Caving with kids near Cloudland Canyon SP, GA

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Caving with kids near Cloudland Canyon SP, GA

Postby danwern » Dec 27, 2013 10:37 am

I'm staying in yurts in Cloudland Canyon State Park, GA for a few days around New Year's Day. I am an experienced caver, and I've been introducing my oldest son (8 years old) to caving (loves it), which includes lots of discussions about cave conservation and safety. I was hoping to head into Sitton's Cave with a couple other grown-ups and my son, but it looks like Sitton's is closed for the winter because of WNS. Can anybody recommend other horizontal caves (other than Petty John's) in the area? I was thinking about Limrock, but there's rain in the forecast, and it's a bit more of a schlep to drive there from CCSP than I'd like. We had a great trip to Tumbling Rock Cave, AL a couple weeks ago (we made it to Tumbling Rock; climbed into Topless Pit on the way). Something at that general level would be great, though my son could definitely handle more crawling. Contributing to the next generation of responsible cavers...
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Re: Caving with kids near Cloudland Canyon SP, GA

Postby graveleye » Dec 27, 2013 11:32 am

Howards Waterfall is just down the mountain from there. Also nearby is Steward Springs and Talley Cave.

On the Lafayette side of the mountain is 4 Kings Cave and Ulla (which is likely sumped though).
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Re: Caving with kids near Cloudland Canyon SP, GA

Postby danwern » Dec 27, 2013 12:17 pm

Thanks, Kevin. Great suggestions. Howards Waterfall and/or 4 Kings look like the best option. Could you email me off-list with directions? If you have (or know of someone who has) maps of the caves, I'd love to see those, as well. My email address: wernerdad@gmail.com.
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Re: Caving with kids near Cloudland Canyon SP, GA

Postby danwern » Dec 27, 2013 2:37 pm

Also thinking about Steward Springs... just emailed the manager re access. Thanks again.
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Re: Caving with kids near Cloudland Canyon SP, GA

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Dec 27, 2013 4:38 pm

Another option would be Whiteside Cave, to get there you'd take I-59 north and then I-24 west. It is located about 3 miles before Lake Nickajack. It's a great cave for beginners and kiddos.
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Re: Caving with kids near Cloudland Canyon SP, GA

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Dec 27, 2013 4:39 pm

Or you could drop down into Trenton and then head over Sand Mountain and come down into Stevenson. There are some good beginner caves in the Big Coon such as Jess Elliott and Bluff River.
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Re: Caving with kids near Cloudland Canyon SP, GA

Postby danwern » Jan 5, 2014 10:05 am

Thanks, all, for the great suggestions. We ended up going to Steward Springs Cave. We turned around at the beginning of Idiot's Crawl. Overall, it was a really fun trip. One of the kids wasn't so keen on getting wet in the beginning, and he was even less pleased with the Compulsory Pool. By the time we were heading out, though, he was pushing through the wet passages without complaint (enjoying them, in fact). He ended up loving tight squeezes and in fact sought them out... crawling into almost every tight passage he could find. The kids loved seeing some bats and the nice formations, and the ongoing restoration work (looking really good!) gave me a good excuse to talk about conservation/responsible caving. The worst part was the short walk back to the car. The outside temperature had plummeted while we were in the cave. One of the kids ended up getting really cold in his wet cave clothes on the way back to the car (I may be partially to blame... I insisted on taking an "after" pic of everybody at the mouth of the cave, which added a few really cold minutes of standing around). By the time he got to the car, he was shivering uncontrollably and pretty upset. The grown-ups had to strip off his wet clothes and get him in dry clothes with the heat blasting in the car. He was, of course, fine (he has a tendency to be overly dramatic), but it was a lesson learned: when going to a wet cave during the winter with kids, stash dry clothes and a thermos of hot chocolate by the entrance... or save wet caves for the summer when with kids. If the car had been farter away, it wouldn't have been pretty.

