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
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.