Your State's Toughest Cave

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Postby tagcaving » Feb 15, 2007 4:53 pm

bill fish wrote:Hi

Ughhh....for florida....the VERY back of warrens cave (owned by the NSS!) is a pretty rough trip.....and if you have ever been to the pit....considered the "old" back of the cave....you've only gone about half way hardness wise...

Warrens is a very comfortable cave....as long as you arent moving....

Blll


I second this for Bill, Paul Aughey led a trip to end of Warrens. I will never forget the 600 foot long body sized tube you had to go through. You could not turn around till you got to end and there were 3 or 4 squeezes, with each getting progressively tighter. Florida limestone is full of razor sharp pieces of fossil marine shells so you get ripped to shreds going through. The cave temperature is sweltering so you don't want to wear too much. It was and still is a horror. A lot of it had to be dug out from what I understand.
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Postby bill fish » Feb 16, 2007 8:01 am

I second this for Bill, Paul Aughey led a trip to end of Warrens. I will never forget the 600 foot long body sized tube you had to go through. You could not turn around till you got to end and there were 3 or 4 squeezes, with each getting progressively tighter. Florida limestone is full of razor sharp pieces of fossil marine shells so you get ripped to shreds going through. The cave temperature is sweltering so you don't want to wear too much. It was and still is a horror. A lot of it had to be dug out from
what I understand.


......

Are you talking the 600 foot past the "PIT" that leads to back part of the cave?

turn around? heck....you can rarely lay flat or sit up for that matter!

If so you are right...that part is a pain, its a roller coast of squeezes and awkward spots..one right after another....there might only be a handful of "true squeezes" but there must be another dozen or two near squeezes and awkward spots...

When they named that stretch agony avenue....they sure got it right....and of course after that is the first big stand up/walking passage...also aptly named....the thank god room.....i got the impression that it wasnt so much dug out so much as "enlarged" in a few key spots...

And the hundreds of feet at the begining of cave are pretty bad going in as well....just kinda a pain in the butt going in....but gawd coming out after going to the back they are just murder...when will it ever end....pushing your pack a foot forward....then wiggling a foot forward...repeating hundreds of times...and those little hills dont help any either!

If that cave was really cold/wet or muddy it would probably be a world class horror hole....

And for those not familiar with warrens....its very warm high 70's, a near hundred percent humidity...and lots of sand everywhere to get into everything and grind up flesh in all the wrong spots...and even though in florida...besides the entrance there taint no water to be found...not even a drip somewhere...its probably a good test cave in terms of heat tolerance and keeping hydrated if you are heading to lech at some point

So, whenever you are moving at any pace....you get hot as heck...and because of the high humidity you become drenched in sweat....which helps the sand stick to everything to boot...

the upside of the heat is you can stop and rest for LONG periods of time without getting chilled....and often there is some sand, which is a bit nicer than hard rock...but of course if you arent moving you arent getting in or out either...

the other upside is the mostly very small passage is composed of very white limestone....so you weakest/smallest cave light is more than enough...I think ran something like a 3 volt, .15 amp bulb light in there...

The gainesville/FSS website has a few good trip reports of warrens with pics too..they make for a good read

Lest I scare anyone off.....the cave can be very pleasant and fun if you take it easy...and unless you are a REALLY big boned person you can make it to the very back and out....it just might be a long trip...but hey the bitching rights are probably worth it!

Blll
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Postby tagcaving » Feb 16, 2007 8:23 am

Yeah, that's right, it was named agony avenue. Paul took us to the very very end where it opened up into large passage. Lots of air and then everything died in breakdown and digs. Jeff Dilcher of TAG-NET was on the trip and it caused him to revaluate his caving career. The toughest dry cave trip in Florida, no doubt, to the bitter end and out.
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Postby bill fish » Feb 16, 2007 8:52 am

Jeff Dilcher of TAG-NET was on the trip and it caused him to revaluate his caving career.

Thats kinda funny to hear....

Reevaluate in what way? Caving period? Or to heck with "hard" caving....or tight caving? or Just warrens....

