February 1, 2003
UL3 Survey – Team 2
(UL3 Survey photos in Photo Gallery)
Bob Lerch – book, sketch
Roger Brown – foresight, tape
Andy Lerch – lead tape, backsight
Time in Cave: 15.5 hours
The UL3 survey was the focus of two teams for the February survey weekend. The previous month found major leads at multiple levels, and we didn’t want Ben to have all of the fun back there. We coordinated mop-up survey with Team 1 (Ben Miller, Jessie Bebb, and Dan Austin), and our first lead was connecting a loop from UL3-42 back to UL3-29. It was small, winding canyon passage with several short shots, and maybe 70-80′ of passage. After that, we did another mop-up passage going off of UL3-43. This is some upper paleo-passage with sand over clay floors, and ceiling heights that rarely exceeded 4′. We mapped about 60′ or so, and then headed down to the main stream level of the UL3 Complex. To get there, one must down climb Messy Pit, a 25′ down climb with some loose rock, and a bit of exposure. The bottom of Messy Pit is a jumble of huge breakdown that partially blocks the stream level, and creates the perception that the passage forks, but really it is just a breakdown interruption of the stream level passage.
We went upstream, tieing in at UL3-51a2, while Team 1 was working downstream. The upstream passage has the look of a typical Ozark surface stream. Water-deposited chert, gravel, and sand are piled throughout the passage, with a meandering intermittent stream cutting through the sediment piles. It’s hard to tell if the sediments are recently deposited or not, but I’m guessing this area still takes on water in the spring, but it was bone dry when we were there – which was nice for survey. For the first several shots, the passage was trending east, with passage dimensions of about 15′ wide by 4-6′ high. Gradually, the intermittent stream channel disappears, and the sediments become more sandy and cherty. After about 250′-300′ the passage takes a right angle turn to the south. Our last four shots were all heading south. The passage became lower, typically 1.5′-3′ high, but still about 12-15′ wide. Our last shot goes through a squeeze of about 0.8′ for about 10′-12′, and then pops out into a wider room with a 3′-4′ high ceiling. We ended the survey here, but Andy pushed ahead while I finished sketching. After another tighter squeeze, but it can be easily enlarged, he popped into standing (6′-8′) passage with two leads. One lead is small canyon passage, with about 2′ of navigable passage, and the rest too tight to fit into. The other lead was walking passage into another room. That was all he could see before we yelled at him to come back since we were already past our meeting time with Team 1.
In total, we netted about 425′ of low passage, but we saw some really strange and interesting stuff. We realized that most of the stream level we were in was likely virgin passage as we had not seen any footprints or other evidence of humans. There is a chance that any previous footprints had been washed out, though. By Carroll standards, this is not pretty stuff, but in total there is one hell of a crazy complex back here. It appears that there are at least 3 distinct levels, covering 40-50′ vertically. Everything drains to the UL3-51 station level (the bottom of Messy Pit) which, in turn, drains to upper Thunder River. Team 1 racked up some big footage (see Ben’s report), bringing the entire UL3 Complex up to about 2500′, and there are still several leads left before this one is done.