Cassell Cave Weekend - 11/14-16/2003

by Bob Robins

This Gangsta-Mapper Cassell Cave weekend was able to go on as scheduled this time, with no hurricanes to interfere. We had eleven cavers show up at the "car wash condo" near Dunmore. We were actually in a somewhat more finished room over the office this time, rather than the previous location over the car wash. Bob Zimmerman, Miles Drake and Ben Diedrich rode with me, arriving just before midnight, hot on the heels of Dave West and Karen Willmes. Apparently Jonas Bystrom and Edgard Bertaut has only just beaten them in. Poor Stan Carts had been there since five waiting for people to show up, but that's just as well since the owner had forgotten we were coming. Philip Balister also showed up Friday evening, with Mark Veerman showing up the next morning to round out our crew of eleven, though both Bob Z. and Karen were complaining of foot injuries that limited their activities for the weekend somewhat.

Saturday saw us up and about later than usual, with Bob Zimmerman sacked out until after 9:00 am (he has suddenly discovered earplugs!). We finally got moving, stopping at the Mennonite bakery on the way to Cass for a quick breakfast snack. We arranged for some of the crew to go up and check out the pit while Bob Z. stopped in to see Charlie Cassell. When we got to the parking area, we saw the crew returning from the pit and it quickly became apparent that we would not be using the pit this weekend. We went up to see for ourselves and there was a lot of water tumbling from the stream onto the breakdown blocking the pit - Charlie Cassell mentioned that it was flowing the last time he had checked and that they had received 2-3 inches of rain earlier in the week.

We retreated to the parking area to begin some serious milling around as we tried to come up with a new plan for the day, but I guess that's what we get for trying to do too much organization before getting to the cave. We had already written off the Ballroom entrance because Karen's injury left us without a third person for the requisite skinny survey team. The amount of water coming in the pit almost surely meant that the Gunbarrel would be sumped - we were running out of entrances! We ended up with two teams of three (Bob Z., Ben, Mark, Edgard, Jonas and Phil) going in the Windy entrance together to do some clean up while the rest of us went to the "fifth entrance" area to dig. While we were milling around, a crew from Charleston Grotto showed up let by Mark Botkin, who apparently has some property just down the road toward Cass. They went off to do a small cave a little further north while the Gangstas finished getting organized, and then apparently came back after our crews went in to do a tourist trip in the Windy entrance, taking us up on our offer to take advantage of the cable ladders.

The digging crew (Stan, Dave, Karen, Miles and Bob R.) headed back to Charlie's place to organize our gear and head upstream to the dig. Miles went in the entrance with instruments and tape, getting in as far as Karen had on our previous trip, and relayed data out to Dave. It will definitely require passage modification (mining) so not much more was going to get done there on this trip. Meanwhile Stan and I had started digging in the nearby sink and were quickly joined by Karen, and then later by Dave and eventually Miles. We succeeded in moving some rocks, breaking up several large ones with sledgehammers before we broke the handles on Dave and Stan's largest hammers. We then resorted to comealongs to haul out two more large rocks, including the remainder of the one that claimed the hammers. At that point we continued digging for a while in dirt and smaller rocks, eventually deciding (just in time for dinner) that the dig was not deserving of any additional effort. Next time, when we have the right tools, the focus will move back to some serious digging in the fifth entrance cave. This weekend shows that we really need a fifth entrance! After dinner we arrived back at the car wash/campground, getting settled in just before the in-cave crew arrived.

Sunday we managed to roust Bob Z. a little earlier and after some milling around, several of us drove down to the Lutz fieldstation to check on Lewis Carroll and Drew who had been working on getting a roof on the new porch. Lew had made progress, completing the roof structure but, just as we were getting the plywood in place, it started raining so we had to stow the supplies and leave the actual roofing for another day.

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  Last Updated: February 12, 2004