Part 1: Monotony and Driving
The fortnight from hell was halfway over and talk of a great trip to a new cave had started. Angela, the person of many contacts, had directions to numerous caves and was put in charge of picking where we would go that weekend. Later in the week at the meeting, it was announced that there would be a trip to a cave that had not been visited by many in the club but that cave had yet to be determined. We would meet at 11 am behind Burruss. I pulled up at 11:04 and didn’t see anyone. They were smart and were all inside, protected from the cold drizzle. Inside were the three J’s; Jared, Julie and John, as well as Angela, Ali and Thea. Rumor had it that Brad was coming but Angela told us rumor was wrong.
We were ready to go but had one problem, one car and seven people. Ali solved the problem by getting her car. She, Julie and Thea went to get Ali’s car and I took the rest to Ian’s to get gear. I still had two helmets from Thursday’s trip to Trout in my trunk. We needed three more helmets. Luckily, we found three helmets but only zero lights. Ali and Julie went in to see if Ian had any. While they were doing this, Angela mentioned that a four-wheel drive vehicle was needed for a less strenuous hike to the cave. Ali came through again with her Ford Explorer or Ford Exploder, as I like to call it.
After a while, I went inside to see if Ali and Julie were having any luck. I walked into Ian’s room to see Ali and Julie rummaging through Ian’s underwear. They said they thought there were some helmets in there. After I doubled checked his underwear drawer, we went back outside. Angela and I then checked downstairs. Again, no luck. We decided to go check the Gingerbread House. We arrived and all climbed up the spiral stairs. Good fun. Angela knocked and we waited. No one came so we walked right in. (It’s really nice how everyone leaves their doors unlocked.) We looked for helmets but didn’t find any. What we did find was a climbing wall. It’s pretty bad ass. Ali, Angela and Julie played on the wall wile the rest of us enjoyed some birthday cake and hot cocoa. We sat down and had a nice break. At this point, we decided to see if we could have any better luck with Curt. I had a feeling we would.
We pulled up behind Hoffman and Angela got out in the rain and called Curt. He eventually came down with two helmets and two lights. This was a good score for the team but we were still one short. Off to Brad’s we went. Ali and Julie accompanied me up to Brad’s posh apartment. We knocked on the door. The door gives quite a bit when you push on it. Brad’s roommate answered the door and we came in. Eventually, Brad came out and greeted us. We asked him if he wanted to go to Cave Mountain Cave. He said yes but he couldn’t because he had work to do. Then he said he would go. Then finally, he said no. Then he asked why the trip wasn’t announced at the meeting. I said that it was but that the destination wasn’t decided until Friday. It seemed like he wanted to punch me in the face. We all got to talking about things besides caving and what not. Soon, it was after 12 and we remembered that we were going caving and still needed another helmet. At this time Ali decided she wasn’t going to go because she had to work later so we didn’t need another helmet. This solution to one problem created another. Now we had one car and six people. Thea graciously dropped out and we no longer had any problems or so we thought. We finally got on the road at around 12:27 with destination unknown except that it was known and it was Cave Mountain Cave. To recap, after a long and arduous search for gear we had enough gear but lost two team members. The team now consisted of the three J’s; Jared, Julie and John, Angela and your humble narrator.
Cave Mountain Cave is outside of Upper Tract, which is north of Franklin on 220. The trip there was rather uneventful until we got to the road where we turn off of 220. Their boredom transformed into excitement. The only problem was the directions. They were kind of vague but that did not bring the group down, yet. We pulled off the road onto a muddy driveway. We fallowed the directions and turned left over the limestone. There we saw a car parked in the way. There were two choices, run over the car or go off roading. After the several unsuccessful attempts of running the car over, we went off roading around it. Julie had to move a big stick. It was great. After that we turned left through some gates and soon after that we stopped and parked. We could have gone further but I chose not to because it was still raining and there was a low area that looked really muddy. I didn’t want a repeat performance of a trip from last year that nobody remembers because I don’t think anyone on that trip is still in the club.
