August 12, 2014

Borden's Pit Indiana

 I woke up at around 3 AM to get on the road so we could get down to south Indiana and visit some caves deep in the woods before Cave Capers opened up.  So I am pretty awake and aware of my surroundings as we leave Illinois and drive over the large sky way bridge into Indiana when a cat makes the un successful attempt to dash in front of my car and became what Phil referred to it as "splat-a-cat".. Un believable!!!! I love cats and my two left tires ran directly over it.  I could hear kitty parts tumbling in the back wheel too! I was not happy with that, but after a few hours of driving and watching the sun rise as my radio scanned through the country and religious channels attempting to find some sort of classic rock, I realized to myself that it wasn't me that killed that cat, Darwin Killed that cat. Yup, it was Darwin. Regardless, I was disappointed and as we would later find out, that bad luck followed me with regard to locating caves that weekend until Tony Akers and his led trip came to the rescue.  I finally get to the woods and we ended up tromping through a Puerto rician rain forest of a hike with no luck on finding two cave locations.  Whaa, whaaaaa, whaaaaaaaaaaaa....Oh well not the end of the world.
Borden's Pit Indiana
So after attempting to dry off in the car while driving to capers, we show up right at noon for registration.  Immediately, I see Joe Kinder and Charlie Vetters helping everyone else set up the registration booth.  I got a copy of the guidebook and WOW...I knew they were going to use some of my pictures but they did a fabulous job with the center piece the back cover piece as well as the horizontal and vertical section pictures.  I feel grateful to be able to contribute to a great event.  Now that was a sexy guidebook! Afterwards I drove out to the back shelter and some people were claiming some sections of it. We ended up setting up under the shelter and had a section for WCG.  We didn't know it was reserved for the special guest Koreans or anyone else but we were happy to share it with everyone and didn't try to claim the shelter.  Although we wanted the banner up for the late arrivals showing up we had room for more people. Now I feel bad, soaked, and cave less from the morning.  Phil showed up and we prepared to go to Bordens Pit for some afternoon pitting. After stopping by the registration booth, we set out for Bordens and got to the landowners property mid afternoon.  Now the year before, Danyelle, Kevin, tymme, Chris and I attempted to look for this pit with no luck and now I had two separate way points close together from this year and last year. We get to the woods and grind over and around thorns, dead trees, and had no luck finding Bordens!!! AAAGGHH!! dammit, now that's three for three, do I need to retake a navigation course, and I losing it, going blind, what the...!! 
Borden's Pit
We salvaged the day with a fantastic dinner and went ahead to choose our attitudes to have a fantastic time with great people that night at capers.
I got to see a lot of friends and got a chance to meet some new friends in a social gathering instead of caving and leaving right away to try to beat traffic and get back to Chicago at a decent hour for work the next day.  I always feel a bit tired as I am always getting into Bloomington around  1 am and waking up early to go caving the next morning all day so it was nice to hang out and not be rushed or in that quiet tired feeling I get as it all catches up to me at some point during the weekend. I think we went through almost two bottles of rye and a 12 pack of beer along with the other refreshments that were offered at the bar.  It was also nice to hear Chris Bell, Dave Everton, and Ron Adams jam out through the night.  The next morning we woke up and I was absolutely determined to find bordens pit so we signed up for the led trip hosted by Tony Akers. We leave in a pack of cars over to the landowners property, again, and this time we found a path and eventually came up to a pit cave entrance.  YES!! it does exist and we can actually go caving!! woohoo.. We rig the tree and steve drops into the entrance down the rope.  As we wait for steve to get to the bottom, steve yells up " I am at the end of the rope and im 15 feet from the bottom!"...what the????

 Borden's Pit

Steve got short roped!! Luckily he is a very experienced vertical caver and was able to change over and ascend out so it was more of a comical experience for him than a real threat but why was he short ropes?. Turns out we were at the wrong pit!!..."I'm never going caving this weekend" is what I thought to myself as Steve came back to the top. This cave was off limits so we continued to search for Borden's and about 1000 ft from this pit, we finally found Borden's pit!! After two years and three searches including a short roped confirmed that we were at the wrong location, we finally made it!! Borden's is a 40-50 ft drop with some passage at the bottom including a couple of breakdown climbs and a small canyon. 

