February 19, 2014

Secret Pit Alabama
After preparing the almighty Honda accord for a 1200 mile round trip to TAG, Brian Hunsaker, Laura Sangaila, Noboru Sakabe and Adam Haydock hit the road at around 9 pm Thursday night on a “thru the night trip” to Alabama.  We drive through the night and get to Huntsville around 6 am Friday morning.   Kevin Romanak and Justin Thompson were waiting in the truck for us at the Kennamer Preserve in Alabama.   
Justin and Laura looking into Secret Pit

When sunlight broke through we loaded up Kevin’s car and drove his 4x4 to the trailhead preserve.  The Honda would have got stuck in the thick muddy road if the attempt would have been made to traverse the road so we put everything we needed in Kevin’s truck and prepared for a long and cold day in the melting Alabama snow. 
Brian Hunsaker dropping his First Pit, Secret Pit Alabama

 We hiked up the mountain to Secret Pit.  This is a 140ft drop with no passage at the bottom.  We rigged and bounced this cave with no issues.  It was a nice starter pit and at a 140 ft., it was a nice drop to get ready for the larger TAG drops we were about to go to.   
Kevin Romanak Ascending Secret Pit Alabama

After we de rig, We split up and start to head for the orgy entrance to Kennamer Cave which is where Kenna Pit is located.   The Orgy entrance is the entrance we were suppose to come out of for the thru trip in Kennamer cave but we were not able to find it or  able to find Kenna Pit,  so we hiked up to the water fall entrance and dug entrance to see where we should enter the cave system.  After a few mis orientations, mis communications, and some cold chills thinking about the waterfall entrance, everyone decided to go into the dug entrance. 

Brian Hunsaker at the waterfall entrance to Kennamer Cave

 Laura Decided to stay back and head to the car so the rest of us entered the tiny hole in the ground where we had to crawl through cold water to get to a waterfall room. 

Justin Thompson, Kevin Romanak, & Brain Hunsaker at the first waterfall in Kennamer cave
 This waterfall room had a 35 shear drop right next to an exposed crawl that we had to traverse around.  This brought us to a 45-50 degree mud slope that took us to the lower stream passage. We down climbed this section and got to a room with a series of dome room connections with waterfalls raining down into small pools.  We started our attempt to make this a thru trip to the orgy entrance.  We had the map and noticed where we were initially but as this cave will show later on in this trip, we should have been paying attention to the map.  We walk through a large room until we get to the Moby dick room which is a massive boulder that is blocking the passage ahead of us.  My camera and I were not getting along to well in this humid cave so the pics I got inside this cave system did not turn out as well as I wanted them to.  The cave is a lot more beautiful than these pictures show.
Moby Dick Boulder Kennamer Cave
 This boulder was a couple stories high and its weight must have been in the TONS…the SHIT TONS!!!..HUGE so huge it took us 20 minutes to squeeze through a lower river passage via “breathing in to fit through the squeeze” passage to get back into walking passage.  We get to the other side and the domes seem to get bigger above our heads.  Some of these domes reached almost 120 ft. up.  It was pretty amazing to see the design above us that has been eroded away by water and other effects.   We continue on and come to a down climb where we had to chimney down and go through a series of rain dome rooms with chert levels, stratified rock, and mineral joints which are always amazing to see.  We got to another dome room and the passage started to turn into a hands and knees crawl.  We continued down through a small hands and knees borehole passage and passed by formation and flowstone rooms until we eventually came up to the 40-50 ft. drop.
Brian Hunsaker in one of the large dome rooms Kennamer Cave Alabama

  We looked down and couldn’t figure out how to get down initially.  We backtracked, checked all the side passages, checked the map, but nothing appeared to make sense.  I viewed the drop and it appeared to bell out underneath us so I can’t imagine how someone would have down climbed this pit. I continued to look around but I didn’t see anything that looked like a way  to climb down.  We were all tired but we must have missed something.  We backtracked and tried to retrace our steps but after a few attempts, we decided to exit and go out of the cave the way we came in.  It was a defeat as we wanted to make the through trip and we are pretty good at navigation and Survey, but not tonight.  Defeat accepted.  We got out of the cave pretty quick so that tells me that we mis oriented the distance on the map and there must have been a way down.    We were drenched and it was in the low 40s by the time we gotout so we kept moving until we got to the car.  It was a nice feeling to know that we got a motel at the Liberty Inn for a night so we could dry everything off and stretch out in a warm place, take a shower, and relax.  We get to the Honda and in a daze; we make it to the motel and crash for the night.

Last pic I got before shit started going south in Kennamer Cave Alabama


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