Permit number: 1807-2
Trip date: 2018-07-14
Trip participants: Bob Lerch, Dan Lamping, Josh Hafner, Derik Holtmann, Joe Sikorski
Entry Time: Noon
Exit Time: Midnight

Our survey objective was the CR5 side passage in the Carroll River arm. We also wanted to get some photos in the vicinity of the CR5 side lead. It’s not the most beautiful part of the cave, but it is impressive river trunk passage that goes and goes with deep, soupy, and sticky mud in the stream channel. CR5 is downstream (towards the entrance) of Paradise Passage (CR3) and Trunk-in-the-Junk (CR4), but a good ways upstream of The Turnpike. Our plan was to have Josh and Derik do the photo work, and Dan, Joe, and I would survey.

We made it to the CR5 lead in about 2.5-3 hours, taking some photos along the way. The stream channel in the vicinity of CR5 was really tough to move through, so Dan went up to the lead to check it out before we all stumbled over for nothing as it was not clear it went anywhere. CR5 is up on a mud bank that you have to climb up to get into the passage, and right as you get on to the bank, there is large pool with the sweetest Lily-pads in the entire cave. Given the delicate nature of this pool, Dan went ahead with a Disto X and mapped three stations, reaching a definite end, and sparing the pool any damage by having 3 of us stomp through for less than 100 ft of passage.

While Dan was surveying CR5, we found a nice, solid gravel bar that was a welcome reprieve from the ever unstable mud soup we had been trudging through for most of the last hour. The big storm in 2017 was evident along the way as mud banks had new sediment deposits, and the mud in the stream channel was completely rearranged with old footprints washed away or filled in. After some time eating and drinking at the gravel bar, we began looking for any other leads. We noticed a small tributary on the east side of the passage cutting a canyon through the mud bank as it wound its way to the main stream. Once on top of this mud bank, a small passage was evident, about 3 ft wide and 1.5 ft high with a sand over mud floor. I went in to check it out and crawled about 30-40 ft which was enough to see that it was opening up and going.

At this point, Josh and Derik start heading out to get as many pictures as they could. We figured the passage wouldn’t go for long and we would catch up to them since they would be moving slowly. Dan, Joe, and I headed in to what is now CR6 and mapped about 350 ft of passage that is all new survey footage. The passage was almost entirely hands-and-knees crawling, but it was pleasant low and wide passage with a solid mud floor. We knocked out several stations (~10-12) before coming to some nice helictites and soda straws on the ceiling, and then came to a small joint running perpendicular to the rest of the passage. The speleothems got more and more dense the closer you got to the joint, which if you were careful, you could stand up in as it was about 3 ft wide and more than 10 ft tall. The entire joint was covered in pristine white formations – stalagmites, draperies, and soda straws were everywhere on the ceiling and walls. Immediately after this decorated joint, the passage abruptly ends (too low; <0.5 ft). After some thought, Dan came up with Happy Ending as the name for this beautiful little feature, and Joe and I agreed this was the right name.

As planned, we caught up with Derik and Josh on the way out, and everyone was out of the cave by about midnight.

Submitted by Bob Lerch

Editor’s note: Some of the photos taken on this trip are at this page.