MUSG Trip Report

Wish We Had More Time
Byers Cave in TAG
Oct. 6, 2007
by Nikki Fox

It was the second full day at the Cave-In, and Chris and I had a couple vertical caves under our belts and were looking for a good horizontal cave to get into with Morgan and Kelton. (We felt really bad leaving her at SERA all alone to fend for herself during the summer, never getting underground with her.) So upon visiting SCCi’s cave-guru Andy Zelner, we had the Byers Cave cave map on the Fox Mountain Cave Preserve in our hands to visit. We were happy since the access and cave itself warded off the wimps. We were told to walk about a mile up a little mountain and follow a so-so trail to the entrance in a gully. Andy told us to expect a lot of chimneying, canyoning and bring a piece of webbing for a handline. Sounded good to us!

After arousing Morgan and Kelton, we stuffed the car with gear and hit the road. Minor problems with directions, we arrive about 30 minutes later than planned. The parking area was packed. But no worries, there were about 10 caves on the property, and most of the people would be bouncing the pit.

We followed the trail until there was none. Bushwhacking then ensued. Then some blue flagging tape that we followed.

Then the men decided to ditch the gear and head out to find this mysterious gully. Chris returned about five minutes later with the way. After walking about 300 feet down into a steep gully, we were drenched in sweat and eager to enter the cool cave.

There was at least one group who entered before us that we knew of. Less traffic the better for us, we all said. About 30 minutes of caving, I found a tight squeeze. It was about 7.5-8 inches tall. Kelton was the first to try it and was unsuccessful. He should have taken off those pants, I say! Morgan peeped in and slipped right through the hole. I was next and then Kelton had to try again to his success. Chris was the last in. We sat in a tiny room with a couple of leads that really didn’t go anywhere, but the squeeze was fun.

We pushed onward and found the canyons. Maneuvering safely through them involved quite a bit of teamwork. Soon after, we found the wall we needed webbing for. It was about a 30-foot wall with few handholds that led to a little rock wedged in between the canyon walls. The group before us was just making their way out. I felt severely inadequate with our 25 feet of 1-inch webbing after seeing they were using about 70 feet of 11mm rope. They left and pulled their rope, leaving a group still down the canyon. It was up to us to now find them and make sure they exited before we did.

A few belly crawls later and some mazy canyons we found more rope! Oh no, we had no more webbing! After scoping out the different leads that lead about 60 feet downward, Chris lead us through the maze. Again, teamwork was key here since we had no handlines. We found the other group at the register (a.k.a. the urinal) in a huge bore-hole passage, unlike any of the cave we had seen thus far. The other group headed out, pulling their rope after them. We headed up the huge walking passage filled with breakdown to the formation room. And did we find them!

We found several large holes in the floor. Also, a section of about 100 feet that was highly decorated with growing stalagmites, stalactites, columns, soda straws, flowstones and drapery. We stopped for photos and exploration. We had hunger for more so pushed onward. Several minutes later we were rewarded. To our amazement we found a column spanning about 100 feet from the ceiling to the floor and was about 40 feet at the base! Amazing!

“This is the biggest formation I’ve ever seen!” hollered Morgan.

We, again, went our different ways looking at the beautiful sights and taking photos. But it all had to end too soon for there was the door prizes in just a couple hours back at the campsite. So we gathered and hauled back towards the entrance. Kelton was of great use to us all getting back up the canyon (his long legs.) We were overjoyed to find our webbing still in tact so we could get out.

We exited the cave and walked back to my car to find that we were indeed the last one on the preserve. Unfortunately, none of us won any of the door prizes back at camp, specifically the coveted 600 feet of pit rope. If we would have known that, we would have pushed our trip further in and seen the waterfall. Perhaps another time, another TAG.