If you read the FSS trip reports....you get more than one person saying "I aint ever going in warrens again!"

And its certainly on of the caves that you REALLY need to trust the "experts" when they tell you what to wear/bring etc etc...

It really does require a rather unique and probably not very common caving mode to make a trip much more tolerable/fun...

Show up with what you usually use/wear and head to back and it aint gonna be pretty! And I saw a couple folks do just that...

I hate to imagine if someone had a claustrophobia attack in the back...or heaven forbid someone died back there...youd have to cut em up into SMALL pack sized pieces to get the body out...and I am NOT kidding here

And like you said...some of the nicest passage is in the back..and some really nice fossils and chert back there as well...

And the air back there....If I understood the story/geology....most of know warrens is under a small hill..and the stuff near the very back is in/near a low area/very old sinkhole/collapse area...and heading towards a much larger hill....if "old" warrens contains 4 miles or so of passage....there may well be another 10 to 20 to be found if you can follow the air!

Ughhh that would be horrible thing to survey..heck if all you found out there was walking size "borehole"....it would probably be many many years before it was all found/surveyed...

but the air...the call of the air...the inhumanity of it all!

Blll
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Postby graveleye » Feb 16, 2007 9:31 am

After reading this trip report, I will probably never be dragging my old behind into Warrens. Check this out:

1. What the hell was I thinking!?
This was not fun. Why was I doing this? I realized that the only reason I went to the back was to say that I've been there. That's stupid. Caving should be enjoyable at some level. You should find some pleasure from your sport. Caving can be challenging and strenuous, but it should still be fun. No matter how tired I've been in the past, I still enjoyed being underground. Not this time. All I wanted to do was get OUT. My knees were sore to the touch and I had 4 hours of crawling to look forward to. I hated every minute of this trip. Warrens sucks.

2. Warren is not a cave.
I don't consider Warren a cave anymore. It is merely a collection of interconnected voids in the earth. That might sound like a cave, but it's not. It's just a bunch of random small spaces in the earth that happen to be joined together. I came to this enlightened discovery in a 14" high Hawthorn crawlway. Much of Warren lies at the clay/limestone boundary. I thought to myself, "I'm not in limestone anymore, I'm in a clay passage. This is not a cave, this is a void." Caves are supposed to be made out of rock. Warrens sucks.

3. Warrens sucks.

(1) I'm not having fun, (2) I'm not really in a cave, and (3) it's a sucky experience, therefore I have forever sworn off trips to Warrens. I shall no longer accompany any of you to this alleged cave. Thanks, but don't ask.


Full report with pictures.
:rofl:
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Postby bill fish » Feb 16, 2007 10:08 am

Yeah Graveleye....

THATS the trip report I was thinking about....

Thats the worst part of the cave....coming out....you are so tired, bruised, cut, rubbed raw by sand, sore, dehydrated etc etc....

And when you are coming out you have to FORCE yourself to move....but its SO nice and pleasant to just LAY there and NOT move...and it will be a long time before you get cold....so you just lay and lay and lay...

Unlike wet/muddy/cold caves....where after a short while you get cold and moving makes you feel better....that just doesnt happen in warrens..it tricks you in dragging out the misery longer and longer and longer...

Its certainly a cavers cave!

Blll
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Postby Phil Winkler » Feb 16, 2007 10:42 am

That's a great trip report and I really regret never having the chance to do Warren's (yeah, right!).

The FSS website is superb. I particularly liked their listing of all officers going way, way back. I remember caving with many of those folks back in 1971-1972 when FROG began. Paul Smith, Frank, etc.

Ever hear how the Pool of the Naked Frogs in Climax got named? That day was really when the Carta Valley crew showed us what fun cave swimming could be. :D
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Postby graveleye » Feb 16, 2007 10:58 am

There is a good article in the Georgia Underground about Climax that mentions the Pool of Naked Frogs.. I imagine a little skinny dipping might have been involved in its naming :big grin:
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Postby Phil Winkler » Feb 16, 2007 11:12 am

Skinny dipping and chicken fights, too: girls on the guys' shoulders. There are pictures somewhere, but this was a long time ago.
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Postby Roppelcaver » Feb 16, 2007 11:28 am

Clap Canyon, Roppel Cave (Mammoth Cave)...

