Trip Report:

Landowner Trip 10/16/2011

Permit No.  1011-1C

Submitted by Rick Hines

In Cave Surface Help
Andy Isbell   Leader Bill Pfantz
Cyle Riggs
Rick Hines
Mike Smoker
Nathan Taylor
Elliot Skinner

The trip was originally planned to be a landowner trip but three days before the trip the landowners on the Sunday trip canceled out.  Rick went ahead with the trip thinking that some of the landowners might change their mind and also to give new CCC members, Nathan Taylor and Elliot Skinner, a chance to see the cave.

Since the purpose of the trip was no longer a landowner trip Rick planned to build steps at the upper Thunder River end of the breakdown pile near the Angel Pool Passage for our service project on this trip.  On an earlier trip with the Cave Pirates and we had unsuccessfully attempted to build the steps.  Rick was prepared with a large pry bar for this trip.

With a larger crew and the pry bar we were able to roll several large rocks off the higher of two small cliffs at the end of the breakdown pile.  We had a tough time getting enough rocks because nearly all the rocks making up the breakdown pile are eroded and crumbly.  Most disintegrated as we tried to move them.  Eventually we got enough to make the first set of steps.  Then we climbed up into the Angel Pool passage and dropped rocks down to the mud bank at the edge of Thunder River and piled them for the second set of steps.

With our service mission accomplished we toured Angel Pool Passage and then moved up Thunder River toward Convention Hall Passage.  Along the way we observed a few cavefish and then Andy found a hellgrammite drifting in the water.  Rick guessed it might be a Hellgrammite when it was found and has since become more certain after Googling it.  A hellgrammite is the larval stage of Dobsonflies.  The hellgrammite lives in surface streams so it is an “accidental” in Thunder River.   Andy placed the hellgrammite on a rock for a photograph before we released it to continue on to Convention Hall.

As we approached Convention Hall Passage we could hear water rushing out and flowing over the small falls into Thunder River.  We followed the water up stream and eventually made our way to Conventional Hall.  After short snack break we headed out.  We were back to Thunder River at 3:15.  After our new members climbed the bank to look at the large formations at the entrance to the Convention Hall Passage we started downstream.  We were back at the ladder by 4:00 and the last person was out at 4:45 PM.

Before returning to the schoolhouse to break camp we drove by the natural entrance.  We looked for bats and found none, alive or dead.