Trip date: 17 Jan 2010

Project manager: Bill Gee

Trip purpose: Biology – examine existing bait sticks and plant new ones

Areas of Cave visited: Convention Hall

Trip participants: Bill Gee, David Ashley, Zach Copeland, Michael Voltz

Entry Time: 10:30am

Exit Time: 7:30pm

The trip report: This trip started with a conversation between Eric Hertzler and David Ashley. Eric was planning a trip to do some biology work, mainly planting additional bait sticks in lower Carroll River near the Mountain Room. When he realized all the bats are in that area, he changed plans and some more people came on board. Eventually 11 people signed up, though two dropped out.

I had been caving on Saturday, so I camped overnight at the schoolhouse. Jon Beard, Eric Hertzler and Josh arrived at the schoolhouse a bit before 9:00am. David Ashley and Michael Voltz arrived a few minutes later. we chatted for a bit while waiting for Zach and his friends to show up. Eventually they did – they had been waiting up at the silo for us!

Three of us had 4×4 trucks, so we loaded all the gear and headed up the hill. Due to snow melt it was very sloppy. Zach Copeland’s truck has street tires and had a bit of trouble with a sloppy spot right at the upper gate.

Gearing up and getting down the shaft took a while. We were all in the cave by 11:00am. We split into two teams. Eric led one team for some work in lower Thunder River and I led the other team into upper Thunder River. We agreed to meet back at the ladder no later than 8:00pm.

Our goals were to place some new bait sticks, place two sets of tiles in the river, and examine as many of the existing bait sticks as we could. We left the ladder a few minutes after 11:00.

We carried two sets of five unglazed terra-cotta tiles with us. These were place in two riffles in the river. The first riffle is near where the trail comes down to the river after going past the Angel Pool Passage. The second is upstream from the second shower head.

The tiles are flat on one side and have ribs on the other. They are roughly 8 inches square. Each tile is numbered. By their nature they make counting and measuring animals much easier. They are easier to find than rocks, and easier to count things on. Counting animals on the tiles gives us much more repeatable data than counting on rocks.

At Flat Rock Falls we placed a couple of bait sticks, then went on to the Round Room. We arrived there about noon. While walking on a mud bank David took a spill and landed on his back on his camera case. He was hurting but still able to move. At the Round Room we had a lunch break, then placed a pair of bait sticks in an alcove where they are out of the way.

The next stop was UL2. As we traveled up UL2 we stopped often to record data about fish. We saw about 20 fish, taking length estimates on most of them. We also saw a couple of smallish grotto salamanders. We did not spend much time looking for snails or isopods.

We arrived at Convention Hall about 1:30. David’s back was giving him a hard time, so I gave him some Ibuprofen out of my first aid kit. We examined the bait sticks in Convention Hall. Michael, Zach and I went over to the Conference Room to look at the bait sticks there while David rested his back. In the Conference Room we found a grotto salamander on one of the sticks. Michael recorded data about the bugs and I took a bunch of photos.

As we traveled, Michael used a laser guided infrared thermometer to measure the wall temperature around several bats. We checked perhaps 5 or 8 bats. David used a “Kestrel” several times to get readings on relative humidity, temperature and air flow.

The trip back to the ladder went quicker than I thought it would given David’s bruised back. We arrived there about 5:30. The gear from the other team was still there, so we knew they were not out of the cave. We examined four bait sticks. Two are in the landing area around the ladder and the other two are under the boxwork formation a little ways down the passage.

We had plenty of time and David’s back was feeling better, so we decided to head down Carroll Passage to the Water Barrier. We placed a pair of bait sticks there and wanted to get a look at them. We arrived at the Rimstone Room about 6:15, spent 15 minutes recording data and taking photos of the bait sticks, then headed back.

When we arrived back at the ladder a few minutes after 7:00, we saw that the other team had exited the cave. We geared up and climbed as a group. Everyone was out of the cave by 7:30. We derigged, packed up and headed down the hill shortly after 8:00. I camped overnight and everyone else drove on home.

For this trip there is no data in my notes. David and Michael have all the data.