We all changed and there were numerous complaints about how cold it was. Did I mention that it was still raining? It had also gotten really foggy. We had about 100 yards of visibility. Angela got out the directions and immediately the ink started to run. We had to hurry. From the directions, we gathered that the cave was at the top of a mountain. We started on a trail that ran parallel to a fence. This trail went on forever up the mountain, the end never in sight. We got to a flat spot and thought that it was the top but we thought wrong. At this point we climbed over the fence, now walking on the left of it. From here the trail and the fence parted way. It was very sad. The trail kept going up. Soon we got to a clearing and saw the first sign that we were on the right trail. The directions said that there would be some yellow flagging tape with "CMC" written on it. We saw exactly this. The only mystery about this was what the "CMC" meant. I guess we’ll never know.
From here the directions got kind of shaky. They said to look up to your right and you can see some cliffs and that is the destination. Then it said to find the water sumps and follow those down to the cave. These were in opposite directions. It didn’t help it was really foggy and we couldn’t really see anything that was being described. We went off the trail and down the hill following the water sumps. Well, none of us were sure what water sumps were but we followed what we thought could be water sumps.
These led downhill quite a way. We went through this cool grass stuff that reminded us of something but I can’t remember what it was right now. Maybe someone can remind me what it reminded us of. Anyway, we went way downhill almost all the way to the river. Well, not quite all the way but we could see it. John and Jared searched all over this area for anything that could be a cave but to no avail. Back up the hill a little ways, John or Julie or Jared or Angela spotted a very cool looking ridge of rocks. It looked very promising so we went for it.
Climbing up this rock outcrop was tiring. Angela and John tried to swing up on some vines but somehow this didn’t work. John and Julie went straight up the rocks while the rest of us took the low road at the base of the rocks. A couple of minutes later there was the sound of rocks tumbling and then Julie screaming "rock!" Julie had unleashed a heat seeking death rock towards the lower group. I was far enough away that it wasn’t going to get me but I still had a very good view of the whole situation. Jared moved forward and up from danger. Angela was in a low spot and couldn’t see the rock but could hear it. She ran in my direction as fast as she could and looked to be clear. It’s a good thing she didn’t stop because the rock took a sudden turn towards Angela. It was like a scene from a movie. Angela running towards me and the rock going right for her. There was a young sapling about three feet from the base of the rocks. As Angela ran between the sapling and the rock base, the heat seeking death rock passed about two feet behind her and crashed into a large tree. There the death rock would stop. The rock was about the size of a pumpkin and did some nice damage to the tree. I walked up the rock because I wanted to pick it up and throw it done the rest of the mountain only I couldn’t pick it up so I settled for pushing it instead.
We climbed up to the top of the rocks and rested a bit. We still had yet to find the cave or anything that resembles a cave. A lesser group of cavers would have called it quits but not us, well not them, I would have stopped when we got out of the car and it was raining. We trudged our way back to the trail, almost dying multiple times from wet leaves. Back at the trail we decided to following it up the mountain. We soon saw another piece of flagging tape and there were shouts of joys. And then there was another piece and soon we were at the entrance. From the point where we went off the trail to the cave is maybe 15 minutes but it took us about an hour and a half. Good times.
The entrance to the cave is gated because it is closed for most of the spring, summer and fall because of bats. We took a little break before we entered and we all had a good laugh as someone pretended to push someone else off the cliff.
Part 2: Despair and Caving
We finally made it to the entrance and there was a scream. At least, I think I might remember there being a scream. I vaguely recall someone trying to push someone else of the mountain but I could be making this all up. We all entered the cave through the biggest gate I have ever had the pleasure to enter. Actually, the door for the gate was rather small and I had a hard time getting my big ass through it but I did.
Once you get in the cave, it is huge walking passage. I was in the rear and checked out a lead that went up and to the left. It kept on going but wasn’t nearly as big. Alas, I turned around and caught up with the group. There was quite a bit of walking similar to the beginning of Trout. Eventually, we entered an area with huge boulders and deep pits. It was kind of hard to get over the big boulders. They were the size of some rooms in other caves. I decided to go a different way down around one of these boulders. That was a mistake. I had to squeeze between two boulders and slide down. At this time, I received a wonderful gift of having a wedgie and a Melvin simultaneously. Jared and Julie were going to follow me but quickly decided not to. They are pretty smart. I kept on sliding because there was no way for me to go up and I ended up having to fall four feet because the boulders ended before they reached the floor. It was great. After I composed myself, I climbed back up with the rest of the group.