There a lot of tough trips in Roppel, although I never would consider these "toughest" by many metrics. The frontiers of Roppel can be far in (seven hours), require lots of work (crawlways, vertical pitches, lots of water), and be long (28-30 hour range).

I have been to most of Roppel Cave. I think the hardest place to reach in Roppel Cave is the far end of Clap Canyon, a place no one has visited since 1991.

Like most of Roppel Cave, the trip begins with lots of walking -- probably 3 miles that you can traverse in about 3-4 hours. Finally, you reach a major junction -- a broad crawlway floored with coarse sand leads off to the east.

(lest you wonder too much, the name "Clap Canyon" comes from the survey letter used -- "VD", which was the next one in the series...)

Clap Canyon is somewhat over 3500 feet long, is hardly a canyon, andcan take 7 hours to traverse, one way. It has seen 5 survey trips, the last one being my last trip back there. I failed. While I began my exit (it took us 10 hours to get there), Pete Crecelius and Rick Olson soldiered on surveying in what was now a narrow canyon. They were routed after 20 stations or so. Pete checked ahead about 300 feet and left a scalloped elliptical tube with a strong breeze blowing through.

What makes this place so damn hard?

First, you start out a 3 miles from the entrance wet up to your waist. Then the fun begins.

The first half of Clap Canyon is pretty normal cave (for Roppel), although mostly crawling. There is even a short stretch of very narrow walking! It goes on and on and on.

Finally, the passage morphs.

First, it becomes what can be best described as a series of small potholes linked by tight squeezes. This goes on for a couple hundred feet, then you go through a spiral corkscrew into lower-level belly crawl. This crawl is unique. It appears that long ago flood waters scoured out a small channel in a clay-filled, ancient passage. This old passage is large (10x10?), but the washed out space is small (1x4). All the surfaces -- walls, ceiling, floor -- seems to be this old clay. Tacky clay. As you inch through, everything on your person becomes encased in this sticky clay to the point where your kneepads droop like leaden weights and your pack grows like a snowball being rolled around in wet snow. You can't drag yourself along; you have to lift yourself and your gear off the floor foot by foot. Traveling is exhausting. This goes on for just 200 feet, but it seems like forever.

On one trip, one person we had along in this stretch was whipped was in lead. He checked ahead and reported that "it still went". Famous last words.

The next trip found this to be an illusion. The tacky passage ended in a mud wall! If we had known this, the trip would have never gone, so maybe this was a blessing in disguise. A small slot could be peered through to see larger space, so they dug for two hours and finally opened a very tight opening (Diode Dig). They surveyed 200 feet (in more crawl, but a little bigger, the surfaces still tacky clay) to another tight spot, but it was passable and it opened up beyond, so they flapped back toward the sruface.

Turns out that The Diode Dig was a one-way proposition. You could not get back through as easily as it let you in. So out came the trowel, and two more hours of digging got the last of them through. It was scary wondering how long it would take to dig your way out. They stumbled out after 27 hours and vowed to never return.

This next section was the stretch my party surveyed. It opens to a canyon that eventually ends in a blank wall. More tacky clay. At that point, you climb up to a small crawl that has been clean-washed by scouring floods. Pete Crecelius crawled 100 feet in this passage and left it. This is how it remains to this day. He says it seems that he was close... to something. It was just a feeling. To what, he could not tell us.

So what is the big deal with this passage?

We would have written the thing off years ago, but it is one of the lone fingers of Roppel Cave that penetrates far to the easte into the main body of Eudora Ridge. There should be a lot of cave out there. The passage is clearly a route for water during significant flood events from times past. The evidence for high pressure flow is evident everywhere. It had to come from somewhere. Big Cave? We hope so. It certainly seems possible.

