February 19, 2014
WINTER TAG DAY 2, MANDY'S PIT, HOLIDAY HOLE, 67 DOLLAR PIT, DOG COLLAR PIT, BLUFF RIVER CAVE
|Stratified Drapery Formation in Bluff River Cave|
Saturday morning we woke up early so we could get an early start to the mountain top for a 15hr. trip into 5 caves. We cooked up breakfast in the motel and took off to the mountain where the caves were located and I followed the road to the point where the pavement ends and the dirt road begins. I took the Honda really slow and steady down this road so I can make sure nothing would get damaged mechanically, we need to get back to Chicago in this thing. The road wasn’t too bad; I was able to get down to the trailhead road where the 4x4 road begins. This 4x4 road was a different story, there were times where the muddy "road" would be on a 30-40 degree slope going straight up the mountain! The ground was slippery, and the mud was deep. We loaded up Kevin’s car and proceeded to blast uphill avoiding troublesome depressions and quickly make it to a bench with everyone either inside or holding to the side of the car outside. Kevin attempted to go up another long stretch of road but the car kept spinning its wheels so he just slowly brought the truck down to the bench.
|Holiday Hole Alabama|
We ended up parking the car at the bench and proceeded to hike up the rest of the mountain to the first cave location, Holiday Hole.
|Laura Sangaila, Kevin Romanak, Justin Thompson, Brian Hunsaker, and Noboru Sakabe in Holiday Hole Alabama|
This was a nice little open air entrance with a 105ft drop into a light rain storm at the bottom.
|Laura Sangaila Descending Holiday Hole|
We enjoyed bouncing this one as it was not too deep and a good warm up for what was coming. Laura was able to dial in her rack and is now able to glide and control the rack with ease, nice work!! After the first three people got back up to the top, they agreed to rig 67 dollar pit while we come up, de rig this pit and meet them over at 67 Dollar Pit.
|67 Dollar Pit Alabama|
We de rigged this pit and got on the radio to see if they were able to find the entrance to the pit. They couldn’t find it so they went to rig Mandy’s pit. We went on a search and found that the waypoints were off a few hundred feet but we were able to locate the pit entrance. 67 Dollar Pit was an 80ft pit with a small entrance and just a drop down into a small room at the bottom. It was nice to bounce this pit so we left the rigging in place so the others could bounce it too. We hiked back uphill to the road to go to the final cave on the mountain, Mandy’s Pit.
|Brian Hunsaker Ascending out of Mandy's Pit Cave Alabama|
This one is a 170ft with a small 10ft drop to get to the main entrance. We cooked up some lunch while the others came up from the drop. They went over to 67 dollar pit and we proceeded to get on rope and drop down this huge gapping room!!! This was really nice!! There was this ringing sound we could hear at the top that gave an eerie yet mysterious sound that echoed inside this room. I got on rope and proceeded to descend down to the bottom. As I descended down, I could see a small waterfall dripping rapidly on a chert level that is creating this ringing sound. I thought that was so interesting as it sounded like a man made instrument left for a waterfall to ring. I get to the bottom and it is a pretty good series of waterfalls creating a rain storm at the bottom along with another waterfall that was going pretty good. There was cave passage but we decided not to go through it as we wanted to save some of our time for the other locations we were going to be going to. Brian Ascended the pit and we made it out of the cave, wet, and into the cold Alabama winter air as the sun was starting to set. We de rig and hike back to the car so we can quickly get over to Dog Collar Pit before night fall.
|Laura Sangaila Ascending out of Dog Collar Pit Alabama|
We parked our cars on the side of the road and hiked up to the entrance of Dog Collar pit. This was another 105 ft. drop with a beautiful active flowstone waterfall at the last 50 ft. We all really enjoyed dropping this too but it was time for some horizontal large borehole passage, Bluff River Cave.
|Dog Collar Pit Alabama|
This cave a great ending to a wonderful day of caving!!! We traverse across a river stream and follow it to the entrance of Bluff River Cave. After a small crawl, this cave opened up into a large borehole passage. NICE!!!!
|Kevin romanak, Justin thompson, Laura Sangaila, Noboru Sakabe, and Adam Haydock in Bluff River Cave Alabama|
We were all really impressed with this cave as it was not only a nice walking passage cave but it was nice to take a stroll through a warm cave system without ropes and extra gear. I was not able to get the best pictures inside Bluff River Cave but I was able to get a couple decent shots of the passage. I highly recommend this cave if you are looking for a nice walking large borehole cave with large rooms.
|Laura Sangaila, Kevin Romanak, and Justin Thompson in Bluff River Cave Alabama|
This reminded me of a smaller typical Puerto Rico cave in terms of the humidity and the size with fewer formations. BUT this cave had a lot of formations in sections, large breakdown mountains over 100 ft. high, and ceilings 30-40 ft. with a width of 20-30ft at times. We get to the end of the cave system and decide to turn back and head back out and to the car so we could get back to the motel. It was a nice addition to be able to stay in the motel and it made a lot of sense for us, especially since we were wet and cold!!
|Laura Sangaila, Kevin Romanak, Brian Hunsaker, Justin Thompson, & Adam Haydock in Holiday Hole Alabama|