Working on the Pic Walenta Memorial Shelter House at Carroll Cave, Oct 27 and 28.

Trip report by Rick Hines.

I had hoped to pour concrete on Oct 28 but after 3 inches of rain earlier in the week I canceled the concrete to avoid getting a concrete truck stuck in the cow pasture. But since I had a crew lined up, I went ahead with working Oct 27-28 and switched from concrete work to framing the shelter house.

I drove down Thursday morning and picked up my trailer at the silo, then drove back to Camdenton and purchased 45 twenty-foot sticks of rebar, rebar wire ties, tie twisters and some 2x8s. Jeff Bowman was the first to arrive Thursday and caught me napping in my truck.

First, we started checking the alignment of the eight post we had set on a prior work day. I was surprised to find how much they had moved after the rain. Bill Gee arrived and after setting up his trailer he joined in to try to straighten the posts. We then took some measurements to determine the shortest post. We determined that if we cut the post to match the height of the shortest, we will still have a little over 9’ between the concrete and the bottom cord of the trusts.

Jeff and I drove to town to get dinner at El Caporal, leaving Bill cooking dinner in his camper. We returned after dark and I set up my tent/cot and powered up my electric blanket. After a couple frosty nights on the last work trip, I came prepared for another frosty night. I was nice and toasty all night.

Friday morning after coffee and hot oatmeal we got back to work. Our three-man crew on Thursday grew with the addition of Don Toole, Martin Carmichael, Sarah Peterson and Justin Prazak. Don has a lot of construction and carpentry experience so it was great to have his help. We soon finished getting the posts plumb and aligned. We packed gravel around the base of the posts to fix them in place until we get them locked in with the concrete. We used my transit to mark a level line on each post and then measured and marked the cut line at the top of each post. We used an electric chainsaw to top the posts. Then we marked the posts for cutting a notch to set 2×8 on the inside and outside of the posts. Cutting the notches was more difficult than I expected. We experimented with a chainsaw, handsaw, circular saw, sawzall, and a chisel and eventually got it done. Then we screwed the 2x8s into position at the top of the posts. I considered trying to set the roof trusses but we decided the important thing to do was to get ready for concrete.

We pulled string across the concrete forms to allow us to adjust the gravel to yield about 4 inches of concrete. We identified the areas where we needed to add of remove gravel. We shoveled, scraped, and raked until we got the gravel base where we wanted it. The final operation was to lay out the rebar on two-foot centers and tie it. We just finished the rebar, as part of the crew started getting ready for a short “reward” trip in to Carroll. Since Bill needed to collect a flowstone sample from the side of the shaft for analysis, he led the trip taking Sarah, Justin, and Jeff on their first trip into Carroll. It was a short trip, down the 120-foot shaft, a short distance down the Carroll passage to the headwaters of the Carroll River and then back to the shaft to climb out.

Everyone helped me pack up my tools and then Jeff, Sarah, Justin, Martin, and I headed back to El Caporal for another great Mexican dinner.

I’ll watch the weather and pick a day to reschedule the concrete, hopefully within two weeks. Other than putting chairs under the rebar, we are ready to pour. If it is necessary to cancel the concrete again, we will just continue to work on setting the trusses and doing the roof.

Thanks to everyone that helped.


Jeff Bowman

Bill Gee

Don Toole

Martin Carmichael

Sarah Peterson

Justin Prazak