Participants – Bill Gee (trip leader)
Time in = 9:30am, time out = 2:30pm
Trip report by Bill Gee
This is the semi-annual service trip for the stream level data loggers. Twice a year I download all of the data from them. They hold about 7 months of data. If they do not get downloaded, then new data overwrites old data.
I drove to the site Saturday morning arriving about 7:40am. Looking around, the campsite was in very nice condition. There were cow pies around. The grass was cut short. I looked at some of the red cedar trees we planted last year. A few of them look like they are not going to live, but others are growing nicely. I did not check any of the oak or bald cypress trees.
The first task was to download the rain gauge data logger and then change its battery. I have been changing batteries in January, but that is a fiddly process to do when it is cold. Changing the battery in July will be much more comfortable.
The data logger would not download its data. I tried several times and got nothing. The data shuttle was not recognizing the pendant data logger. Eventually I gave up and figured the battery must have gone bad or something. It was last changed in January and should have been good. Changing the battery causes all data on the logger to be lost.
When I changed the battery, I noticed a few drops of water inside the data logger. I dried it out with a rag and installed the new battery. After changing the battery, I fired up my laptop to launch the logger. The data shuttle still would not recognize it!
By this time Martin had arrived. He suggested leaving the logger out to dry some more while we were in the cave. I left the cover off but stuck it back up into the housing just in case a sprinkle of rain came through.
Becca, Tyler and Olivia arrived about 8:45. We did introductions and then proceeded to change into caving gear. I helped Becca, Tyler and Olivia get the loaner seat harnesses on. Tyler and Olivia used loaner helmets and lights. I showed them how to get batteries installed and run the lights.
In the silo I took one of the cable sleeves and gave Becca, Tyler and Olivia some instruction on how they work. Each of them practiced putting the sleeve on and off the cable. From there we all went down to the “basement” area. Martin demonstrated the use of safety tethers for getting on and off the rope. Martin was the first person down the shaft at about 9:45am.
I helped Becca, Tyler and Olivia get on the rope and started down the shaft. As each of them arrived at the bottom, Martin was there to help get them off the rope. I was the last person in at about 10:00am.
The first thing I did was collect a water sample from the drips coming down the shaft. Tyler Huth at Washington University in St. Louis is doing an isotope ratio analysis of water from various caves. I volunteered to collect some samples for him from Carroll Cave. Tyler took a photo as I collected the sample.
I changed the batteries and memory card in the cave light detector. I downloaded the barometric pressure data logger. We all went down to Thunder River where I downloaded the data logger and collected a water sample for Tyler Huth. While there I pulled up a random rock and found a half-dozen isopods. Everyone got to see what an isopod looks like.
We set off for the data logger in Carroll River at about 10:30am. We stopped several times to point out formation areas. Tyler took a bunch of photos and a few videos with his cell phone. We arrived at the Carroll River data logger about 11:00am. I collected another water sample for Tyler Huth and then downloaded data.
We were back at the ladder by 11:30. Lunch break! Everyone had something to eat and drink. We left for UL2 at noon. The trip to UL2 took most of an hour. Olivia was having trouble with her shoes getting a grip, so we could not move very fast.
After downloading the data logger in UL2 and collecting a water sample for Tyler Huth, we immediately turned around and headed out. Olivia was getting a bit cold and very tired, so we decided to not push on to Convention Hall. On the way out of UL2 we stopped at a formation area. Tyler and Becca climbed the slope and were suitably impressed.
At the entrance to UL2 Tyler and Becca climbed up the mud trail to view some of the best formations in the cave. We were on the way back to the ladder by about 1:15pm.
When we got back to the ladder, it was obvious that Olivia was near the end. Martin volunteered to take Becca and Olivia up to the ladder and get them into harnesses. Tyler and I continued on – at a much faster pace – to Thunder Falls. I downloaded the data logger, which completed our list of tasks for the trip. Tyler was suitably impressed with the waterfall.
Tyler and I got back to the ladder just as the others were finished getting into harnesses. Tyler and I geared up quickly while Martin climbed on up. Becca and Olivia started climbing while Tyler and I finished gearing up. We quickly caught up with them at about the half-way point.
Olivia had to dig deep, but she managed to finish the climb on her own power. We were all out of the cave by 2:30pm.
On the surface Rita Worden had come by to mow the campground. She could not because cows had got in during the previous week, leaving a lot of manure behind. Rita scooped as much as she could into a bucket and took it outside our fenced area.
I revisited the rain gauge data logger. After reassembling it, I started my laptop and tried connecting to it. It was still not connecting. Martin and I discussed some options for a few minutes. I rechecked the computer once more, and found that the logger had finally connected. I was able to launch it. It usually does not take more than a few seconds to connect. Perhaps the problem is the case on the data shuttle. Over the years it has collected quite a few scratches which may be interfering with the LEDs that transfer data.
After we cleaned up and packed away gear, the five of us plus Rita went into Camdenton for dinner at a Mexican restaurant.
We saw several fish Thunder River and in UL2. As usual the fish in UL2 were bigger than anywhere else. We saw one grotto salamander on the trail going to Carroll River. I only turned over one rock, which had about half a dozen isopods on it. They were all small, between 2 and 4 millimeters long.