Participants: Bill Gee
Seth Colston
Martin Carmichael
Kohl Mitchell
Shannon Zaloz
Emma Buckingham

Trip report by Bill Gee.

The main goal of this trip was to relocate the bat roost detector from the Mountain Room to the Lunch Room guano piles. We also planned to replace the batteries and the memory card in the roost detector, and to upgrade its firmware. The final goal was to collect three of the stream level data loggers so they can be sent in for battery replacement.

I drove to the site Friday afternoon, arriving about 4:30pm. I had some sprinkles of rain when leaving Kansas City. but none after passing Warsaw. The ground at the silo was a bit wet. There had obviously been some rain recently. The frog pond was at normal level. The spring peepers were in full song. I opened the cave and hung the rope. The lights in the silo were on when I arrived, and also the rope light in the shaft.

Overnight it rained for several hours. It did not rain hard, but it was constant. My estimate is about 3/4 of an inch came down. Saturday morning the ground was fairly soggy. After I got home, I looked at th radar estimate of rainfall. It said there was about 1/2 inch overnight Friday and very early Saturday.

In the morning Martin was the first to arrive at about 8:00am. He let me know that Shannon would be participating after all. She had been in and out due to both a fever and the possibility of a different caving trip. Several other people had signed up but had to drop out for various reasons. At one time there were ten people on the roster.

Everyone else arrived by 9:00am. We all geared up and were in the cave at 10:15am. I placed the cave light detector under a rock near the ladder, then we all left for the trip to the Mountain Room.

In order to upgrade firmware on the bat roost detector, we carried a laptop computer in a Pelican case as far as the Lunch Room. That task got passed around so everyone had a turn. We arrived at the Lunch room at 11:30. The waterfall in the Lunch Room was flowing, though not very hard. We dropped off the laptop and proceeded through the Turnpike.

We came out of the Turnpike shortly after 12:00pm. It was lunchtime. We all had lunch. The remainder of the trip to the Mountain Room took a bit less than half an hour. It is fairly easy caving in that section of Carroll Passage. We arrived at the Mountain Room about 1:00pm.

Our tasks here were fairly simple. We packed up the bat roost detector and the PVC pipe mounting platform. I carried the bat roost detector in my pack, and Martin carried the disassembled mount platform.

We got back to the Turnpike ladder about 2:00pm. Emma’s light was just about out of batteries, so we paused to change them. It turns out that we did not have a tool to open the battery pack on her Apex light. Shannon pulled a spare light from her pack for Emma to use.

The return trip through the Turnpike seemed even muddier and more tiring than when we first came through. Shannon’s loaner light turned out to be rather dim. That was fine for the confined space in the Turnpike, but needed to be handled when we got out.

We arrived at the Lunch Room about 2:30pm. Martin and I set about taking care of the batteries, memory card and firmware update on the bat roost detector while Shannon and Emma did another light switch. The batteries and memory card were quickly swapped and verified to be working. The firmware update was a complete fail because I did not have the right kind of USB cable. The detector requires a right-angle USB mini-B, and I brought only a right-angle USB micro-B. We hauled a heavy and clumsy Pelican case all that way for nothing.

The roost detector was placed on a shelf overlooking guano pile 15. It is 15 feet or so from the pile and aimed slightly upward. This guano pile always gets the most use, so there should be no problem detecting bats.

Continuing on, we arrived back at the ladder at 4:10pm. Seth, Shannon, Emma and Kohl went over to Thunder Falls. Martin and I went on to the ladder. Martin geared up and climbed out while I collected the two stream level data loggers. A few minutes later the others joined us.

Seth climbed up first while I checked gear for Kohl, Shannon and Emma. The four of us climbed as a group. Seth was at the top to help everyone get out of the shaft safely. We were all out of the cave by 5:00pm.

It was a nice sunny day with a bit of a breeze blowing. Hou Zhong was there after having led a novice trip at nearby Perkins Cave. After changing, packing and talking for a while, most of the group went into Camdenton for Mexican dinner.

There were several salamanders on guano piles 11 and 12. Seth took a few photos of them. We also saw a few sculpins in Carroll River and some frogs at the Mountain Room. As we started to climb out, I noticed a larval salamander in the pool at the base of the ladder. We saw plenty of bat carcasses, most of which were fairly old. We saw no live bats.