And, there is the air. This passage blows a lot of air, and as the only known passage that comes from the east, the air is intruguing. Clap Canyon appears that it could be one of the "cross-over" passages to the next drainage (these "cross-overs" link disparate sections of the drainages in the area and are persistent, even though uncommon).

Will I go back? Maybe, but I doubt it. On that trip which I aborted (left early), I ended up with cramps in both legs at the same time, which was somewhat painful and impossible to relieve in the confined quarters. In am convinced it had something to do with a car with no heat in near zero temperatures, but I don't know for sure. But, I know my lankiness is not an advantage here.

I do fondly recall the long walk on that last trip out from Clap Canyon through the long, echoey galleries. It was as if no time passed. I just walked and walked, pondering the solitude and listening to the sounds of water lapping in the distance. I had no sense of how fast I was going; it was just a sequence of moments frozen in time. I was one with the cave and I reveled in the experience. When I reached the surface, I had been underground 20 hours, the last 10 were by myself.

I think Pete and Rick, upon exiting, said they also would never return, even though they had compressed the travel to 7 hours with a super-human effort. Pete acknowledged it was a great lead, but he lived to far away (Idaho).

Clap Canyon still awaits a return, of course. Someone will go back. One of the big challenges is carrying enough water -- a tough order in a small passage. All the trips have resulted in the party getting dangerously dehydrated (I am sure that must have contributed to my demise).

Is this the state of Kentucky's toughest trip? I would not make that claim as there are a lot of really hard trips to be had and hard trips go all the time in many of the caves in the area. But, this particularly lead seems to be pretty damn hard, even compared to everything else. On one hand, we want to see where it goes. On the other, we also say -- "What if it does go? What are we going to do then?" Good question. The trips will then be even harder.

Someone else will have to find that answer. But, as we say in Roppel Cave, "... and the wind howled."

That it does.
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Postby Buford Pruitt » Feb 16, 2007 2:21 pm

This is a GREAT thread! Many heartfelt thanks to Jeff, Andy etc for your honest admissions. I’ll get to mine soon enuf.

For 5 decades we Florida cavers have known that Warrens is a great cave, and now some undeniably tough TAG cavers come along and it whips ‘em and they admit it. Now that’s true and honest grit! I have been caving with Andy, and he’s good, as good as ALMOST any caver I’ve caved with (he’s too young to be as good as ANY caver I’ve caved with). I have never caved with young Jeff, but I hear he’s pretty good, too, and I certainly don’t doubt it. TAG cavers are tough, even their men (you have heard of TWAT, haven’t you? TAG Women Are Tough – Go Mo! I luv ya! Can I be the Token Penis on the next trip?)

Now, howdja like ta hear a livelong Florida caver’s perspective of Paul’s Palsys? Well, I’ll tell you anyway. But first let me ROTFALMAO for awhile.

Warrens Cave was a frat/sorority/vandal/party hangout for years until Bill Oldacre came along. He and owner Mr. Cox struck a bargain and the cave was gated by the FSS after a frat dude took his sorority girlfriend across the Historic Section’s upper level Suicide Pass and didn’t make it. She fell on top of him and went on to have kids and a life, and he has spent his subsequent life in bed paralyzed from the neck down. Even the Historic Section has real dangers for the spelunker. Bill’s accomplishments were rewarded with the SCCi’s very first Stewardship Award, and he continues to manage the property for the NSS to this day. Thank you, Bill – you are the real hero of this story. :banana:

Anyway, for many years only the Historic Section was known. It ranges up to 60ft in height and 8 or 10 ft across, has a few side passages that spelunkers think are fine places for campfires and headaches. It has some wonderful climb-ups and –downs and –acrosses for orangs like me. This few-hundred-foot section of the cave ends at the Cashew Squeeze and the Wind Tunnel where the wind comes howling out during dropping barometric pressures. I forget who chiseled it open (Bill O?), but beyond lay 4+ miles of additional passage.

