SPRING TAG 2013April 18, 2013
|ENTRANCE TO PRETTY WELL|
We walked down the short cut ridge to the pit entrance which was on a trail that bikers and runners take but the only rig point was across the trail where people could run right into the rope. We made sure at least one person was on the surface at all times with walkie talkies to communicate with the bottom party. Noboru and Tom were the first to go down and everything went great. I heard a boom sound from the surface but I brushed it off as a series of rocks that they might have slipped on. Time kept ticking by and I ended up going down to see if they were ok and so we can get things moving a bit more. The mouth of the cave looked a bit bigger than what I am use to but once I got on rop and over the lip to start my decent WWHHAAA!!!! the shaft opened up and the smooth slab rock with patches of moss gave this grey/bluish pit a very respectful presence. The decent gave me a chance to not only ponder the size but knowing that there are pits bigger than this in TAG gave me that welcome to TAG feeling I was expecting!!!!!
ON ROPE GOING DOWN NATURAL WELL
As I got down Laura said a family showed up with their traditional rock throwing event that seems to happen at natural well a lot. Thankfully she was at the top and had to explain that there are people at the bottom so don't throw rocks! geez. We went down into the canyon passage passing by a beautiful waterfall and smooth cream colored walls carved like they were stone monuments for a cathedral. We got to the crawl passage and I made the decision to turn shortly after we entered as I did not bring my knee pads. We started to climb out and I took my time ascending the rope thinking to myself how beautiful this pit is and how I am just hanging on a thread of rope with ascenders and a harness holding me, listening to every crackly sound my harness was making when I worked my way up to the top. I felt very alive at this point in time and it was a beautiful moment!
SLOWLY WORKING MY WAY BACK UP
We got out of the pit in good time, checked in with our grotto, and went back to the campsite to meet Colin and prepare for dinner. We cooked up dinner and sat around a fire talking to Colin (mainly Colin telling us some of his excellent stories) about his Mexico trips and other amazing caving trips he has done. We got to sleep early knowing it was going to drop down to 26 degrees which was going to make the following morning an interesting DAY 2.
We all got up quick and got into the car at around 730 AM, got coffee, breakfast, and made our way to the Cagles Chasm system. We spent most of the day at Cagles Chasm as we hiked up a small mountain and split up into smaller groups to rig the three pit caves ( Cagles Chasm 184 ft , Jeep side 110 ft, and Shallow 90 ft Pit). This allowed all of us to go from one cave to the next faster. We lined the pads, rigged the ropes, and descended into the chasms large gaping pit. The bottom was bigger than natural well and had another drop bolted which Noboru dropped that lead into a dome room.
NEVERSINK PIT AT NIGHT
BOTTOM OF WAR EAGLE PIT
We got to the bottom and found our way across the stream into decorated rooms, over breakdown, and following the large highway like tunnel passage upstream to where the ceiling gets lower and the water gets deeper.
SCULPTED CANYON PASSAGE
AT THE PLATFORM LOOKING UP
|NOBORU AND BOB TANDEM CLIMBING|
I had to climb up this one and once on rope, I was able to pendulum off the bench and out into the drop. This was the best climb I have ever had which allowed us to take in the beauty of the waterfall and the geology of this true natural wonder. Everyone seemed to have a special moment for themselves climbing Stevens Gap and it is one I will never forget. We de rigged and swiftly made it to the mountain side where Pretty Well was located.
ENTRANCE TO PRETTY WELL