5:30 AM. That is the time my ex-roommate was to wake me up. The previous day my mom woke me up at 7am. It was snowing and she wanted me to drive my sister to school. When I got back, I started to pack. I was packing for a weekend full of caving so I placed two pairs of long johns in my bag. I left for Harrisonburg shortly after 2 pm and made it there by 4 pm driving through patches of rain. Talking to Jared, we decided that meeting at 6 am Saturday morning would give us plenty of time to get to Alpena. Alpena is where meeting the Shaver’s Mountain group. I asked who should drive and Jared said I could if he could bring some music. I replied, “my car, my music.” He said “Fuck You” and that he would drive. Jared would pick me up first at 5:45 am in order to give Sharid a few more precious minutes of sleep. We also made plans to go caving Sunday and possibly even Saturday night. We thought Bowden might be good for a short trip Saturday night and we’d hit up Mystic on Sunday. I thought about going to a show with Angela but recognized if I did that I’d get about 5 hours of sleep and I was still tired from getting up early to take my sister to school. That was smart thinking as I fell asleep at 10:30 pm.
I was actually able to sleep in a bed. Not just any bed, the bed I slept in for a year and a half. The guy that was leaving there graduated and moved out. I was grateful to sleep there. I woke up in the middle of the night with a dry mouth. I got up and got a drink of water. It was 3 am. I went back to bed but I couldn’t fall asleep. It seems that everyone in the whole apartment complex was just getting back from partying. After a while, I went out to the living room to watch TV. It was now 4 am. The Lakers-Kings game was being repeated on ESPN. The Lakers won. I was miffed. It was now 5:30, the time I was supposed to be getting up. John walked out of his room and saw I was up and watching TV. We talked for a minute and he went back to bed. I was surprised that I wasn’t more tired than I was.
I walked out the door, down the stairs and to my car. I checked to make sure I had everything and then walked out to the apartment access road. I wanted to make sure Jared would find me. As I was waiting, I felt the pavement. It was cold and wet not cold and icy. This was good, I thought, but then realized that we had to go over at least four mountains to get to Alpena and that the mountains’ conditions were anyone’s guess. I started to walk to the other side of the apartment to see if Jared had gone past before I got there. I then saw a car pull in off the road coming my way so I turned back around and walked towards it. I was blinded by the lights and couldn’t tell if it was Jared. I stared at it as it turned into the parking lot. It wasn’t Jared. There were two guys in it staring back at me. They parked and I continued my walk to the other side of the apartment. Jared wasn’t there. I noticed that there was more parking now than when I was living here. I remember many nights, or very early mornings, when I would get back from caving trips only to find the closest parking spot wasn’t close at all. I hated having to lug my dirty clothes in the black trash bag across the parking lot, past the dumpster and up to my third floor apartment. I walked back to the original spot where I had been waiting for Jared. My mind started to fade as I looked into the deep fog that I hadn’t noticed before. I was hungry and wanted to get to Mr. J’s. Another car pulled in. I looked at it intently. It had to be Jared and it was. He rolled down his window and we talked while I walked next to his car heading towards my car. I told him about my morning while I put my stuff in his trunk. I took his bike rake from his trunk and put it in mine to make room. I asked Jared if I should bring the Pendleton County book. He said yes. I got in the car and we started off to Ian’s to get gear.
Jared already had the survey gear and the cable ladder that he picked up the previous day from Carl’s. He had a hard time finding Carl’s house on those backcountry roads. We just picked up two more cave packs and some lights. Another car pulled up in the driveway. It was a couple of Ian’s friends. One asked us if we were just getting back from caving, we said no that we were just about to leave to go caving. He said that was wild and we got in the car. Jared had a hard time backing out because the other car was kind of in the way. He decided that he would just drive through Ian’s back yard to the road back there. Then we were on our way to Sharid’s apartment in the Commons.
