Participants: Bill Gee (leader), Mike Kovacs, Candace Kovacs, Scott Wenzel, Kayla Heady

Trip report by Bill Gee

Time in – 9:15am. Time out – 2:45pm.

There is a link to YouTube video at the bottom of this post. The video was recorded by Mike and Candace Kovacs using several GoPro cameras. Editing was done by Mike Kovacs. There is also a picture gallery.

This trip was originally planned for January 8, but due to weather and lack of participants was delayed twice. The goal was to download date from all of the stream flow data loggers in the cave. We also changed the battery in the rain gauge logger mounted to the silo. Scott, Mike and Candace had never been in Carroll Cave, so this was an introduction trip for them.

Scott Wenzel and I drove to the silo early Saturday morning. We arrived about 8:00am. The gate was chained shut but not locked when we got there. We left it that way. The temperature was about 25 degrees, so the first thing we did was start Scott’s Mr. Buddy heater in the back of my truck. It made for a very warm changing room.

The silo entrance had a lot of ice both inside and outside on the apron. I brought a bag of ice melt which I applied generously. It worked quickly. No more slipping and sliding as you step in or out of the silo.

Changing the battery in the rain gauge logger is not difficult, but there are some small parts that can easily get lost with cold hands. Scott helped me out by catching the small parts. After that was complete, I started my laptop computer and used it to relaunch the logger.

Just about the time we finished that, Mike and Candace arrived. Scott got into the back of my truck and started changing while I went and filled them in on what was going to happen. Kayla arrived a few minutes later, giving us a complete crew.

The night before our trip, a team of surveyors had gone into the cave to do some work in downstream Thunder River and DL7. They were camping in the cave, so all we saw was their trucks. They had already rigged a rope which we used. That saved time on both ends of our trip. Their rope was hung from the center loop of the rescue hatch, with a second loop going to one of the welded stanchions on the side of the tank as a backup.

We were all geared up and ready to enter the cave by 9:00am. I gave everyone a quick lesson on how to use the cable sleeves, then we all went down to the basement. That let us close the hatch and prevented a cold breeze from blowing up the shaft.

Kayla was the first person down since she has been to Carroll Cave in the past. Then Mike and Candace and scott. I was the last one down. We were all in the cave before 9:30am, close to an hour ahead of plan. I downloaded the barmoetric pressure data logger, then we all went down to the stream where I downloaded the first of four data loggers.

From there we went down Carroll Passage to the Rimstone Room. I downloaded the data logger, then we took some photos of the formations. I borrowed Scott’s helmet light to shine through the rimstone while Candace and Mike took some pictures of the glowing rock.

We returned to the ladder, arriving about 11:00am. We all had lunch. A bit early, but there is no good place for lunch on the way to Convention Hall. We left for Convention Hall about 11:30am. It was a quick trip even with stops to photograph the showerhead formations. We got to the data logger in UL2 side passage about 12:15.

That data logger did not successfully download. I eventually gave up and put the logger in my pack for analysis at home. I will be back in UL2 in about two months, so if I can get it to work we will only miss a bit of data. A few days after the trip I did some diagnostics on the failed logger. It reports a very low battery. I was able to get data from it by hooking directly to a computer.

We had plenty of time so we went on to Convention Hall. Everyone climbed up to the overlook. On the way back we stopped for more photos at several formation areas. We stayed in the river all the way to Thunder Falls.

I discovered that I was missing the data shuttle adapter required for the logger at Thunder Falls. While the others went down to look at the falls from the bottom, I made a very fast solo trip back to the ladder. Yep, the adapter was there with my vertical gear. I had forgotten to put it back in my pack. Back at Thunder Falls I downloaded the last of the loggers, then we all trooped back to the ladder via the shortcuts. We were at the ladder by shortly after 2:00pm.

It took half an hour for everyone to gear up and climb out. We were all out of the cave by 2:45pm. The weather was warmer and mostly sunny, so changing into dry clothes was not at uncomfortable as when we dressed in the morning. We did not have to pull up a rope or lock the cave which made for a fast getaway. We were down the hill and through the gate by about 3:15pm.

We did not keep count of fish. In Thunder River we saw perhaps a dozen, and in UL2 we saw another 15 to 20 fish. We turned over a few rocks at the ladder and in some other places. There were isopods on some of them, none more than about 4 or 5 milimeters long. We did not see any bats or salamanders.

Scott and I drove to Clinton and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I dropped him off at his car, and arrived homw a few minutes after 7:00pm.

The next day I tried the UL2 data logger again. It still does not want to download its data. More diagnosis is required.

Candace and Mike shared some of the photos they took. I included 15 of the best photos in this post.

Bill Gee