November 12, 2013

Laura Oliver, Bob Lippold, Karlene Hanko, Brian Hansaker, Andrea Bolks, Steve Scoutaris, Jose Valdez, Hector Soreno, Nellie Colon, Sara Hughes, and Adam Haydock in Suicide Cave Indiana 
28 cavers answered the call to cave at Spring Mill State Park Saturday morning around 930 AM. Some slept in heated rooms and others braved the cold but we all collected ourselves that morning to embark on a journey into what some found to be an experience they will never forget!
I remember my first caving trip and how excited I was to be entering the underground, so it was a fantastic feeling to see the faces of new cavers light up inside the cave and how excited they were to be underground for the first time.  This journey consisted of breaking up into two groups and visiting Suicide Cave.  Suicide Cave has an interesting history behind it as someone got into a shoot out with a town official and ended up killing himself inside the cave because he feared he would have been caught.
We met up in good time to go through a safety briefing and a trip plan with a map of the cave to allow the participants to see what they will be going through.  We all got in our cars and drove to the landowners property, dropped off a grip of waivers, picked up the key, and left our cars to make sure we only had three cars at the parking spot for Suicide Cave.  My team consisted of 11 cavers including Steve Scoutaris, Laura Oliver, Bob Lippold, Jose valdez, Brian Hunsaker, Sara Hughes, Nellie colon, Andrea Bolks, Hector Soriano, Karlene Hanko, and Adam Haydock. 
We got to the cave entrance and proceeded to unlock the ridiculous lock that was jammed in the steel door.  We rammed, kicked, cussed, and slammed the gate until we were able to remove the lock from the gated entrance. One by one, cavers piled into the cavern room and we proceeded down the main passage to the slot canyon entrance hole. 

Formation room Suicide Cave
We had to crawl through mud and a little bit of small exposure to get to the first rally point and everyone was in good spirits. We located the first breakdown room and scaled the breakdown pile so we could continue down the main passage to the next breakdown room.
Andrea Bolks, Sara Hughs, and Brian Hansaker in Suicide Cave
The passage hallway consisted of some small climbing and scrambling over rock. At the top, we slid down a breakdown slide to more crawlway passage and onto another room that had a salamander walking up a formation. One by one we communicated to the person behind us of a feature to view as well as spot the person in front as they traversed across a canyon or climbed up exposure.
Nellie Colon in a crawlway passage going to the formation room in Suicide Cave
The team did fantastic communicating with one another, assisting each other, and having a freaking blast all the way to the formation room. We also made sure not to move or harm any living organisms inside the cave and took the harder route when it came avoiding water pools. After a few more crawls we finally made it the formation room! At last we are here.
Formation room Suicide Cave
As we came together with significant others and relaxed with friends, we turned off our lights which demonstrated how dark darkness can really be and how different it might have been when people went into caves with just candle lights on helmets.
The end of the formation room Suicide Cave
Formation room Suicide Cave
 I was able to take a couple pictures and not too long after the other team showed up. 
The other team approaching the formation room in Suicide Cave

The other team that showed up included, Phil Goldman, Molly Goldman, Dorian Goldman, Laura Sangaila, Steve Ghebhart, Heather McQueen, Quentin Shaw, Roul Pina, Gary,  Andy, Abby, David Meding, Al Goodcave.  We went under their group through the crawlway and back tracked all the way back to the slot canyon entrance.  We stopped for a few photo opportunities and to drop down into the slot canyon but we all traversed back to the entrance of the slot.

Slot Canyon Suicide Cave
Dropping down into the slot changed the environment of the cave as we are in a slot tube where water flows as a drainage system when the rain seeps through.  This change brings some new challenges for some people yet we continued to travel down until we were under the main passage that we just crossed over.  As we saw the other team above us, the slot canyon got so narrow that we decided to turn around and traverse back to the side passage to find the bear Wallows.  Andrea, Sara, Laura, Brian, and myself went into the upper slot crawlway to find the passage.  After a few minor mis orientations, we were able to located the bear wallows.
Andrea Bolks looking at the bear wallows and scratch marks above her in Suicide Cave
I find it amazing to see how bears were actually able to get into this section let alone find this section of the cave 15,000 years ago.  There must have been an entrance but I do not see any breakdown piles or other indications where bears could have been able to find this. 
After coming back down and out of the slot canyon passage we made came to the entrance and exited the cave.  It was almost as hard to close the gate as it was to open it but after a few slams the gate was closed and we left the property.  We made it back to the state park just in time to celebrate in typical Chicago Windy City Grotto Caver cheer with 24 Hamburgers, 20 Hot dogs, 16 Veggie burgers, over 1.5 gallons of Chili, 2 pounds of Brussel spouts, 2 pounds of green beans, 10 bundles of firewood, and Over 1 liter of Larceny Bourbon.  We stayed up late but made sure we got a good night sleep as Fredrickburg cave was going to be quite different than the cave we were in today.
out of Suicide Cave just in time for dinner...YES!!!!

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