I looked at the clock and it was now 5:53. I asked if the clocked was correct because I didn’t think it was that late. It was and I wondered out loud if we were going to make it to Alpena in time. I looked at silver Jared’s mp3 player. It was shaped just like a portable CD player. We went past Brad Ricks’ old apartment and I asked Jared which building caught fire last year. He said it was Sharid’s. By then we were at Sharid’s and Jared parked the car right in from of the steps up to the building. I saw a couple of people carrying snowboards to their cars outside the next apartment building. I watched them for a moment and assumed that they were going to Snowshoe since they were leaving so early. I wanted to go to Snowshoe badly. I almost yelled to ask them if that is were they were going but instead walked up to what I thought was Sharid’s apartment door. It was closed and since I wasn’t sure I turned around to go back to the car. When I did this, I saw the first car of snowboarders go by. Standing on the steps watching them pass, I turned to look for the other. Their doors closed with a thud and they too went by. This was one of the many times in the past few months that I was slapped in the face by the fact that I wasn’t in college anymore. Jared and Sharid came out with some stuff, put it in the car and Sharid went back to get some more. I took the front seat since I thought that Sharid would want to sleep in the back. He got in and we drove off to Mr. J’s.
Sharid told us about his trip to Trout the previous night. Eleven people went. It’s great to hear about so many people still caving this far into the year. The past two years, the two years I was in the club, attendance at meetings and trips fell off dramatically spring semester. Sharid mentioned that he talked with Ian during the trip about getting gear and a GPS system. We were talking about GPS when we got to Mr. J’s.
The GPS discussion continued briefly inside Mr. J’s but trying to decide what we wanted for breakfast soon distracted us. Jared got a cinnamon raisin bagel with humus and some apple juice. Sharid got onion bagels with humus. I ordered bacon, egg and cheese on a whole-wheat bagel and a bottle of chocolate milk. We got them to go. While we waited for our orders, we discussed various caving topics. The discussion was so deep that I didn’t even notice that my order was ready until a couple of minutes after it was on the counter. Walking out of Mr. J’s, Sharid called shotgun. I didn’t mind but Sharid should know that he is going on the list. Back in the car, Jared reminded Sharid that he needed to go use the ATM in Food Lion. Sharid didn’t feel like going now and said he would get some somewhere on the way to Shaver’s.
When we turned onto 33 West from 42, it was 6:38. This gave us almost two and a half hours to get to Alpena. The fog was still thick and made driving difficult. Jared handled it well. We speculated when the sun would come up or if it already was but was being obstructed by the fog. I updated them about Sinnett-Thorn. The update was that I hadn’t heard back from the cave manager. We talked about the future of the club and what plans they had for it.
The top of Shenandoah Mountain was beautiful. The sun still wasn’t out but it was getting brighter. The trees were covered in snow and ice but luckily the road wasn’t. The fog was probably at its worst on the other side of the mountain. We had to go slow and easy. By the time we got down to Bradywine, the visibility was much better. We could even see Fat Boy’s pass by. In Franklin, we stopped at Mean Gene’s. Sharid went in to get money and Jared went but I’m not sure he got anything. I stayed in the car. We went past the Kee’s Cave parking lot and I told them about the trip to Kee’s Cave were I ran out of gas. I’m sure they heard it before but they were nice to amuse an old man. We climbed up the next mountain and again there was snow and ice on the trees. On the way down, we stopped at a pull off to admire the view of Germany Valley but we couldn’t see anything because of the now thinning fog. The sun was beginning to make its presence known. On the tip of the mountain, light now shown. Sharid took a picture of Jared and me. We got back in the car and I looked at the clock, 7:57. I now knew that we would make it on time as long as the roads stayed they way they were.
Going down the mountain from the pull off, I gave Sharid the Pendleton County book and showed him a picture of what Germany Valley looks like without fog. The picture pointed out the location of a couple of big caves in Germany Valley. This sparked a conversation about Hell Hole and Sharid turned to the Hell Hole section of the book, read about it and looked at the pictures. We decided that we wanted to go there one day. That will take more vertical experience and the ability to survey. I then told him about Schoolhouse Cave. He turned to that part of the book. We want to go there too but it is most likely forever closed.
When we got near Ogeno, we started looking for the road Mystic Cave is on. We wanted to see the road so we would know where it was when we came back the next day. We didn’t see the exact name we were looking for but saw a road name that was very close. We decided we would ask the group we were meeting about it.
We climbed up another mountain. At the top there was deep snow on both sides of the road. By the way the snow rested, it was easy to tell that a snowplow had thrown it up there. We crossed the continental divide. The snow on this side would eventually go to the Gulf of Mexico. I wanted to go pee on the side of the road so it too would go to the Gulf of Mexico. On the left, we passed the road to Canaan Valley. We soon passed many cars with skis and snowboards.
