Monday, October 26, 2020

Lechuguilla Cave 150th Mile Online Symposium - November 14th & 15th

I'm really excited about this event!  This is a two day event to celebrate the exploration and science of Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico.  Please note you MUST register for this event and note that all times listed below are in US MOUNTAIN Time (not EST).  Lastly, there is an event planned next summer at the 2021 convention to discuss this as well.  Hope you can make any or all of these!   

Monday, October 5, 2020

Trip Report - 9/11-9/13/2020 Bowman’s Pit; Camp re-charge & Walden Room

 Abigail Mack, Phillip Francis, Darryl Marsh, Brian Devine (reporting)

We had some divergence from the planned rendezvous, i.e. meeting at the landowners ready to salvage last light for the hike to the cave, and ultimately had just left the car after 9pm. Then, the orienteering along the dark path got scrambled and we were pretty quickly reduced to looping back to the car as last known point once we had found Buck Creek and established our directional sense again.  It was only 12:30 before Brian started to drop Bowman’s, and Phil was last off rope at 00:50 when we started out to camp. We would feel the ripple effects of this late start as our objectives got compromised, but would do it all over again. The revisit at the car definitely gave a pretext to guzzle more water against the soupy, August heat.

We arrived at camp at 04:30am and deployed to the various, sandy flat spots at MZ8’s camping footprint & promptly got some sleep. There was no real push to collectivize a wake-up time, and personally I figured I’d let my body dictate when I’d feel recharged. Unfortunately the upshot of the variance in wake-ups was a departure time at 12:35, initially to visit The Source (=vestigial remains of the downcutting waterway that formed local passage) to fill up our water containers and dump liquid waste. The refill went great, and an idea I’d had to bring a length of garden hose and siphon into containers got them absolutely full of undisturbed water, which we then treated with iodine. By 2:30pm we grabbed the bags we had shed while refilling, stashed the water for later reversion to camp, and by 4pm were up in MT survey effectively above The Source, en route to the Walden Room.

Our objectives there were to splinter the four of us into a bolting and a digging twosome, and (respectively) deal with beckoning passage up the north wall & groom a window in a ceiling shale layer to get up and through. With a 5pm Walden Room arrival however, and remembering how wobbly our decision-making became in last night’s wee-hours camp approach, we scaled back our objectives considerably. My personal recall of the bolting objective was actually an amalgam of 2 passages, and this amalgam drove my planning. Yet the actual climb projected as more involved and not particularly enticing as a breakout possibility. We did some scouting, explored a bit, and decided to devote energy reserves to falling back to camp and the water transport that would require.

We made it back to camp by 8:30pm with enough water cached to fill most of two big ‘cubes’, a smaller Platypus, and several bottles amongst us. I finished off the remnants of that morning’s breakfast and enjoyed a nice wind-down to lay out the sleeping gear, steam off some dampness in my suit, and prep to bed down. The 2nd night’s sleep afforded me some bonus sleep, since I think I awoke around 6 & fell back asleep for a nap before the alarm. At 9:15am, we left camp in a condition of very high readiness and organization, with recharged water, stove fuel, desiccant, supplemental gear, and a current inventory. The trip out, like the trip in, was pretty uneventful except I, as last exiting caver, had to descend & re-ascend the pit to unhitch a snag right when it looked like the only thing left was to coil rope.