Area Mapped: Carroll River from the Water Barrier upstream
Team: Bob Lerch, book and sketch; Rita Worden, lead tape, backsight, and inventory; Matt Goska, tape, foresight, and cross sections
Team Leader: Bob Lerch
Time In: 11:30a Time Out: 8:30p Duration: 9.0 hours
We planned for a short trip because several people had various reasons that they needed to be out early. Since the Carroll River passage is so close, this was the obvious choice for getting the most footage. With 8 people, we could divide into 3 teams all mapping in Carroll River from the Bear Claw side passage, now designated as survey CR1, to the Water Barrier. Ben Miller’s team picked up at C24 and mapped downstream towards the Water Barrier. My team would map from the Water Barrier upstream and eventually tie-in with Ben’s team. Andy Lerch and Lawrence Ireland would start Bear Claw.
Our survey started in 4’ tall passage with 2’ of water just upstream of the lowest point in the Water Barrier. From here, we mapped upstream and along the right wall (looking downstream), the left wall in the direction we were mapping. This was some annoyingly wet survey, but it allowed me to define the stream passage well, which is otherwise hidden from view along the main path through this area. After the stream level, we shot up and out of the water into some beautifully decorated walking passage. The entire area is filled with speleothems. There were numerous big and small columns and flowstone everywhere, among a forest of soda straws, stalagmites, and stalactites! Of particular note, were the giant rimstone pools with small aragonite (or pool spar) bushes about 1.5’-2” long dangling from under the lip of the rimstone! Super sweet!! The passage gets quite wide (~85’) in this area, and the speleothems continue to be dazzling throughout. We mapped only 11 shots before we were tied into Ben’s team. Footage totals for the trip by team were: Lerch, 368.9’; Miller, 591.9’; Ireland, 530.9; for a trip total of 1491.7’. That’s 0.28 miles in only about 8 hours of surveying!
The major sour note about this whole area is the obvious impact of so much human traffic from over the years. The Restoration Project is doing the only reasonable thing to do which is establish a trail and clean-up some of the most egregious damage done to the speleothems. While mapping this area, we did not walk anywhere other than areas with obvious trails already present. This prevented me from seeing absolutely everything while sketching, but at least no further damage was done to the speleothems by our survey.