Up the final mountain we went. There were brilliant ice formations on both sides of the road. They looked like frozen water falls because that is essentially what they were. We looked for signs that gave the mileage to Alpena but only Bowden and Elkins were shown. Eventually, near the crest of the mountain, we saw the Alpine Lodge. That is where we were to meet the group. We pulled in the snowy parking lot right in front of the door to the restaurant. It was 8:36. I looked through a window of the two story building into the restaurant and thought I recognized someone with a cowboy hat. We sat there in the car wondering if we should go in.
We got out of the car and walked towards the door. Now through the window, I could tell that the man with the cowboy hat was not who I thought it was. We reluctantly opened the door and walked in. There were five booths lining the right wall and two smaller square tables in the middle of the room. In one booth was a lone man with a mustache drinking coffee. In another booth sat three men, one with the cowboy hat. They looked like hunters. On the left was a counter with the register and a coffee maker behind it. Straight ahead, beyond the square tables, was a glass counter with candy bars. Behind that was western saloon style doors through which was what looked like the kitchen. Next to the doorway was a glass door refrigerator filled with soft drinks. The top row had Orange and Grape Crush. I asked the man drinking coffee if he was with the caving group. He said he was. He introduced himself as Rocky. I said I was Chris and we shook hands. Jared and Sharid did the same. We all sat down at the booth and did the typical initial conversation. Where we were from? How long did it take to get there? That sort of thing. He had a hand held GPS with him. He asked if any of us knew how to use it. Sharid had seen one used before but hadn’t used it himself. Neither Jared nor myself had either. Rocky had just borrowed this from his work and had been reading the directions when we arrived but hadn’t gotten it to work. While Rocky, Sharid and Jared talked about the GPS, I scanned the room. It was filled with old objects like guns, saws and mining bits. Up on one wall was a bat sticker. On each corner of the ceiling there was a scene painted on the slats of wood. Three of them I don’t really remember but the forth I remember clearly. It had a caver crawling and right in front of him was what looked like a dinosaur, a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I imagined what I would do if I were in the predicament. I don’t really know but I know for sure that my pee would be going to the Gulf of Mexico. I thought that maybe there was some local legend about a cave monster. I forgot to ask. While I was looking around, Rocky’s breakfast of corned beef hash and biscuits with gravy arrived and Sharid ordered some tea. I looked out the window and it was snowing. Across the road from the Lodge, another road came down from the mountain. From where I was seated, there was a good view of it. I thought that this would be a good place to sit and watch cars sliding down the road and go into the ditch. After I thought about it, I realized that people up here know how to drive in the snow and there would be no cars in ditches. Shortly after this Barry arrived.
Barry sat in the booth behind Rocky and Jared. Rocky asked him what the plans were. Barry wanted to go ridge walking and do a land survey to a cave he had been working on and then do some digging in said cave. They said that there was a cave right across the road and that the cave we were going to dig in connects via a stream to that one. We would be trying to connect them. I asked them if they knew anything about Mystic Cave because we were planning on going there the next day. They didn’t. Rocky and Sharid went to pay for their food. Sharid also bought a Snickers bar.
While we got our gear together, Rocky and Barry went talk to a landowner about ridge walking on his land. Now would be a good time for ridge walking because the caves will be releasing steam allowing us to see them better. I pulled out my overalls. It was rather gross. I hadn’t aired them out since I went to Marshall’s two weeks earlier. They were damp and had some mold growing on the butt. I wiped it in the snow in an effort to get the mold off. I didn’t put any of my outer layer of caving clothes on because we still had to drive wherever we were going. I did put the boots on though. They were wet, too. I gave Sharid my extra pair of long johns, a Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic cap and a pair of rubber palmed gloves. I gave Jared a pair of gloves. Rocky and Barry came back with news that they landowner wasn’t home. They decide that we would just go to the cave and start digging.
Since we were already organized, we watched Rocky. He set up his carbide lamp and got into his caveralls. They were fire engine red. Barry was still getting ready so Rocky drove across the road and parked in a small parking lot and we followed. Rocky had backed in and that made Jared nervous because he wasn’t confident in his reversing skills so I told him to just pull straight in. I got out and put on my damp outer layer. It felt great. Barry came and he also backed in. Jared felt like a jackass. Barry had on his caveralls, too. They may have been a faded red but definitely looked pink. Rocky got out of his truck and said that the Columbia space shuttle broke up on reentry. I told them about my mom’s cousin that was an astronaut and about the time I went down to Florida to see one of his launches. It also reminded me about when the Challenger blew when I was in elementary school and I decided then that I didn’t want to be an astronaut anymore.
