Archives for: February 2005, 08

02/08/05

Permalink 02:57:26 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 792 words   English (US)

weekend caving

I spent both Friday and Saturday night caving, and I was sore the rest of the weekend. You use muscles you didn't even know you had when you spend the night wriggling through tight spaces on your belly.

Friday night my brother, my stepfather, my uncle and my cousin and I all headed down to the woods of Carroll County, Arkansas. There was a cave they'd found earlier in the day while they were riding three wheelers, but they hadn't been prepared to explore it at the time.

Although the cave was fairly large inside, with plenty of room to walk around in, it was just a typical cave. It had a couple decent-sized chambers and several small tunnels just big enough to crawl through that didn't really lead anywhere. The only remarkable thing was that in the back of the cave the floor was sand, rather than dirt, and the walls in the rear of the cave were made of some kind of sandstone. There were also chunks of sandstone all over that would break underfoot. Despite that, the cave didn't seem particularly unstable. It was just different, because I'd never seen a cave like that in the area.

Saturday night, we all went to check out yet another cave, although my stepfather decided to sit this one out. This time we were headed to a cave in Stone County, Missouri that I'd known about for years, but had never bothered to check out. If I'd known what the cave was really like inside, I would've been there a million times by now.

The cave was out in the middle of a field and had a very strange entrance. A concrete structure had been erected over the entrance, which was basically just a man-sized hole going straight down, and it appeared to have been barricaded at one time. We all squeezed in through the structure and were blown away by what we found.

Inside, the cave was huge. We were standing on a huge slope leading down into an enormous chamber. It was easily three stories high inside. I was suddenly glad I'd hauled my ten million CP spotlight down there with me, because it was the only light we had bright enough to light up the chamber.

Further in, the cave had tunnels going in several directions. We chose the only one we could walk into and started moving. The tunnel led back a few hundred yards easily, and it was big enough to drive a truck through. At the end of it, there was a place where the ground dropped into a huge pit, then rose up again on the other side as the tunnel went on. We headed through it, shedding gear and clothes as we became too hot.

Before long, we came to a small creek inside the cave that began running along the tunnel. At this point, the tunnel became just low enough to be uncomfortable to walk inside. It also changed from rock to hard packed mud that sloped down from each side to meet the creek. It was slick as hell, and we all busted our rear ends several times.

Occasionally, we'd come to places where the tunnel would become just a crack in the rocks, and we'd have to squeeze through. At least one of those places required us to crawl on our bellies between two slabs of rock for about thirty yards. But, on the other side of those tight spaces, we just kept finding more huge chambers and tunnels that led on forever.

It wasn't long before, by our best guess, we were well over a mile deep. I'd been in caves with bigger chambers before, but this was turning out to be the longest non-commercial cave I'd ever explored. It was also one of the only caves I'd ever been in where I actually thought I could get lost. We'd been walking and crawling for hours with no end to the tunnel in sight, and we hadn't even checked all the branching tunnels we'd found along the way.

Eventually, we decided to turn around and head back, partly because it was getting way too muddy and we hadn't been prepared for it, and partly because it was getting late and my uncle needed to head home. It took us a full hour just to get back to the entrance. Best of all, some kind of animal, probably a coyote, growled at us from the dark as we climbed out.

We'll definitely be heading back to that cave again in the near future, though. There were dozens of side tunnels we didn't get a chance to explore, and I don't think we were even close to finding the end of it.

Underground Ozarks Blog

Here you can read about White Rabbit's day-to-day explorations and adventures.

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