Areas Visited – Carroll Passage to the Lunch Room

Time In – 9:30am
Time Out – 2:00pm

Participants – Bill Gee (trip leader)
Seth Colston
Hou Zhong

Permit number 1910-1

This was supposed to be our annual bat census trip where we count bats from the Lunch Room to the Mountain Room. One of the participants dropped out very early Saturday morning, leaving us no time to recruit a replacement.

I drove down Friday afternoon with my camper and spent the night. Seth Colston arrived later on Friday, after I had gone to bed. The weather was cool, and it sprinkled rain much of the night. It was not raining in the morning. Before going to bed I unlocked the cave and hung my rope in the shaft.

In the morning Seth mentioned to me that our fourth person had sent him a text saying she would not make the trip. We still expected Hou, who drove down very early Saturday.

With only three people on the trip we did not feel comfortable going all the way to the Mountain Room. Seth and Hou have both been in Carroll Cave but never past the Water Barrier. If something happened to me, they might have a hard time finding their way back to the ladder.

Seth and I hatched a plan to do a shortened version of the trip. We would collect data from the data loggers, do an isopod count, and check the status of the guano piles. Our turn-around point was the Lunch Room instead of the Mountain Room. We would not get a bat count, but at least we would get some data.

Hou showed up shortly before 9:00am. We reviewed our plan with him and he was OK with it. We all got our gear on and entered the cave. Hou was the first person down the shaft at about 9:30am, followed by Seth and then me. One nice thing about a small team is it does not take long to get in the cave!

I downloaded data from the two loggers at the ladder, then we left for the Water Barrier. At the Rimstone Room I downloaded the data logger in Carroll River. We all went through the water Barrier.

A few hundred feet past the Water Barrier we did an isopod count in a riffle of the stream. This is the same place we have done the count every year. We also checked the tiles. Nothing was found on the tiles, but we saw plenty of isopods across a wide range of sizes.

From there we continued on to the Lunch Room. On the way we stopped at every guano pile to photograph and document the state of the gauges. We cleaned off those gauges that needed it. We also looked for other life, especially fish and salamanders.

We came to the Lunch Room shortly after 12:00pm. We all had lunch and then started the return trip. We were back at the ladder by about 1:30pm. We were surprised to find that DJ Hall and a friend of his were in the silo at the top! DJ and Andrew helped us with safety tethers at the top of the shaft as we climbed out. Everyone was out of the cave by 2:00pm.

After derigging the cave and changing into clean clothes, I had a short conversation with DJ regarding the new padlock for use on the road gate. The new lock is a bit confusing regarding where the numbers of the combination have to line up. I handed DJ the lock, told him the combination and asked him to open it. He could not because he lined up the numbers wrong. I showed him the trick, and then he was able to open it.

This is going to be a problem for a while, until everyone learns the proper alignment of the combination. The proper alignment is NOT the center line of the lock. It is the black line that is just above the center line.

Since it was still early in the day, Seth, Hou and I decided to head back home instead of spending the night. I packed up my camper and was on the road by 3:00pm. On the way out I installed the new padlock and a chain on the road gate.

Summary of data collected:

All five tiles in the riffle were blank.

Isopod count
2mm = 1
3mm = 1
4mm = 1
5mm = 5
6mm = 5
7mm = 2
8mm = 1
9mm = 3
10mm = 2
11mm = 1
12mm = 2
13mm = 2

Guano gauges:

Guano gauge 1 = completely blank
Guano gauge 2 = 40% coverage, thin layer
Guano gauge 3 = completely blank

We saw two larval salamanders (about 40mm) and a small fish (about 35mm) in the stream near gauge number 3. Also an adult salamander 40 mm and another adult salamander 30mm, and two more fish about 30mm each.

Guano gauge 4a = Completely clean.
Guano gauge 4b = Completely clean.
Guano gauge 5 = Completely clean.
Guano gauge 6 = 50% coverage, 3mm depth
Guano gauge 7 = Completely clean. The guano pile is almost the same color as the mud.
Guano gauge 8 = One small spot.

A stash of grotto salamanders, all adults, all in the same area. 100 to 110 mm length on all of them. They were about 10 feet from guano pile 6. A dusting of guano was in that area. Also one smaller salamander in the stream.

Guano gauge 11 = Completely clean
Guano gauge 12a = 20% coverage, thin layer
Guano gauge 12b = 80% coverage, 6mm depth

One salamander 100 to 110mm.

Gauno gauge 13 = Completely clean.
Guano gauge 14a = One small turd, otherwise clean.
Guano gauge 14b = Completely clean.
Guano gauge 15a = 100% coverage, 10mm depth
Guano gauge 15b = 40% coverage, depth 5mm.