Participants – Bill Gee (Trip leader)
Time in – 9:50am
Time out – 5:30pm
In October 2020 during the annual bat census trip, we placed a bat roost logger in the Mountain Room. The main goal of this trip was to retrieve the memory card for analysis. We also installed new batteries in the roost logger, added some stuff to the Mountain Room rescue cache and searched for evidence of bats in an upper level passage.
The bat roost logger is made by Titley Scientific. The product web site is https://www.titley-scientific.com/us/the-anabatr-roost-logger.html Vona Kuczynska was kind enough to loan one to the Carrroll Cave Conservancy. We are not sure how long the loan goes for. It will be for at least one year.
I drove to the campground Friday afternoon, arriving about 4:00pm. The field was rather soggy due to about 4 inches of rain in the previous week. The gravel road was in good shape. In spite of the rain it was not washed out or rutted. There were some standing pools of water, but nothing that posed a problem. I parked my camper on the gravel.
The frog pond was completely full and overflowing through the fence on the west side. There was standing water all the way to the outhouse. It was possible to get to the outhouse without boots but required a long trek down the fence. The step to the outhouse was laying on its side, and one of the lawn mowers was also tipped over on its side. Both were probably done by cattle.
Seth, Kristen and Nathan arrived after dark. In the morning Hou came up. He also parked on the gravel. We waited a bit for Rita. When we called to see where she was, she said she was not on the Saturday trip. We were all geared up by then, so we divvied up the rescue cache supplies and went down the shaft.
I was the first person down at about 9:45am. Everyone was in the cave by shortly after 10:00am. The shaft was raining rather hard. As a check against a planned trip for the next day, I went to see how high Thunder River was. It was making quite a bit of noise, and was running about a foot higher than normal. This changed our plans for a trip the next day. For today’s trip we decided to place a rescue cache in the Lunch Room instead of at the Mapped End. Thunder River was too high to do any kind of upstream trip.
We left the ladder about 10:15am. With only five people we traveled fairly fast. Going through the Water Barrier we noted that the water level was not up at all. We arrived at the Lunch Room about 11:15am where we paused for a snack break. The ceiling waterfall in the Lunch Room was running strongly.
For this trip we used the Turnpike both ways. It took about 30 minutes to get through the Turnpike to the other side. Another ceiling waterfall was running about 200 feet downstream from the ladder. The stream level, though, was just about normal. Continuing on, we arrived at the Mountain Room about 12:30pm.
After lunch all of us went over to take care of the bat roost logger and the rescue cache. They are only a hundred feet apart on the slope above the Boat Landing. I was able to change the memory card and batteries with no problem. We added several flame sources, candles, arm sling bandages and a few other things to the rescue cache.
That took care of two of our objectives. The third was to find and explore an upper level passage that is supposed to have a lot of bats in it. According to the map, the passage is CL7. The upstream end of the passage is about 10 feet above the stream with an unclimbable wall. Fortunately there is a ladder laying on the stream bank directly across. We set up the ladder. I went up the ladder, up the slope and found passage that matched the map. Nathan and Hou came up behind while Seth and Kristen stayed down. The transition from the ladder to the clay slope is a bit dodgy and they decided to not chance it. We told them to give us 40 minutes to explore.
The passage is mostly walking with a few sections of hands and knees crawling. There are some very nice columns. We went all the way to the far end where there is an overlook into the Mountain Room. The overlook is above the Boat Landing and adjacent to the water passage to the natural entrance.
We found exactly one bat and no guano piles. This passage does not host any significant population of bats.
On the way back we stopped to photograph some of the columns. About half-way back there is a set of holes that lead down a crack to the main passage below. Seth and Kristen had found the crack and were making a stab at climbing up. Unfortunately the holes are too small to get through. Nathan, Hou and I continued on back to the ladder and went down.
After we put the ladder away, we went back to the Mountain Room to see where the overlook was. From below it looks like this might be an easier way up to the passage. However, it would require carrying a ladder across a deep section of the stream. We decided to leave that for another day.
The trip back was uneventful. It took us about two hours to get back to the ladder. We all geared up and climbed out. The last person was out of the cave by 5:30pm.
I do not have a computer that can analyze the data collected by the bat roost logger. I will send the memory card to Vona Kuczynska at Fish and Wildlife Service in Columbia, MO. When I got back home I checked voltage on the used batteries. They measured 3.66 volts each against a nominal voltage of 3.7, so they could probably have run the logger for several more months. These batteries are $10 each and are not rechargeable, so we want to get the maximum possible life from them.
We need to ask around regarding the location of the upper level bat passage. It might be CR11 which is a slot directly across from CL7 and which also requires a ladder to get into.