Trip report by John Roth
Participants: Kristen Vogel, Mike Kovacs, Candace Kovacs, Alaina Borra, Brandon Fagen, Matthew Hernandez, Becca Marlin, Raleigh Miller, Bryn Downes-Ward, John Roth
Time in 09:30, time out 17:00 Areas visited – Angel Pool, Carroll Passage, Thunder Falls
The purpose of the trip was to flag or re-flag sensitive formation areas, place reflective markers, and bring new cavers for an introductory trip to Carroll. Kristen’s permit group was full, so John from Chouteau Grotto signed up in advance for another permit, bringing the total group to 10.
Some KCAG members camped Friday night, and everyone else joined at the silo before 9am Saturday. Becca made it in the nick of time, and dressed quickly while Candace had already rappelled the shaft. Everyone was down by 10:15am. What became immediately obvious was the much louder sound of the falls compared to previous trips.We first headed West to the Angel pool, and Kristen and John added pink flagging tape around the periphery, noting lots of foot traffic around the edges. Past the Angel pool, the group explored the end, but a connection to UR1 was not found…. surprise.
The group doubled back to Carroll River passage, trending east and saw several new pools of standing water. A pile of 6 bike reflectors on metal rods was noted, but after some discussion we decided against using these. We opted for reflective thumbtacks, but ultimately found no way to affix them without getting washed away. The group continued east to the water barrier, with half the group taking the wet walk on the right past the formation area, which highlights a backwards view of the white calcite above. Surprisingly, the water barrier level seemed the same as usual.
Kristen had planned to reach the Lunch Room, but as we reached the large guano piles, we could smell fresh guano and urea strongly. Soon we heard the raucous chatter of bats up ahead, and turned back to avoid disturbing what might be maternal colony.
While returning west, a few stopped to explore CR2, which was similar to the 3M passage—all effort, no reward. The group also stopped at CR1 to visit the Bear Claw Passage. Ultimately only Brandon and John pushed it to the limit of the slippery crawl to see delicate collections of helictites. We saw a juvenile salamander in the water. Brandon found a pair of caving gloves. When the passage became too low to accommodate a sideways helmet, we retreated: laying on our backs and pulling along the ceiling was the easiest way out of the slip-n-slide.
The group continued back toward Thunder Falls, with an impressive flow arching out 2 meters horizontally, cascading into the pool which is usually knee-deep at the edge but was now waist-deep. Returning to the ladder at 4pm, the group started climbing. With considerable water raining down the shaft, John started pre-attaching the fiddly cable safeties, so each caver could simply walk up, clip in and start ascending. However, a jammed cable ascender caused a holdup for a while, but eventually Bryn cleared it up, and all were out by 5pm.