Trip Report for 11/8/2003

Trip Leader: Ben Miller

Other surveyors: Kim Chiles,  Andy Lerch

Area Mapped: UL3 Maze

We entered the cave on Saturday about 1:00 PM and once everyone from my team was on the bottom we started heading upstream.  The trip upstream was fairly uneventful though it was noticed by several others that the cave stream seemed to be noticeably colder.  Unfortunately since the other teams were ahead of us we could not accomplish much fish counting.  We found the other groups at the entrance to UL2 made a bit of a game plan with regards to exit times and continued heading upstream.  Once we reached the “UL4 entrance” to the UL3 maze we stopped and set up a base area for a later hot meal. This also gave those of us changing clothes a chance to do so.

Once everyone was ready we took the first team into the maze where I made sure they had a good tie-in station and then showed them the lead was as well.  Then Andy, Kim, and I took the long way around, through the upper maze, down Messy Pit, through Canyonlands, and eventually to a point where the stream crosses the passage.  One unusual characteristic was noted, the fact that both the upper and lower mazes actually had flowing water through them, a feature never seen before in the year plus that we’ve been mapping UL3.  Once we made it to our lead we tied in and started into a wet side passage, which we believe to be the drain of the entire maze out to Thunder River.   The passage was rather uninspiring, low, wet, and muddy conditions abounded but we had been prepared for this so it was not quite so bad.  Eventually Kim went forward and said that the passage opened up huge, after some checking she confirmed that indeed it was Thunder River.  We quickly tied in the survey making a large loop and then headed to the base area for some hot food to refuel our spirits.

After the nice break and some hot food we headed back into the maze this time taking the short route to our lead.  This go-around we took the upstream portion of the same stream we had surveyed down just a few hours before.  This part unfortunately ended up being much wetter with about 2 feet of air and 2 feet of water fairly consistently.  We persevered and eventually the survey was actually out of the water and onto some damp gravel and cobbles.  At this point we were all getting a little cold so we decided to see if the passage was going towards what we thought it was.   So we pushed another 80-90 feet further and popped up into the Canyonlands portions of the maze.  For the first time in about 3 hours we were able to stand upright.  We decided to take the big way around instead of back though the water and arrived at our gear shortly.   After this we headed back out to the main passage to our little base and started gathering our stuff to head out of the cave.  About 5 minutes later the other group showed up and eventually we all started back to the backdoor entrance.  The trip out was uneventful and we were all out of the cave by about 2:00 AM.