January 08, 2014

Trapper cave formation room with evidence of an ancient water level.

After looking at the weather reports a few times and watching people back out of this trip, we decided to keep our plans and go down to Indiana for a weekend of cold weather caving fun and one hell of a drive back home.   We all piled in Phil’s 4x4 truck so we can sit 7 people comfortably in the truck.  We were all catching up with sleep until we got to Bedford.   Brian came down separately in his car and Michael Angelo and his wife Zelda got a room the night before in Bedford.   We met at the usual meet up location and proceeded to the landowners property where we would find the entrance to Trapper Cave tucked under a small bluff a quarter of a mile behind the landowners property.  This cave appears to have a couple entrances but only one seemed to be accessible to us.  We worked our way over to the entrance and Michael Angelo told me that he cant make it inside of the cave due to his back problems so him and Zelda returned to the hotel .  We worked our way down the small breakdown pile and into the water passage where we proceeded to crawl 150 ft to a place where we could stand up and get our bearings. 
Trapper cave typical stream passage
The stream passage was a solid looking tunnel with gravel and sand for a bottom.  This was a bit different than the traditional mud banked bottom passage that we have been in previously.  Reminded me of...., just a little of...., Cueva Los Chorros in Puerto Rico except for the boas, 65 degree water, 75 degree cave temp and razor rock art that the water carved out in Los Chorros.  Once we started down the water passage, we started to meander left and right, passing small waterfalls along the way noticing cave critters as we proceeded deeper into the system.  I noticed a hole in the wall that took us up to this.
mid level passage Trapper Cave
This Passage is called the old upper passage and was the river passage until the lower passage was made waaaayy back when.  It appears to me that this lower stream passage we were in might have been made in the past ice age and before but since this cave is near Fredricksburg cave, I am assuming that these two caves were developed under similar circumstances.  The dried out rotten dolomite passage we found our selves in might be an ancient passage as the floor showed signed of sand and silt deposit leading me to believe a stream was present here at one point.. 

Frog inside Trapper Cave Indiana
We took a break here while some people went to the end of the passage in one direction to see what was around the St. Louis Limestone corner.  Once everyone came back, we continued down into the formation room.  This room had some very interesting artifacts. There were helicmite's and Helictite's on shelves over our heads along with another interesting feature that still has been pondering what it is exactly.  Right before ourselves is a formation a column of sorts that appears to be reconnected.  Furthermore 2 shelf stone tables on the formation below, might show evidence where an old waterline use to be.  The formation is something I have never seen before and peaks my interest to understand how this was actually formed. I have more pics on my flickr account.

Trapper Cave Formation Room
We continued down to the 45 ft domes that were next to each other and made it to the other end of the upper passage. We took another break and shortly after that, we proceeded into the maze and into the maze dome room, where the passage got interesting.  There was a dome to climb into that had a hole in the ground which lead to another dome.  This dome took me to a climb where you had an option to go in three different directions.  I went in a direction that lead back around into a climb connection that was near the old upper passage which also connected to the lower stream passage.  After some small exposure climbing around the pits we came to a dome where you could continue to climb up into the top level passage.  This was like a freakin playground for cavers!!!  It reminded me of the passages in Ellison s cave but a bit smaller.  I continued on to where I came to a slot canyon.  This slot canyon had clear water but super fine mud and I can only imagine how long this water must have been sitting here for.
Trapper Cave Slot Canyon in level 3 passage
Once we got through the slot canyon I came back around to get everyone else and we all proceeded through the slot canyon to the waterfall room.  The water passage was a lot of fun, the maze was a playground, the slot was well defined and sharpened, but the waterfall dome room was the cats meow. There was a nice canyon passage that lead to a 15ft. waterfall.  Once I was able to climb the waterfall I placed a light on the second waterfall and we were open for business like a freakin show cave.

Trapper Cave waterfall room
The water was lit up from the first waterfall and from the second waterfall which brought a beautiful perspective to this passage.  Some attempted to climb up but we mainly enjoyed the waterfalls shimmering beauty and pondered the obvious passage that was above the falls.  Next time I come back I want to see if that upper passage can be reached.
Double waterfall drop in the waterfall Room Trapper Cave
We started to head out of the cave and made it to the bathtub swim for a brief paddle across the warm 54 degree waters of Trapper Cave. Options are to either get wet from the top down or go back around, so everyone decided to thrust through the water and bolt out of the cave without any issues.  We got out of the cave and although it was cold, It could have been a lot worse. Regardless we started changing into dry clothes and made it back to the car for a space heater, beer, and festive laughs that we continued to enjoy through the night.  Unfortunately the next day we woke up and decided to head back due to the rain and snow, we made the right decision to go back when we did!  I got word later on that the caves experienced high water BUT the spotlight goes to the ride back...oh yes, the ride back home. more like an epic journey through "the taste of the north pole" leading our way back to Chiberia.   Every stop light going north went from rain, to sleet, to thick sleet, than heavy wet snow, to snow, to blowing tundra blizzard FML snow.  What a change in the weather.  We were getting reports of highways closed so we diverted our route and just made it through the lane closures as we passed by them.  While driving an average of 30 miles per hour for 230 miles, we witnessed over 10 semi trucks that were flipped over, and multiple cars that slid into the ditch.  At one time we even felt our truck being blown off the road and into the ditch but Phil and his brown 4x4 "Spirit Of Mount Prospect" prevailed!  9 hours later The Intrepid cavers make it back to Chicago safe and sound.  Along the way we had a new friend and a companion, she was a snow bitch named Matilda.  She was a strong snow woman but unfortunately after 5 minutes on the highway on the bow of the Spirit of Mount Prospects hood, she disintegrated before our very eyes  back into the winter wonderland where she came from like the dude from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade choosing "poorly" to drink out of the wrong cup.   I will never forget you Matilda.  
Matilda the snow bitch on the hood of the spirit of Mount Prospect before she blew away.

Entrance to Trapper Cave Indiana, not sure what I was thinking about at that very moment


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