May 27, 2015

 Patt Mudd double exposed picture in Gross Skeleton cave

We woke up early to get to Gross Skeleton so we could spend the better part of the day pushing our way and completing a through trip in the cave. We get to the landowners property and get a chance to talk to him for a bit before heading down to the cave.  The landowner was nice enough to take us down there in his truck which saved us a lot of hiking downhill which was super nice of him!!!   As we were getting a ride down, the landowner explained to us how Gross skeleton got its name, one entrance was owner by a landowner with the last name of "Gross".  The other entrance was believed to have skeletons of animals when the cave was discovered so as the landowner explained, "Gross Skeleton" was formed. I was hoping we could see one nasty gross skeleton somewhere or a famous formation that was named the Gross Skeleton but only my imagination could hallucinate a Gross Skeleton at this point, maybe the flowstone at the end of the cave can be called "The Gross Skeleton"...ok, ill let it go.
Entrance to Gross Skeleton Cave

 Going into the cave was the lovely Patt Mudd and than there is Me Ole Me. I get out of the truck and thank him for his welcoming hospitality and super friendly personality, so many nice people in TAG, BTW, IMO, LOL..... We get to the entrance of the cave and start our way in and around a couple ole stoop walking passages until we get to a 12ft climb down which was not hard to overcome.  Soon After we noticed two snakes weaved together and perched up on a log starring at us. 
Patt Mudd in Gross Skeleton Cave

They must have been as cold as the beer I had in the cooler waiting for us at the car, poor snakes!!! We continued on through walking and stoop walking passages until we encountered water and a pretty good amount of it too… some of the water passage we had to actually swim through in order to get to a walking or a continuing stooping passage. 

There was a smell of methane in the cave as we traversed deeper and I also found that in some places where I would step in the submersed mud, bubbles would rise like walking in a swamp and the smell of methane would fill the air, yes I have walked in a few swamps in my past. 
Mammoth flowstone in Gross Skeleton Cave
Eventually we got to the mammoth mountain flowstone room where this massive flowstone was perched on a ledge.  We had to walk up and around this thing in order to continue on in the cave.

Once we passed this, we continued on and made it over through some more water swims and stoop walking until we popped out into a canyon passage that acted as a courior for us to a breakdown mountain room and a intersection where we could go up the breakdown into some massive rooms or continue on into some low passage rooms that would lead us out of the cave.
Gross Skeleton Cave
We went up!
We continued up to the top of the breakdown pile into some breakdown room and traversed around until we found another section that took us to some very impressive room in gross skeleton.

This borehole passage that was leading us to the formation rooms was pretty big, must have been 50-75 feet in width and 30-50 ft high at times. It was like a 6 lane highway as we walked to a room with large rimstone dams and a interesting flowstone formation.
 Patt in a multi-exposure photo in Gross Skeleton Cave

What was nice about this flowstone is that it was white on one side and a dark blackish brown color on the other side, it looked like one of the ghosts from pac-man was running to fast in the cave and fell into the mud, no running in caves!!!
Adam Haydock in Gross Skeleton Cave

I spent some time in here taking a few pictures and headed over to the next room where there were pretty massive flowstone dams a dammed pond and some formations in the distance, so I got a couple pictures of that before we started to make our way down the breakdown pile and into the final stretch of cave to complete the through trip.

We get to the bottom and prepare for some cold swims and ball cinching pools of water before we could exit the cave. We went swamming!.... through a couple passages and walk/stoop a few more as we meandered around the cut banks of the river making our way over to the remaining passage. 
exit Gross Skeleton Cave

 I could notice a faint smell of fresh organics, and conditions change a bit as we got closer to the exit of the cave. We continued to proceed toward this direction and a flicker of light reflected across the water which got more and more defined as we made our last turn towards the exit.  daylight blinded us and the heat that we expected poured over our skin like taking a hot shower as we finally left the cave.  We were surprised to see that the last passage was not the swim we thought it would be which was fine for us. What a fantastic cave and a great trip that was.
Exit of Gross Skeleton Cave

After having lunch, we hiked to the swamp and around the shoreline to the road which eventually took us back up to ours cars. Freaking awesome day of caving!!!!We got back to the hotel and went over the Diggins Pit for an afternoon bounce


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