back we met a Maryland caver with his son who were going to attempt to get to the Air Blower also. We gave them directions to the Air Blower through the canyon and left the cave.
You really need to flag your way through Hamilton Cave, as it is quite a maze. I was using the usual surveyor's tape but the fellow from Maryland had another idea, tongue depressor sticks with reflective tape (which can be bought at Home Depot in the paint section) stuck on one end. The self-sticking tape comes in one-inch wide rolls. Instead of having to almost walk up on your flagging tape to find it, these reflector sticks could be seen from a good 100 feet away. They really stood out. I promptly went home and bought some tape and tongue depressors and am now the proud owner of a box of 100 markers. I will always have some flagging tape in my pack, but these markers will be there too. Don't go caving without them. They are great! On the way down the mountain from the caves we met yet another group climbing up the hill going to Hamilton Cave. Their leader asked if anyone had a map of Hamilton. To his amazement, I unzipped my coveralls, pulled out the map, which had been given to me and "passed it on." He was completely flabbergasted with his good fortune and very thankful. We even showed him how to get to the Air Blower. Hope they had better luck with the canyon than I did.
Please refer to our web page www.tidewatergrotto.cjb.net section "Caving Calendar" for upcoming event details. Our current future events include Spring VAR (April 29 - May 1st) and the NSS Convention (July 4-8).
From the Editor, that's all for this Ooze folks, cave softly!
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