May 26, 2015

Top of the 7th Drop in Fowler 2 cave Alabama

After getting 10 days off to go to down to Alabama for a week and I spent a day taking our time to drive down to TAG which was a whole lot better than going to work and driving right from work to TAG just to get a couple hours of sleep and to cave the next day....yea, sooo much better!!!
We get to our motel at the Liberty inn in Scottsboro and at around 11pm the night before Fowler 2, Walter Stech shows up.  We get some rest and meet up with Josh Schultz, Lee White, Robby Jones, Randy Dusenberry, Steve Davis and his son at a gas station near Skyline.  Once we were all there we headed out to Jacobs Mountain and the parking spot where we would hike down to Fowler 2. 
We get to Jacobs Mountain and park out cars near a 4x4 logging road that will eventually lead us over to the caves.  We had intentions to drop Bleeding Ghyll Cave so we dropped off the 380ft rope at the entrance. Afterwards, we hike over the hill to the other side where Fowler 2 is located which is situated in a active workcourse stream that falls into the cave entrance. 
We suit up and proceed to rig and descend into the first of 9 rappels.  The First rappel was around 90-100ft and the longest one in the cave.  We descend down and as we got deeper into the pit shaft, the water drops start to pick up rapidly and we find ourselves soaking wet and in the downpour at the bottom of the cave. There is a lot of water coming down!!
First Drop in Fowler 2 Alabama
We had to snake the rope over to the second drop so we waited for everyone else to get off rope in order to descend the second drop which was also in a lot of water and was around 50ft. This was quite an awkward drop because we had to get on rope and crawl into the drop and swing out a bit in order to get to the bottom.
2nd Drop in Fowler 2 cave Alabama

We all make it to the bottom of this rappel and proceed down the slot canyon passage where the water was snaking its way to the third drop which was only 10-15ft but in tons of water. At the bottom of this was a re-belay and the 50ft forth drop where we had to get on rope and crawl out and over the edge but with this rappel, the water actually would pour over our heads like a giant cup pouring never ending water as you descend down into the cold depths of the cave. 
4th Drop in Fowler 2 cave Alabama
We worked our way around another waterfall and down some breakdown into a dry passage and the 6th drop which was 30-40ft into a breakdown hallway.  
Walter Stech at the Top of the 7th drop in Fowler 2 cave Alabama
This hallway took us to another more impressive drop in the system.   This was the 7th rap and a 70ft drop that had a couple shelves where the water would slam onto the shelf and spray outwards...YES!! Finally at the bottom, the level ground this was a great place to take some pictures and to cool off on rope as you descend directly in the waterfalls fury of cave water!!! freaking awesome!!
Robby Jones at the Bottom of the 7th Drop in Fowler 2 Cave Alabama

next we had to wait in a crawling passage that was about chest high in water to get onto the 8th drop another 70-80 ft rappel directly in water and a pool of water at the bottom.
Robby Jones pushing through a low ceiling high water passage in Fowler 2 Cave Alabama

 People started to get quite cold, lips were blue, eyes were dreary, rain coats were torn up from the sharp water cut limestone and sandstone passage with levels of sharp chert that seemed to grab and swipe at you as you would by-pass along the way.
Robby Jones at the top of the 8th drop in Fowler 2 cave Alabama
So here we are at the bottom of the 8th drop Randy and Lee start to head out of the cave because of the cold conditions so it was down to Josh, Walter, Robby and myself. 
Bottom of the 8th Drop Fowler 2 cave alabama
We start to head through a grueling passage that was no more than 3 feet high and a meandering passage of cobblestone that took a hike with you in your boots as we crawled and dragged our cold and tired bodies hundreds of feet to the last and final drop.

Josh about to descend the 9th drop in Fowler 2 cave Alabama
This was the 9th and final rappel by the side of the watercourse which took us down to the connection to bleeding ghyll where we initially were going to do a crossover but decided against it due to rock falls.
Top of the 9th Drop looking down at Josh Schultz in Fowler 2 cave
After we finally bottom the last drop we ascend out in stages while de-rigging all of the ropes and eventually making it back up to the surface without incident 10 hours later into the night. It was quite the climb as it all added up to around 495 ft of waterfall climbing in water and dragging 20lbs of gear through the cave to the surface. Day one finally ended when we got back tot he car and we were pretty worn out from all of the work we did but it was one hell of a good time!!!!!!
Robby Jones at the top of the 7th drop rappelling into the waterfall in Fowler 2 Alabama

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