Steve in Borden's Pit

We decide to start making our way out and up the cave so we can go to the next location and cram in a full days worth of caving. It was great to hear stories that tony, Marion, and Simon had of Mexico along with the interesting night that George spent at the bottom of Borden's pit. We ascended Borden's and headed to hells hole. Phil decided to turn back to the festival while Laura, Steve G, Steve S, and I went to the location where we could park and go to hells hole. 

Bordens Pit Indiana
Hells hole is around a 100ft drop in the middle of the woods with two miles of cave that this entrance is connected to. There is a option to make a through trip by rigging another pit in the area but it can be difficult to find that entrance from what I was told.
Steve in Hell's Hole

Furthermore, there is a series of challenging passages including a passage named Satan's sewer. Lots of low muddy chert water crawling which leads to borehole passage. There is a theory that hells hole is connected to king Leo cave but no connection has been made yet. We bounced this pit and while we ascended bill baus and rusty Riley showed up with their party after going through king Leo cave. Afterwards we de rigged and went back to the car.

 Hell's Hole

Laura, steve, and steve went back to the festival to catch the guest speaker  and I went to smiths blowing hole cave. Beforehand, We stopped by the landowner of kecks pit but they were not home so we made our way over to the parking spot for smiths blowing hole cave. The map looked interesting as there was a 70ft drop after a crawl with climb downs and water so we were eager to check this one out. We crossed the field and find the sink entrance into this cave. We go in and immediately we encounter the crawl. It didn't seem to long on the map and it actually wasn't that long of a crawl but the cave didn't give up it's main attraction easy. We found ourselves squeezing though the first restriction loaded with camera gear and bulky items.  The passage opened up and it was about to get really tight again so we worked together as a team and we got to the final restriction. This was about a foot in height. Dam, this passage is a tight birth canal. Thank god we didn't wear our vertical gear through it. . Finally we popped out into a 3-4ft ceiling and a small canyon that led us to Farley's well. I look over the ledge and it had a trickling waterfall into a decently sized room below. I found three bolts placed in awkward positions with one pretty rusted. I attempted some configurations to rig Into the bolts and each configuration would be bending the bolt or the Biner in a way that was critically dangerous. I did not have enough webbing for a static equalization so we decided to turn around a exit the cave as we were quite tired and just a party of two in this cave. Thinking back I should have just looped the rope through the hangers and created some equalization but I don't mind going back and spending some time pushing some of the potential leads in that cave.  there must have been some natural anchors but I didnt not see any in the area where the bolts were located.. We head back to the festival around 930 to get a shower to clean off. We cooked dinner and walked around a bit to see everyone relaxing from their caving trips they took. We ended up going back to the shelter to finish off what we had in the cooler and get some sleep for out last day of caving on Sunday. 

We get up relatively early Sunday to strike camp and decide if we are going to go to big bat cave in Kentucky or go to houghton hole on the way back to Chicago. We decided to go to houghton hole as it will be a bit closer and it will be good to get some extra pitting time in. 
We leave the campgrounds and say goodbye to our old and new friends at the festival and head over to houghton hole. This was a 40ft drop into a open air room with a adjacent dome room.  We end up hanging out with the land owner and he stayed with us as we rigged and bounced this pit. Their use to be a lot of garbage that had to be cleaned out which happened almost 10 years ago.

Houghton Hole
We had to watch out where we were stepping as there were needles and other sharp objects to avoid. We exit this pit and end up hanging out with the neighbor along with this landowner while they talked about various pits that have opened up on their properties.

Houghton Hole

We had the opportunity to check out a potential lead that was covered in branches and the landowner said that there use to be a hole in there so he brought his tractor over, picked us up in his tractor and took us over into a place where his enormous black Angus cows roam. There was a sink fenced off with branches covering the entrance. Phil rigs in and drops under the tree line Into a place where he can see karst but no place to continue the push into this feature. Afterward this 2600 pound steer came walking up and we got a chance to pet this "baby" steer! Felt like a rug. After talking with the landowners we got another tour around the property in the tractor to where other pit entrances are but are very small entrances and don't go anywhere according to the landowner. Shortly we left and headed back to Chicago.

Phil pushing a lead
We had a blast at capers this year and I want to thank everyone involved in the organization and planning of this event. I also want to thank everyone who hosted my photography in the capers guidebook which was super awesome and for the led trip we participated on. I realized throughout the night and after I left that I missed a lot of people I have connected with in the past and didn't realize I was talking with people That I didn't put the face to the name with. Well this won't be my last time at capers and I will be there next year. 
Tony Akers Led trip to Borden's Pit Indiana

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