Trip date: 15 April 2017
Project manager: Bill Gee
Trip purpose: eDNA sample collection
Areas of Cave visited: Convention Hall
Trip participants: Bill Gee, Zachary Schmidt, Rita Worden, Joshua Mouser, Alex Buzicky
Entry Time: 9:20am
Exit Time: 3:40 pm
The trip report: This is the second of three trips to collect eDNA (Environmental DNA) samples from Carroll Cave. See my previous trip report from March 25 for more details regarding the process.
Everyone met at the silo shortly before 9:00am. Joshua camped at the schoolhouse Friday night. He brought Rita up the hill in his truck. Zach and Alex arrived last, having parked on the road at the gate and walked up the hill.
Everyone geared up. I helped Zach and Alex with their seat harnesses. Rita went down first, then Alex and Zach. Joshua and I were last. Everyone was in the cave by 9:40am. We were running a bit ahead of schedule.
The first part of the trip went down Carroll Passage to the Rimstone Room. The first sample site is just a bit upstream from the data logger. When we collected a sample at this site in March, the water was fairly silted up. It took several filters elements to process the required amount of water. Today we had no trouble with silt.
The second and third sample sites went just as smoothly. At the third site we collected two bottles of water for later filtration. From there we went straight to Thunder Falls.
The fourth sample site is the pool just upstream from Thunder Falls. We filtered the last water collected in Carroll River, then collected and filtered samples from Thunder River. Zach and Alex were Carroll Cave newbies, so they took some photos around the waterfall.
We returned to the ladder for lunch, arriving there just at noon. After a sandwich lunch, we left about 12:30 to head upstream to UL2.
The second sample site in Thunder River is at Goska’s Fish Pool. We did the usual sample and filter routine, then went on to UL2. On the way from Thunder Falls to UL2 we saw about 6 or 8 cave fish. They ranged in size from about 35 to 55 millimeters. At the second sample site we saw numerous isopods on the black rocks in the stream.
The sample site in UL2 is just 40 feet into the passage. There were 2 or 3 fish right at the sample site. After finishing the sampling process, we had plenty of extra time for some fun caving. We proceeded to Convention Hall. On the way we saw a young grotto salamander on a mud bank about a foot above the stream. We also saw numerous fish. Everyone except Rita went up to the overlook. On the way back we stopped to admire the formation room.
At the entrance to UL2 everyone except me climbed up the mud trail to admire one of the best formation areas in the cave. We were on the way back to the ladder about 2:30 pm.
We arrived at the ladder about 3:15 pm. Gearing up went quickly. I realized that both Zach and Alex did not have anything to provide a safety attachment to the rope. I loaned Alex my handled ascender, which I do not need for the climb. Zach climbed third so that two people below him could “stopper” the shaft if he slipped. Not a great solution, but all we had.
I climbed first so I could help Zach and Alex get off the ladder safely. Rita was the last person out of the cave at about 3:40. As it turns out Zach had no problem climbing the ladder.
Rita and I pulled up the rope and I closed the cave. The weather was nearly perfect – sunny and about 75 degrees. We all changed, packed up and headed down the hill. Zach and Alex changed at their car, then we all drove into Camdenton for an early dinner at El Caporal.
There is one more trip planned for May 13.