After a filling breakfast at Mr. J’s, we arrived at the cave around 12:45 greeted by lots of bright-eyed Boy Scouts, heads topped with bicycle helmets and duct taped lamps. No one in the group (Jared, Sharid, Jon, Abby, Chris, and the Freshman (aka Rachel)) had been to the cave before. Rich, the alumni, might have been there before but he didn’t show up. Sharid said experienced cavers had gotten lost for days in the maze but we’d be cool since we had a map and tape. Plus Jared had his roommate ready to call the police if we weren’t back by midnight.
We logged in and made the 20ft hike to the entrance of New Trout. In the first large room, there were about 20 scouts checking out bats and a rat’s nest. We pressed onward to an even larger room where we had a quick lights out. The beginning of the maze was not too far past the back of the room and Sharid started laying down tape. Jared took over the taping job however since Sharid couldn’t take Jared’s nagging about where to lay the tape. The cave had some good climbing but was dry and dusty and nary a formation in sight. We continued through the maze and got to a nice little room to have another lights out. Jon passed out vegan cookies and macadamia nuts while Rachel tried to convince us that she could really see her hand and outlines of our shadows. We decided to go a little further and try to find the dusty crawl- a section of the cave where dust masks were recommended. I don’t even remember if we got there or not, but either way we turned around eventually and made our way back. It was easy coming back thanks to Jared’s obsessive taping. Our progress slowed when we got to Sharid’s taped section but we still made it out.
It was only around 3o’clock when we exited so Jared wanted to make a trip to the square room in Trout, but we decided to just chill in the Trout entrance and soak in the sun and view. On the way back we decided to stop by Switzer dam and walk around a little. We started going down the road to the dam when Jared stopped his car because he didn’t think his Civic would make it down the snowy/icy/muddy road, so we all crammed into my big fat Avalon and slowly headed down. The snow on the road continually scraped the underbody of the car, but everyone was convinced that it was just snow and that the car was probably getting a nice cleaning. At the end of the road there was a big mess of ice, snow and eerie blood-red mud. After walking to the water we came back to turn the car around, which was surprisingly easy with the help of everyone pushing. We made it back up fairly easy, except that Abby thought that the car might be leaking coolant. Hopefully my car doesn’t blow up driving home for spring break.