Trip Leader name: Jeffrey Crews

Trip date: 7-17-2009
Project manager: Bob Lerch
Trip purpose: Survey
Areas of Cave visited: Upstream Thunder
Trip participants: Jeffrey Crews 135 Jeff Bartlett 376 Joe Williams 375 Lyle Hutchens 377
Entry Time: 7-17-2009 11:30 AM
Exit Time: 7-19-2009 12:00 PM

The trip report: The trip was a great success. We got down the shaft at around 11:30 on Friday and I took Joe, Lyle, and Jeff down to Thunder River to the falls. The water was up just a bit for July with recent rain and everyone was pretty impressed. After that we started slugging our way up river towards the Round Room. The 3 new guys climbed up to the overlook at the entrance to UL2 to see the pretties and take some pictures. I pointed out the various side passages and such on the way to the Round Room. We got camp set up and were ready to head out for some light survey by 3:00 PM.

We headed up to station FB10/U129 to work on the side passage complex Freeman and I had stumbled across a year or so earlier. I wanted to start mapping were the stream meets Thunder River first but deep water and a lack of wetsuits made me reconsider. Near the water’s edge a tight looking canyon took off so I called Joe over and asked him if he wanted to check it out while Jeff, Lyle, and I started mapping into the decorated dome part of the complex. After setting a station I saw and heard Joe coming to a side passage Freeman and I had spotted on the previous trip. He said it was too tight to make it over to where I was but it was walking cave where he was at. We finished mapping the joint controlled dome while Joe found a way to climb up to an upper level and came out on a ledge above our survey and was able to climb down fairly easily, even if the walls kept breaking up if touched. Joe reported that the lower passageway went to the waterfall that Freeman and I had spo
tted before. After Jeff finished sketching the dome we turned our survey into the upper level. After a couple of short shots of the passage continued as a twisty but wide and comfortable crawl-walkway, stuff that drives sketchers crazy.

For those of you who don’t know Jeff Bartlett, lets just say he’s a high energy kind of guy, and he’s always willing to carry on a conversation. So when Jeff was complaining that he was having a headache and thought a migraine was coming on we could really tell something was bothering him as he would go for 30 to 40 seconds without speaking and when he did talk he was pretty subdued. It was really hard to bag the survey but we needed to get back to camp and get some Jeff some vitamin I, food and rest. It was midnight when we bagged to survey so I felt pretty good that we had unlocked the key to this little maze and the next day we would put in a long day. There is probably around 200 to 300 feet of multilevel cave still to map out there based on what Lyle saw at the end of the survey and what Joe saw in the lower levels.

By the time we got back to camp and started cooking up dinner Jeff was in serious agony. He barely touched his food and was getting nauseous when he basically passed out for the night. The rest of us ate our dinners and went to bed plenty tired. When we finally got up and checked Lyle’s watch it was Noon. The new guys were surprised they had slept that long not having cave camped before. We cooked breakfast and drank various coffees I had my RBFF press mug while the others had instant, or tea bag style coffee. After the food, rest, Advil, and caffeine Jeff was feeling much better. We had reached phase 3 and left camp at 3:00 PM and headed for a meander that needed mapped near the 2nd Azure Pool. We started by finding stations set during the first Round Room camp and mapped to the southern wall and into a canyon that became it’s own passage before popping into the floor of the main trunk right near the 2nd Azure Pool. There were some neat cave pearls in the canyon.

We then grabbed our gear and headed for U140. Here Ben’s sketch does not match Bob’s sketch. There is a major ceiling change with some big breakdown that obscures a massive meander that Bob noted on his sketch but on Ben’s sketch there is just a false wall drawn at the ceiling change. I think Ben had the No Disto Blues that day so after we ate a hot lunch we resketched from U140 back to U137 at this point Jeff was burnt out from drawing breakdown all day so he handed off the clipboard to me and we turned the survey down into the sweeping meander on the north wall and at a pit that drops down to Thunder River we surveyed up to U140. The new sketch matches Bob’s stuff pretty good and the passage is well defined from wall to wall.

Jeff dropped down into the stream by the Jumps and walked down to the pit to see if we could find a station to tie into for a survey down the pit. Without the notes for the stream survey we were unable to fine a close station and had to abort. We packed it up and headed back to camp.

We got back to camp around 2:00 ate dinner and went to bed. Morning came for me around 9:30 so I started boiling water for breakfast. The others started getting ready and we had eaten and started breaking camp by 11:00. I think we got out of the cave around 2:00. We had a great trip and I have a lot more cave to draw up.