We split up the gear and started walking up the mountain on the road. A little ways up the, we saw a cross on a tree where someone apparently died in a car crash. This made me feel bad and self-conscience about my previous thoughts in the restaurant. We passed a house on the left that had a couple of big dogs. Sharid was trying to identify them but said that he didn’t know much about dogs. I didn’t either. Where trees had been on the right there was now field and a fence that ran perpendicular to the road. Barry started off into the snow-covered field. After the initial deep spot on the side of the road from the snowplows, Barry sank in the snow to just below his knee. Sharid follow him. I followed Sharid. Jared followed me and Rocky brought up the rear. Barry was the trailblazer making the hike much easier for the rest of us. A couple of time Sharid broke off from the trail and make his own footprints. Barry stopped a few times to rest because walking through deep snow is tiring. After a couple hundred yards of going slightly downhill, we started going uphill into some trees. The entrance was just ahead down in a sink. I got to the edge of the sink and saw a large amount of steam coming out of it. I had never seen anything like it. Jared tried to make a snow angel in the deep snow but had trouble being that he was no angel.
Barry was the first to go down since he was the only one who had been in the cave. He said that it was tight but I felt I would have no problem due to the fact that Barry is bigger than me. He went to start his carbide but it wasn’t on his helmet. He determined that he left it in his van and took out an electric light. Rocky was next. At the entrance, the steam fogged up his glasses so he had to take them off until we got further into the cave. Jared went next. While Jared was going down the slope of the sink towards the hole, I decided I needed to go to the bathroom. I told Sharid he could go next because I needed to relieve myself. He needed to as well. We walked to opposite sides of the sink. I had peed on snow before but not snow up to my knees. The pee melted the snow quickly and made a tube down into the snow. Soon, I couldn’t see the bottom of the tube because light could not penetrate its infinite deepness. It must have reached the ground. I finished and turned to tell Sharid and saw he had a tube very similar to mine. By then, Jared was through the first climb down so Sharid went down to the hole and slipped in.
I walked down to the hole and stood on a log that had fallen across the pit. It felt incredibly warm standing there. There was an old rusted barrel and other trash in the sink. I saw what seemed to be little animal footprints in the snow in the sink. Their trail didn’t leave the sink though. I thought that maybe they weren’t footprints but places where clumps of snow had fallen from the trees or that it was from an animal that lived in the sinkhole and turned around before it got out of the sink. I was a little apprehensive about going in the hole thinking that a possum or raccoon could be waiting to maul my face. There was an old stump on the edge of the hole. Some of its roots could be seen just in the cave. Snow that had melted from the heat of the air escaping the cave was dripping into the cave. Sharid called to me that I could come down.
I was told to go in feet first. After I stepped down about two feet off the log, I sat down and leaned back to fit in. There was a lot of mud here. It was all topsoil with the color and consistency of brownie batter. Very slick. I slide down a slight decline using my elbows to push me. I put my right elbow down to push and it felt like there were sticks in the mud. I looked and saw that it wasn’t sticks but bones. I again thought about an animal mauling my face. I slide to the first climb down and Sharid told me not to come down because there wasn’t room. Jared was still climbing down the second climb down. Barry and Rocky told Jared to climb belly down. He did but also went face first, which was a mistake. I could see Jared’s feet sticking up out of a hole. I heard quite a bit of laughter coming from Barry and Rocky but I didn’t really know what was going on. I passed a cave pack down to Sharid. Jared finally made it down and Sharid started making sure he went feet first on his belly. I started to climb down the first climb down. I saw an old bottle in the mud. Whiling I was climbing down, I felt something slipping in the mud. Before I could yell rock, it had hit Sharid’s helmet. No harm, no foul. I thought that it was the bottle but after Sharid finished climbing down, I saw that it was a bone. There were bones everywhere. I climbed down the next climb down with Sharid’s help with placements of footholds. I now saw where Jared had gone down face first and wondered how he made it without falling. At the time, I was really impressed that he made it. We went down another hole that opened up into a room.
