Going into J4 with Kaiser. If you don’t hear from me within a day or so, come find me      : )

Posted by Anthony on 2 replies


01. Sep 29, 2002 at 3:30am by Anthony:

Home safe. Details tomorrow.

02. Sep 30, 2002 at 2:21pm by Anthony:

J4 is an awesome cave. It’s so gigantic. We spent almost 4 hours in there and only saw about one third of the place.  (We only got as far as the highway step-across.)  Check out the map and Nate’s photos of the cave.

On this trip, I did what was one of the most difficult/dangerous/challenging things I’ve ever done.  Kaiser and I were following the map on our way out of the cave, we passed the Flowstone Overhang and then squares 12 and 10 on the map, and then (according to the map) we arrived right back at the main corridor, leading back to the entrance.  The thing is, the map doesn’t convey the different levels of elevation very well.  It turned out that we were about 15 or 20 feet above the main corridor.  We could see it, it was right below us, but it was a ridiculously steep and slippery drop down to there.  There is one foothold, near the bottom, and there are no handholds.  The only way to get down (at a non-falling pace) is to use the friction from your behind and your legs and slowly slide down the 8 or 10 feet to that foothold.  Once you get down that far, you can put your hands on the wall in front of you for a little support.

Now this foothold is just a crevice between 2 rocks that you can wedge your right foot into sideways.  It’s about 7 feet off the ground below, and once you get your foot into it, your head is about 1 foot higher than the bottom of the wall in front of you.  (That "wall" is the ceiling of the main corridor, and at this point you’re sandwiched between it and the slope behind you.)  So, you need to duck your head under the bottom of the wall/ceiling in front of you, but keep your hands on it so you can lean forward a bit, and then you can see that about 1.5 feet below your little crevice, there’s another foothold.  This one is a few inches behind you, in addition to being 1.5 feet below you.  So you have to bend your right knee while keeping that foot in the crevice, and then lower your left leg down the foot-and-a-half to that next foothold.

Now your hands are over your head, still bracing against that wall/ceiling which is your only handhold.  Your left foot is 5 feet off the ground and somewhat behind you, and your right foot is sideways in a crevice 1.5 feet higher.  From here, you have to jump.

We both made it, and we instantaneously went from adrenaline-pumping-scared to elated.  But then the bats came back.

I realized that one of the scariest things to me is being in a confined space with bats.  You’d think caving would just not be my thing.  So these bats are flying past us, just a couple of them, but they go back and forth and they’re so close to your head.  It’s so very freaky.

Here’s the worst part of the whole adventure.  To exit J4, you crawl through a 2-foot diameter pipe that’s 3 feet long, and then you’re in a tiny rock room that you can barely fit 2 people into, both sitting down or sort of crouched over.  Then you crawl through another pipe that’s 4 feet long, and that pipe drops you out on the side of the cliff, and you’re outside.  Now, that’s one of the most fun parts of the cave, those pipes.  The problem was, the bats wanted to get into the cave at the same time we wanted to get out.  As soon as we got into that little rock room, I heard a bat flying outside the cave, so I stuck my bag over the pipe opening, which didn’t quite cover it.  For the next 10 minutes we sat crammed into this room listening to the bat fly into the pipe and turn around when he got to my bag.  This was absolutely terrifying.  We realized that we had to let him pass through our little room if we wanted to get out of the cave.  Eventually, he flew in past my bag and, with only a little flying back and forth around our heads, found his was down to the second pipe and through it.  Next I crawled faster than I’ve ever moved, passing through the outer pipe in about 19 picoseconds and dropping out onto the cliff.  In another few trillionths of a second, Kaiser pushed the bag out and followed.  As soon as we got outside into the night, the bat came back out right behind us!  We wasted no time climbing down the rockface.

So we exited the batcave at 10:07pm.  I think I’ll take Nate’s advice and cave in the winter when the creepy things are hibernating.

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