The Cashew Squeeze is only about 40 or 50 ft long, but in those days it was a corkscrew of a nasty passage. You literally had to spiral your way through sharp, recently knapped chert nodules imbedded in the limestone – not your friendly, crumbly, black rounded garden variety TAG chert, but instead angular razor rock suitable for making arrowheads and butchering deer. It took most people 10 – 15 minutes to get through it their first 10 or 20 times. Phil W mentioned Paul Smith – I once saw Paul go though it in less than a minute! Yow! Sometime later Bill O was afraid that if an unconscious person had to be rescued from the far side, the victim’s collarbone and a femur would have to be deliberately broken to get him through the Cashew. Ouch! So Bill sledged his way slowly through the Cashew over the years and now a newbie can negotiate it in a minute or so. I have never been through a TAG or Mexican squeeze that was as hard as the original Cashew.

Gerald Moni, one of TAG’s new cavers, was very active in the exploration and survey of the booty beyond the Cashew back in the 1960s, and even got a bypass named after himself – Moni’s Misery. Some guys have all the luck! :doh:

Once past the Cashew you monkey your way though a minor maze of more joint-controlled passages covered with black goethite that eventually lead to the Second Squeeze, which isn’t much of a squeeze and not worthy of further discussion. Then comes the endless sand-floored passages (Sand Room etc) that comprise a true maze and go on and on, plus the “voids” in the upper level Eocene-aged phosphatic sandy clay Hawthorne Formation that lies just above the limestone. Before Bill enlarged the Cashew, we called it the “longest and hardest squeeze leading to a major cave in the US.” But our TAG brethren and sistren would just politely smile and yawn. All we Floridians could do was sulk. :mad2:

So for the next several decades the Pit was essentially the back of the cave. Then the 600ft long Agony Avenue was discovered. More beautifully pure, knapping quality chert with very few inclusions had to be busted to press forward. Keith Silas and I were led through that passage by Bob Nabell, the fellow who doggedly persevered in the successful effort to map Warrens (and deserves the Lew Bicking Award for his efforts to map that cave, IMO). Keith and I can proudly claim that we have surveyed passage beyond the Thank God Room with Bob. Ours may have been only the third or fourth round trip though the Agony.

This was before it became known as Agony Avenue. We had to attach our packs to our boots and hope to god that the last person in wouldn’t get his pack hung up. We cracked jokes about corking. In my pack was a gallon of water, and that water disappeared within a few minutes of reaching the Thank God Room. There was a half-full gallon jug of water previously placed in the TG Room for emergencies, but after smelling it we decided that we weren’t having an emergency just yet.

For years after I would tell my TAG friends about the AA, and again they would smile politely. :yawn:

Heh, heh, heh, revenge is a dish best served cold. Paul, all us long-suffering Florida cavers owe you a big one, buddy! If I’m around and you want a beer, your money’s no good. :kiss:

Just ahead of us three were Frank Spirek and two other young bucks whose names I forget. They mapped a lot more that day than the three of us did. Bob was a real sport to put up with Keith and me – he ought to get some kind of an award for that, too. :bow:

I have been back to my beloved Warrens Cave many times since, including the pit a time or two, but I will never go through Agony Avenue again. TAG’s Byers Cave is a piece of cake comparatively, unless there’s some stuff in there y’all know about that I can’t even imagine.

So if any others are naive enough to want to go for it, there is more booty back there. And laugh at me or get pompous if you want, but if you go, please take the following advice seriously:

Eat three good meals the day before and a hearty breakfast the day of. Take high energy food with you. Drink a gallon of water on your way to the pit, another gallon from the pit to the entrance, and a third gallon in the Thank God Room and beyond. Water is most important. Leave behind some of your water in the emergency jug if you have any left over. Drink absolutely no ethanol for at least one day prior to your expedition. Leave your helmet at the entrance to Agony Avenue and pick it up on your way out – you won’t need it in the Agony and it will hinder your movements through it. Take only mini-mags for backup lighting – they are small and lightweight. Do not take a pack – if items won’t fit into your pockets then don’t take them at all (except for the water). Be trim and healthy and in excellent physical and mental shape, and go with no more than two others of like kind (three if they’re like Adam Scherer, Cory Bresalier, Sullivan Beck or Eric Amsbury). Do not take camera equipment on your first trip. And take your survey instruments because very few people who have been there will ever go back there again!