The room had a stream on the right and a big dirt bank that we sat on. The ceiling was flat with numerous bats scattered around. Barry changed his batteries because his light was fading. It took him a while to get to work and we offered him one of our back ups. I’m not sure what happened but he got it working better. Barry then led Rocky and Jared down a little crawl next to the stream. Sharid and I noticed that we could get to where they were going without crawling on rocks next to the creek. We went up on a ledge about chest high. Sharid had a cave back and I had a crowbar. Barry was carrying his stuff, which included a drill, Rocky carried his stuff. The cave opened up into walking stream passage. It was exciting to be on a dig and actually be in a cave. Every other dig I have been on was at the entrance trying to get into a cave. This cave reminded me of Aqua because of the stream but parts of it looked like the water passage in Bowden because the passage would narrow to two or three feet but then it would widen again. Bats like the walls of the passage. We had to climb over break down and a few places. At one of these places, Barry worked on his light again. I stepped back using the crowbar as a walking stick so Shared could step down because he was starting to slip on the mud slope. Barry fixed his lamp and we continued. We got a place where we had to squeeze through some breakdown, instead of climbing over it. This was the dig site.
Jared, Sharid and I explored the breakdown for a couple of minutes looking for lead but didn’t find anything we could fit through. Then we went back to the room before the breakdown to wait. We turned off our lights and Jared proclaimed it to be the virgin lights out of the cave.
Sharid and I went to the blast site to move the freshly digged limestone. I welcomed this because I had grown quite cold and wanted to get moving to warm up. Sharid moved some rocks and a rather large one got wedged in a vertical crack that we couldn’t move. It didn’t get in our way from moving more rocks so I crawled up into the slot. I started handing Sharid rocks between my legs. I was in an awkward position so getting the rocks to Sharid was hard. We got as much as we could and Barry took our place. He got the wedge rock out easily and that pissed Sharid and me off. Something that the both of us couldn’t get out, Barry picked up with ease. We will not forget. I was concerned for Jared because he didn’t get to move some rocks and warm up. He was shivering. Rocky was going to show us how he refueled his carbide but looked at it and decided the flame was still going strong.
I laid down with my head propped up on a rock and turned my light off. I all I could hear was the babbling creek. I started to get cold but my mind wondered off in the darkness so it didn’t bother me. I kept on imagining that something was in there with me but I didn’t dare turn on my light. Women’s voices mixed in with the sound from the creek. A flash of light coming out from the breakdown woke me from my daze. It was Jared coming back. He had become even more cold and I also felt cold. I told him to try to refrain from shaking. He said that was stupid because shaking warms you up. I agreed but not shaking requires will and total control over you body, which I think, may come in handy sometime. I did this for a while before I stood up to join him in shaking. I showed him how to do mountain climbers to stay warm. He would have nothing to do with them. While we were standing, I noticed what looked like a quarter stuck in the wall but didn’t think much of it. Rocky pointed out a corral fossil.
Everyone else grabbed what we brought in and started to leave just as I saw some smoke. Sharid was first then me, Jared, Rocky and Barry. We got to a breakdown climb over. After Sharid climbed over, I went up. I took the ammo box from Jared so he could start climbing. I turned around and told Jared to watch out for the hole but his visibility was already compromised so I left them behind to catch up with Sharid.
It was so cold walking through the stream. Sharid and I walked quickly, occasionally turning around to see if the rest were catching up. I stepped on what I thought was solid rock but wasn’t and almost took a mighty fall. We then got to a stream junction and decide that to the left was the way out. We chose wisely. Soon we were back to the first room we entered. I dropped the crowbar and sat down. Sharid sat down to my left. We decided to wait here for the rest because sitting in the cave is much warmer than sitting in the snow. We turned off our lights and waited. To kill time we talked about our life dreams. Sharid said he either wanted to be a ballet dancer or to be my personal assistant. I said I just wanted to get married and make babies but not necessarily in that order.
After about 15 minutes of silence, we heard sloshing of water and could see faint beams of light. We could see their heads go by through a small gap and soon enough they were with us. They had gotten caught in the smoke and waited for it to pass only to catch up with it shortly after it had passed. Is that irony? After hearing about their reasons for being behind, we headed out.
Sharid went first. He crawled up the first hole and started to climb up the next climb. I crawled up and Jared passed up some equipment. I then passed this equipment up to Sharid. Jared crawled up and I climbed up where Jared had come down face first. I asked him how he made it down face first and he told me that he had leaned pretty much all his weight on Rocky. Sharid heard what we were talking about and we both laughed at Jared’s expense. Rocky and Barry passed the last of the equipment to Jared who passed it up to me. I had to use the crow bar to hook the pack with the heavy drill in it. I handed a few things up to Sharid who had gone up the last climb before the entrance. Jared climbed up to where I was, I made the last climb up and Sharid climbed out. Jared passed the rest of gear to me and I handed a few things to Sharid before I climbed out. It was snowing.
