Survey Trip Report for May 3, 2003

Disto Revelations…

As I ended my day working on the worlds pool problems I joined what seemed to be a mass exodus from the Kansas City metro. Traffic through the triangle was even worse than before due to the new construction going on in this freak built traffic nightmare. But the worse was still farther south at the city of Harrisonville where traffic was forced to use only two lanes for 10 miles. That pretty much sucked right there. I could not wait to get to the peaceful confines of the school house camp. I arrived at around 9:45 pm Friday night only minutes ahead of Ben Miller and then Bob Lerch. Rita Worden, Roger Brown soon followed and the usual pre-survey plans were made with several backup plans for the normal no shows we always seem to have. We went to bed early for us sometime around midnight.


The game plan was to help spread the gravel that was needed at the bottom of the hill to allow the big 70,000 pound concrete trucks to pass the bog that has developed because of the weekly traffic that uses the access road up to the entrance. We were told the gravel would be there at 8:00 so I rousted everyone up at 7:00 to head to Montreal for the traditional breakfast. We gathered and entertained Debbie our cook for almost an hour and at 7:55 we headed back to the school only find out our fearless leaders Brian and Matt had not arrived yet…or so we thought. We sat at the school getting cave gear together wondering why Brian and Matt were nowhere to be seen. At 8:22 suddenly we all noticed Brian’s White truck coming down the hill from the entrance and he made a b-line for the school house. When he arrived we told him we were ready to help spread gravel then Matt informed us the first load had already been there. The first load was 30 minutes early. We all piled into other vehicles and headed down the hill to the gate just in time to see the second load coming. We gathered along the road only to realize we were not needed at all for this endeavor. The truck was spreading the gravel nicely without any assistance from any of us so we went back up to the school to gather our gear and get into the cave ahead of the concrete trucks that were due to arrive at 10:00.

It didn’t take to long for us to get the gear on and the shaft rigged for rappel. I used Dan Isbell’s Bluewater and it was praised as one of the finest bungee cord rappel’s anyone has had the pleasure of using. Dan I still have your rope and carabineers. I was the first to go in and at 10:30 I realized the cement trucks had not arrived yet. I know Brian and Matt told us 10:00 but that was a fib. They know cavers and they used the proper procedure to put us ahead of the slag time curve we cavers are famous for. Caver time is always out of sink with the rest of the world and it was fitting that they told us 10:00 knowing full well we were going to be late. I have used this same technique several times myself. Ben Miller took his team consisting of Shawn Williams (new member) and Roger Brown to UL2 for continued mind bending sketching. My team consisting of Bob Lerch and Rita Worden headed to station U23 to begin the daunting task of re-sketching main passage. This trip was an experiment to see the full potential our new Disto laser distance meters could provide to us. They proved worthy of there weight in gold. The Disto now allows us to sketch at great detail without the required three man teams needed to pull tape, read compass, and clino in half the time. One person can now sketch the big passage with relative ease. We figured out that by breaking the passage down we can draw the stream, then move up to the top of the passage and by triangulating our own position along with features and survey stations it becomes relatively easy to sketch this stuff.  Shooting a distance to a floor or ceiling ledge that was virtually imposable before is now done with no problem what so ever, without the added impact a full team would incur.

This verified what we needed to know to change the strategies for the remainder of the survey. The disto’s have made us realize the full potentiality that this survey can reach. It has been decided to now allow the transit crews to blast there way ahead at full speed doing minimal sketching. This would include the stream and all of its features, depth, width, fish, ripples, etc. as well as numerous splay shots for wall dimension and feature location. This would allow us to quickly tie in our hanging surveys at UR1 and UL3 as well as the Roundroom. We will then allow the Disto sketchers to come in behind them for the detail work needed for the quads. This makes everyone happy. We rack up the footage and all the sides would be tied together in a hurry. This would allow more surveyors access to more of the cave in a far shorter period of time. If we get slogged down with mind boggling passage then we have the freedom to go somewhere else that month. It allows me the opportunity to build the working quads using the sketches that come out of the cave instead of me redrawing them. I love the Disto and the door it has opened up for us. If there was ever a cave worthy of this type of instrument Carroll is it. I was surprised to see the Disto’s confirm several of the ceiling heights we had estimated a few months before. we were good guesser’s I suppose.

Bob and I were stoked and Rita was bored. She was our designated baby sitter while Bob and I sat on our asses and sketched. After about 8 hours my back was nagging me so bad I was inventing new cuss words. It seems I can’t do more than 10 hours of my head bent over in my lap. A good comparison is to stand up and stare at your toes for 10 hours while wearing 40 pounds of mud. Its a real fun time for those of you that have no idea what pain we surveyors really do go through to get the sketch. Which brings up another point. I can’t help but wonder why so many people put so much time into digging this cave open and so few of you are participating in the exploration. Is it that you can’t or won’t? The opportunity is there for everyone. All you need to do is sign up with Bob by the 15th of the previous month. If you don’t sign up then just show up. chances are pretty good you will get to take someone’s place who signed up but didn’t make it. The survey is alive and your opportunity to stare into the virgin void is real.

Sometime around 7:00 We decided to head for the entrance and we looked for fish on the way out but seen none. The absents of the fish numbers we seen a year ago is a little disturbing and that is why we are talking about swinging the transit downstream soon. I would like to take some pressure off of the upstream branch and see if the fish count increases. When we arrived at the entrance we soon seen the lights of the UL2 party approaching. We waited for them and upon arrival Ben offered to show Shawn and Rita Thunder falls. Bob and I climbed out and were greeted by none other than Marty and Rose at the top. They waited for Bob and I to get dressed and then rode down the hill with me to give me my CCC shirts I ordered. I hope they didn’t come all that way just for the shirts. They soon left and headed to Diggers to party with the rest of the clan’s. Welcome back Doug we all missed you. I hope to see you surveying soon.

Mark your calendars: June 7 2003 the next exploration trip. Be there or complain some more.   TL