But if you wanna hear a really tough story about connecting two underwater caves together, get Woody Jasper to relate his connection of Telford Spring Cave and Luraville Cave. :yikes:

Oh, and there’s no such thing as Luminary Pit, Andy. I know. I’ve spent three days on three separate vacations looking for it, and it just isn’t there. It isn’t. I don’t care what anybody says, Luminary Pit is a BIG LIE! :excuseme:
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Postby wendy » Feb 16, 2007 2:32 pm

graveleye wrote:After reading this trip report, I will probably never be dragging my old behind into Warrens. :rofl:


Don't worry I'll take you and you'll like it, although we just won't go past the Sand Room. That's as far as I go, for now. Maybe one of these days I'll make it to the back.

Also this is one of the few Florida Caves with any vertical, although you can free climb it on belay. You can use an 8 to get in the first drop.
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Postby bill fish » Feb 16, 2007 4:42 pm

We would have written the thing off years ago, but it is one of the lone fingers of Roppel Cave that penetrates far to the easte into the main body of Eudora Ridge. There should be a lot of cave out there. The passage is clearly a route for water during significant flood events from times past. The evidence for high pressure flow is evident everywhere. It had to come from somewhere. Big Cave? We hope so. It certainly seems possible.

And, there is the air. This passage blows a lot of air, and as the only known passage that comes from the east, the air is intruguing. Clap Canyon appears that it could be one of the "cross-over" passages to the next drainage (these "cross-overs" link disparate sections of the drainages in the area and are persistent, even though uncommon).

Roppel caver...

That is very interesting....so you have only one real lead that heads into an adjacent ridge that should have alot of cave AND still no one seems to want to go back...or even go there for the first time?

Its one thing to quite going to the bitter end because you've done it too many times....or it really has no promise of going and you've got better leads to work on....or its just a really scary/dangerous place cave wise....

But to have a promising lead with lots of potential AND STILL few go there rarely....I guess thats a TRUE sign of a horrible trip....

Blll
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Postby bill fish » Feb 16, 2007 5:05 pm

But, this particularly lead seems to be pretty damn hard, even compared to everything else. On one hand, we want to see where it goes. On the other, we also say -- "What if it does go? What are we going to do then?" Good question. The trips will then be even harder.


Yeah....some kinda feel that way about the leads in the back of warrens..and I am sure others feel that way about distant leads in other caves...

Reminds me of a short Sci Fi story I read decades ago...astronauts going to pluto...the last major place in the solar system...and way past the "glory days" of yesteryear....and of course the trip was ungodly long hard and depressing...and the guys werent even going for fun, fame or fortune....mainly because they were astronauts and thats what they did for a living...

And the narrator is just so glad to arrive so they can check this gawd forsaken planet off and never come back nor make anyone else suffer as well..

So, they get there and find LIFE !...... something that looks like a horseshoe crab and apparently works on somekind of bio/mechanical/electrical/metal/superconducting principle...because Pluto is so damn cold and dark...and its the only place something like life has been found in the solar system...

Well....some of the crew is estatic about the find.....he just gets even more depressed because he realizes even more folks will have to RETURN to pluto....maybe even him....

Blll
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Postby Roppelcaver » Feb 16, 2007 6:36 pm

Clap Canyon...

Why not go back?

Yes, it is hard, but we have not gotten around to it. We have talked about it, but that is it. Roppel has the advantage of lots of interesting leads in many different places, so they have received the focus.

Roppel has many places also that have not seen visitation in many years -- one good lead has not seen a return since 1976! Classic big cave problem -- too much cave, people go away, and knowledge is lost. Whole sections of the cave have this problem where folks would be hard pressed to find their way.

But, Clap Canyon is still damn hard.
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