Around here was the register room. This room was gigantic. It had even bigger boulders and deeper pits. It was more like these boulders were wedged halfway to the floor and the pits were just gaps that went to the floor. We took a small break and then went on our way, always pressing forward. I also found some Skoal that I put in my pocket for safekeeping. There were more big boulders with some really tricky climbs. Really fun stuff.
Soon, we left the big room behind us. Angela led the group to a some what small, hunched over passage. I decided that I didn’t like to be hunched over so I went down the walking passage that appeared to run parallel to their passage. I was glad I did. I soon heard many grunts and heavy breathing. Their passage had become a crawl. We could talk to each other but there was no visually contact. I went forward more to see if I could find where the crawl came out. I made it to the Hash Room. I knew it was this because it said so on the wall. I went under a rock and I could hear the group really well. Soon, I saw Jared’s light. To get to me they had to go through a very tight squeeze. They all had their own techniques to get through. It was very entertaining to watch. While we were waiting for people to get through, it took everyone a couple of minutes to get into the room, someone, I think Angela, said that she would lick the wall for $20. Jared then countered, saying he would do it for $10. At this time John crawled into the room. He heard the discussion and licked the wall for nothing. This pissed off Angela and Jared. I just pissed my pants. Angela and Jared wanted to make some money and John went and did it for no money. When Julie came through, we told her that all of us had licked the wall and that she had to if she wanted to be cool. She didn’t fall for it. Disappointed, we continued on.
This part of the cave wasn’t nearly as big but it was still walking passage. Then it wasn’t walking passage. I crawled through a squeeze into a very dusty and uncomfortable room that wasn’t much of a room. It was so tight I had to lie on my back and I couldn’t turn my head. I looked forward but it looked as if it only got smaller. There was a slope down to the right. I slid head first down it. It didn’t go far. My feet were still up where my head had previously been. There was a hole down here but there was no way to fit through it. I could see that on the other side there was a fairly nice sized room. I maneuvered my way back up the slope and out to the group. While I was doing this I told the team that there was a room just to the left of them and they easily found it. We continued deeper into the cave. A little ways further, we got to what seemed like a dead end. I was content with this. Apparently, I was the only one. Jared and John proceeded to climb up and found passage to another room. Angela and Julie were fast on their heels. I sat down. They messed around in there for a while. They reported that it kept on going but soon returned to the room I was in via a small hole. They have a real knack for finding small holes. Here we turned around and headed back.
The way back was rather uneventful. There were some difficulties climbing back over all the big boulders but nothing we couldn’t handle. As we got back close to the entrance, Angela and I were quite a ways in front of the rest. We exited through the gate and decided it would be fun to try and lock the rest of the team in the cave. I tried to close the gate but I couldn’t figure out how to latch it. We tried to Jerry rig it with a stick but Jared proved to smart for that and quickly freed the group from our crud prison. We all sat down and took a quick break. I was tossing everyone some water when there was another scream.
Part 3: The Remembering
It is now September 24, 2002 as I write this. This is the third and final chapter to the glorious trip to Cave Mountain Cave. The original plan was to write three chapters for the trip and then read them at three consecutive club meetings but as often happens, things didn’t go as planned. In fact, only part of the first chapter was read due to time constraints. The second chapter was never read and the third chapter was left incomplete and was lost, never to be seen again. I stumbled upon the first two chapters on my old computer while looking for stuff to transfer over to another computer. It seems pretty lame to finish the final chapter now but that is what I am going to attempt because I am lame.
It wasn’t really raining anymore. We walked back to the car. We left. On the way back, we stopped at the gas station where 33 continues west and 220 north. We were on the hunt for root beer, Stewart’s Root Beer. They had none but they did have something that peaked Jared’s interest, pork rinds. He had never had them before. The rest of us passed when offered some. We, instead, got donuts, oatmeal crème pies and the like. We continued on to the "Liquor" 7-11 but found no Stewart’s. Then onto Mean Gene’s where we settled for IBC and washed our hands with the incredible moisturizing soap in Mean Gene’s bathroom. We went home after that and our marvelous trip to Cave Mountain Cave was over.