Trip report by Bill Gee.

Carroll Cave trip report 20 March 2022

Participants: Bill Gee
John Roth
Seth Colston
Hou Zhong
Kristen Godfrey

Time in = 9:20am, time out = 3:10pm.

I have been visiting Carroll Cave for many years. There are many more years left for me, but eventually the time will come when I cannot do it anymore. With an eye toward that I am trying to mentor some younger cavers. It is time to pass on some of the knowledge that I have.

This trip was intended to do just that. I realized a few months ago that some of our new trip leaders had been to Convention Hall several times but had never been any farther. We put together a trip specifically to see the part of UL2 that is beyond Convention Hall.

Seth, Hou and I all camped Saturday night. It got colder than expected, with a low around 28F. There was frost on the ground in the morning. John arrived about 8:15 and Kristen about 20 minutes later. We all geared up and were in the cave by 9:20. An early start is much easier with experienced cavers!

The trip to the UL2 entrance took about 30 minutes. We paused there for a few minutes while Seth took some photos of Hou next to the waterfall. We also paused for a minute to note the location of the entrance to UL1.

It rained Friday night about half an inch, but there was no noticeable effect on the level of Thunder River. It was running right at its usual level.

In UL2 we proceeded to the formation room. I showed everyone how to get to both of the viewing areas. From there we went on to Convention Hall. On the way I reinstalled the stream level data logger that recently came back from getting a new battery.

In Convention Hall I showed where the six exits are from the room. Two of them are fairly obvious – the way we came in and the slope up to the overlook room. Three more can be seen but do not lead anywhere. The way to the rest of the passage is not obvious. The waterfall in Convention Hall was running but not strongly.

We made our way over to the Conference Room, which has just about the last formations in UL2. There are three ways out of the Conference Room. We started by going down the UL2-60 side passage. It goes several hundred feed and eventually terminates in a muddy belly crawl to a breakdown pile. John and Hou went all the way to the end.

The other exit from the Conference Room goes down to the main stream passage. It is fairly muddy and has a few mud banks to climb over. We arrived at UL2-90 about noon where we had lunch.

After lunch we started into the UL2-90 side passage. This passage is also known as the “3M” passage – Muddy Meandering Madness. It is spanky banks and ungraceful squeezes along a muddy stream. We struggled and cursed for about 45 minutes, getting a bit more than half-way to the end. We stopped at a place there there is no way on except to belly crawl on a mud flat.

On the return trip we were a bit concerned about finding where to climb back up into the Conference Room. It turns out to be fairly obvious since the alternative is a very tight stream-level belly crawl.

We were out of UL2 by about 1:45pm. On the way back we stopped for a closer look at UL1. John and Hou made the big step to get into the passage. There is a rope to assist, but it is not all that useful. The passage has a few formations. It is otherwise nothing remarkable.

We got back to the ladder about 2:30pm. Seth, John and I geared up and climbed out. Kristen and Hou went down to the river and spent ten or fifteen minutes cleaning up before they climbed out. Everyone was out of the cave by 3:10pm.

The weather warmed nicely during the day. It was sunny and about 75F, quite a contrast to the morning low. John had a portable shower tent set up by his truck. He also had a tub of very hot water and some black plastic bags that warmed up nicely in the sun. John and Kristen both took advantage of the shower.

I had planned to stay overnight, but it was early enough that I could get home in good time. Seth and I left first, and the others a few minutes later.

We were not looking for critters, but we did see some. There were fish in both Thunder River and UL2. As usual UL2 had more and bigger fish. Even the 3M passage had a couple of fish in it. We also saw several salamanders in the stream.