BIG BRUSH CREEK CAVE



Adam Haydock in Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
At around 8500ft. of elevation and 7 miles from a main road in the Ashley National Forest is one of the longest and most impressive caves systems in the state of Utah.  Big Brush Creek cave is the smaller, bigger brother of Little Brush Creek cave which is just a few miles to the east of this system. 
Laura Sangaila in Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
The cave extends into the earth striking at right around 5 miles in length and over 800 ft. deep which is broken down into a large and extensive entry corridor room which follows a log plugged passage and continues with a series of crawl way and stoop walking maze like passages that give the cave it total distance.
Laura Sangaila in Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
Continuing deeper into the cave, you can find that the canyon walls start to form and there are a series of small drops and down climbs which can be wet so adding to the 40 degree cave temp, you can find yourself wet and cold really quick especially in the winter months when the cave is even colder.
Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
This cave has taken the lives of previous visitors so extreme care must be taken to go here in the summer/fall months when it is dry and conditions are dry or, like what this trip did in the winter, Hike 14 miles in the snow, camp at the top of the ridge, and hike down the following day to visit the cave. Snowmobiles would have been really helpful but we wouldn't have got the fabulous workout that we had by snowshoeing in.
Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
Laura and I set out to Vernel and I parked my car at the main road and was hoping for the best along the snow covered road which was used by snowmobiles and cross country skiers. Initially, I thought I would be able to park 3.5 miles away but the road was closed so a one way hike of 7 miles had to be done with 30-40lb packs, thankfully heating snow would give an unlimited supply of water and the snow itself was a bit packed down, yet it was still a challenge.
Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
Eventually we got to the site where camp was set up and the spot where a trail could follow the spur down into the valley floor where Big Brush was located. I also thought that we would be able to set up the tent in the cave entrance but with the snow melting where camp was at, I wanted to play it safe and not be caught in any rising water levels.
Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
Camp was set up and we got a good night sleep in the howling winter winds of the high Ashley National Forest altitude. The temp dropped to around 15-20 degrees but the skies were clear and the following day was also a clear but cold morning break.
Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
Once the morning broke through and the sun was shining through the tall red pines, I cooked up some breakfast and we headed down to the valley floor where Big Brush Creek Cave was located.
Laura in Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
There were massive patches of hoarfrosted snow that would just break when weighted by footsteps and would plummet 3 to 4 ft. into the rhimed crystallized snow layers. Sometimes the slope was over a 45 degree angle as the approach to the entrance of the frozen creek and the cave yet the snow appeared to change from crystallized BB's to cold powder snow.

Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
Finally we made it to the bottom and at the massive entrance was in view and very inviting. The last 200ft. to the entrance was a boulder field of snow covered rocks that would swallow me up to my neck in places as I inched my way closer to the entrance. Just another boss to pass in this game but determined we were, we made it through and onto the iced over rocky river bed of the cave.


Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah

First thing I noticed is how big the entrance was and how long the corridor was which must have had to been 50ft to the ceiling and hundreds of feet in length.  There were no formations in the cave itself but the water and the temperature made up for the lack of formations by creating a beautiful ice palace of pillars columns and even drapery formations hanging from some of the ice formations. 



Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
One formation in particular I named the chandelier actually had bacon drapery ice formations which was ribboned and wave like, hanging from the main ice sculpture.  Laura spent a couple hours taking photos in this room as it was so interesting to see.  Again, water keeps amazing me that much more and this winter wonderland ice palace that awaited us as we entered the cave was breathtaking!!!
Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
There was also a large column ice pillar that exists year round but at this time of the year, the pillar must have been in its prime and very tempting to climb.
Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
After being in the cave for some time we decided to exit and head on back up to the camp so we could break it all down and start the long trek back out to the car.
Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
Big Brush is a cave that we will love to come back to in the summer months not only to continue to photo document the cave but to also ridge walk a bit and look for other systems in the area.  I know of little brush and tooth brush just a few miles away and another system which has an unknown name and is another cave that is heavily fortified with secret and privilege that I am not sure where it is, but I am optimistic that there will be many other systems to be explored and I am looking forward to coming back soon. .

Laura enjoying the wilderness above Big Brush creek, Utah
There is ongoing survey and project working on in big brush which continues to render more distance with no end in site so the local cavers have been continuously visiting this cave to push its limits which has rendered over 5 miles of passage so far.
Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
There is a lower water level room that also needs care taking as it has a high carbon dioxide level due to the organic material that gets washed in from the floods and decays in the cave, leaving a high CO2 concentrate that can trouble your breathing in this already high altitude alpine cave.
Laura Sangaila in Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah
be careful when venturing into this another other systems in the area as these caves can injure or kill as they have in the past and we don't want to see anyone else hurt in this remote area of the Ashley National Forest.

Laura Sangaila in Big Brush Creek Cave, Ashley National Forest, Utah

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