I should add that Steward Springs is particularly kid friendly because for the most part it doesn't have any hazerdous drop-offs. Where we did scramble (or slime) up and down to/from dry passage, the consequences of a slip would have been a short and harmless slide. I had gone to Tumbling Rock Cave a couple weeks earlier with my oldest son. That's a really fun kids' trip, as well, but a fall from one of the breakdown climbs would have been more serious.

While I was there, I pushed a ways into the Dilemma Drain. which whetted my appetite to take on a dig project. Anybody intested in the working on the grim 200 foot connection between Steward Springs and Dilemma Pit?
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Re: Caving with kids near Cloudland Canyon SP, GA

Postby trogman » Jan 6, 2014 1:36 pm

danwern wrote:Thanks, all, for the great suggestions. We ended up going to Steward Springs Cave. We turned around at the beginning of Idiot's Crawl. Overall, it was a really fun trip. One of the kids wasn't so keen on getting wet in the beginning, and he was even less pleased with the Compulsory Pool. By the time we were heading out, though, he was pushing through the wet passages without complaint (enjoying them, in fact). He ended up loving tight squeezes and in fact sought them out... crawling into almost every tight passage he could find. The kids loved seeing some bats and the nice formations, and the ongoing restoration work (looking really good!) gave me a good excuse to talk about conservation/responsible caving. The worst part was the short walk back to the car. The outside temperature had plummeted while we were in the cave. One of the kids ended up getting really cold in his wet cave clothes on the way back to the car (I may be partially to blame... I insisted on taking an "after" pic of everybody at the mouth of the cave, which added a few really cold minutes of standing around). By the time he got to the car, he was shivering uncontrollably and pretty upset. The grown-ups had to strip off his wet clothes and get him in dry clothes with the heat blasting in the car. He was, of course, fine (he has a tendency to be overly dramatic), but it was a lesson learned: when going to a wet cave during the winter with kids, stash dry clothes and a thermos of hot chocolate by the entrance... or save wet caves for the summer when with kids. If the car had been farter away, it wouldn't have been pretty.

I should add that Steward Springs is particularly kid friendly because for the most part it doesn't have any hazerdous drop-offs. Where we did scramble (or slime) up and down to/from dry passage, the consequences of a slip would have been a short and harmless slide. I had gone to Tumbling Rock Cave a couple weeks earlier with my oldest son. That's a really fun kids' trip, as well, but a fall from one of the breakdown climbs would have been more serious.

While I was there, I pushed a ways into the Dilemma Drain. which whetted my appetite to take on a dig project. Anybody intested in the working on the grim 200 foot connection between Steward Springs and Dilemma Pit?


Glad you and your family enjoyed Steward. It can be both kid-friendly and very challenging, depending on how far you want to push it. The trip back to the waterfall is gruelling and exhausting.
That "after cave" photo should have been taken just before going back through Compulsory Pool on the way out. That way everyone would still be covered with mud. One saving grace of the pool near the entrance is that it washes a lot of the mud off on the way out.

Be sure you check with the SCCI and/or the property manager before you do any serious excavation on the Dilemma connection. It would be nice to bypass the pool, but having the gated entrance as the only access helps to preserve the beauty of the cave.

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Re: Caving with kids near Cloudland Canyon SP, GA

Postby danwern » Jan 7, 2014 10:58 pm

Good suggestion for the "after" photo.

As a recovering Northeast caver, grueling is what I know. I do hope to make an "adult" trip to the back of Steward Springs at some point. The kiddos definitely wouldn't be able to handle it until they've caved more.

I've emailed with Kenneth and Lin about the potential dig. They're on board if I'm enough of a masochist to take it on. That said, as I've given it more thought, I don't think a 200 foot wet belly crawl connection between Dilemma Pit and Steward Springs would achieve much other than combining the length of the two caves (unless there's other passage in the drain, which I doubt). Given the alternative, I'd much rather make the quick plunge through the Compulsory Pool. I have many more cave fantasies than time to live them. Alas, that's probably where this dig -- which wouldn't particularly advance caving and does carry the risk providing flashlight cavers a route to bypass the gate -- will remain.

Cave on.

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