It was great to be out but that wouldn’t last long. Rocky was having difficulties making the second climb. I went back and got the last of the gear and Jared helped Rocky up. Jared tried to climb out through a small crack but that wasn’t going to happen so he backtracked and found the right way out. While this was going on, Sharid took a picture of me at the entrance and we hauled all the gear up out of the pit. Jared was now out and we each grabbed what we brought and headed back to the car.
Jared took off first like a man on a mission. We were all cold, wet and incredibly muddy. Sharid removed most of his clothing and was walking around in a t-shirt. He is one tough mother f….; Shut your mouth; But I was just talking about Sharid; Then I can dig it. I followed Jared. He was leaving behind a trail of brown mud in the white snow. The contrast of the brown in the white field was remarkable. I caught up to Jared and passed him when he stumbled and fell in the snow.
I got to the road and couldn’t feel my feet. Not just because I had gloves on and my feet were in boots but because they were numb. Jared and I walked down the road together. It felt as if my feet weren’t there and bricks had replaced them. We both decided that we didn’t want to stay the night because we were so wet and dirty and our clothes would remain that way. We passed the house with the dogs and Jared noticed someone peeping at us through the window. It was an old man. I then noticed that someone else was watching us through the small window at the top of the closed wood door. We couldn’t make out who was at the door but Jared saw that the old man was in his underwear. Jared started to run because he said he was cold. I knew it was because the old man scared him. Around that time, Sharid caught up with me so I wasn’t alone long. We turned around a couple of time to see if Rocky and Barry were coming but we never saw them.
Back at the car, Jared was already changing. Sharid and I became dumbfounded at where to begin. Everything was muddy. Jared put on my jeans thinking they were his and got them muddy. I threw him down and shoved his face in the snow after he took my pants off. Changing was difficult. We had to walk in the snow with only our socks on. My feet were still numb so this didn’t bother me much. Rocky and Barry made it back while we changed. Sharid finished before me so I had to put everything in the trunk. By the time I got in the car, it was nice and warm. We talked some more about staying but stayed with our previous decision to go back to Harrisonburg.
We told Barry, who was changing in his van next to us, that we weren’t going to stay because our clothes were wet and muddy. He half jokingly said that we could go to a car wash and clean them. He said that they were going back to the restaurant across the street to eat and that we should join them. We agreed.
We all drove back across the street and I went in with Rocky and Barry. Jared and Sharid stayed behind to put some pants on because they had only been in their boxers sitting in the car. The dining room was decorated quite rustic. There were bear rugs on the ceiling, a stuffed bear in the corner and various other logging and mining items hanging on the wall. It reminded me of a restaurant back home. We all used to bathroom, one by one, to clean up. Barry, Rocky and I had already ordered by the time Sharid and Jared had cleaned up. Barry and I wanted chili but they were out. Instead, Barry got a steak sub, Rocky a hamburger and I got a roast beef sandwich and mashed potatoes all smothered in gravy. It was so good. I want one right now. I had hot chocolate to drink. Sharid’s beverage was quite interesting. He walked over to the beer refrigerator and grabbed a Guinness. The server came over and asked us if she needed to check Sharid’s ID. He said no as did Barry. I turned away and tried not to look the server in the eyes because I couldn’t lie to those beautiful eyes. The other two convinced her so I was relived from the burden. Jared and Sharid, being vegan and vegetarian, respectively, didn’t have much to choose from. Jared just had fries. Sharid had vegetable soup and fries.
While we were waiting for our food, Barry showed us the map of the cave and the cave we were trying to connect it to. It looks to be very close. Another land survey needs to be done to align the maps properly. Rocky then talked to us about other caves in the area that have been connected through dye traces. It looks really promising. I would like to come back some time when it gets warmer. Maybe then, we could do what we had planned to do this weekend. After exchanging email addresses and eating we parted ways with Barry and Rocky. It was still snowing as we pulled out of the parking lot. The ride back was uneventful but I got to ride in the front seat. Yippie.
**This trip report has been modified to protect the guilty.