The Annual Halloween Trip to Clark’s
Oct. 28, 2001
by Chris Woodley
I woke up around what I thought was 9am. I thought to myself that three hours was a long time to wait because I was very excited. I could hardly go to bed the night before. So, I made breakfast (eggs, toast and orange juice) and watched some Sportscenter. Around 10, I found out that what I thought was 10 was actually 9 and that I had really got up at 8 which really sucks. So now I was pissed, real pissed. I had to wait three hours to wait again. It was like time stood still for an hour. Finally, noon came. On the drive to Burruss, I thought about possibly rappelling down to the entrance but that thought soon left as I remembered quite a few people signed up for the trip. As I pulled up to Burruss, I saw two bums leaning against the recycle boxes. I was startled as one of them moved when I approached. I recognized them both as Angela and Thomas. I thought for sure that everyone else was inside because it was cold outside but as it turns out they were the only ones there. We decided to wait a while because the night before was the big party at Carl’s. A helicopter took off from the hospital. It took a long time which surprised me a bit. As we waited, Thomas fell asleep. Then Angela and I discussed the possibility of maybe rappelling down the cliff if it was only the three of us. We decided it was a good idea. At 12:20 we left for Ian’s to get gear, just us three. We got some ropes, vertical gear, the cave pack and a compass. Off we went for Clark’s but not before a stop at Walmart for some flagging tape (the last reel of flagging tape got washed with my caving clothes and made a nice ball of orange around the clothes in the washer).
The drive was fun. Last Thursday, I took my car to the shop because all the gauges on the dashboard went dead. They diagnosed the problem and ordered a new dashboard controller for me. They assured me that it would be fine to drive without any gauges. The problem was intermittent so sometimes the gauges would work, sometimes not. This happened to be one of the times they didn’t. We were cruising down 42 without a clue of our speed, passing cars all over the place. If we were pulled over, we figured we had a pretty good excuse for speeding because the speedometer didn’t work. After we passed this one car, I looked down and noticed that the gauges were working again. This ruined everything so I started pounding the dashboard to get them to cut off again but to no avail. To pass the time Angela took out her metallic crayons and construction paper and drew. She drew a sequence of me falling off the rope during the repel to my death. It was really good. While all this was happening Thomas was sleeping in the back. On the road to Clark’s, McClung Hill Road, I think, Angela thought she saw a cow that had just given birth. Cool stuff.
We pulled up the the Clark’s house to ask permission and sign the log book. I went alone. I knocked on the door a couple of times and no one showed up. I took this as a sign that it was ok to go. I got back in the car and up the hill we went. We parked behind a barn and stacked bails of hay around the car to conceal it. We took the all the vertical gear over to the cliff. After looking around a bit, we found a good place to repel. It was a hole in the ground near the cliff. I can’t really explain it in writing so I’ll try to do it better when I’m reading this. We decided that it was a good 250 feet repel. Well, at least Angela and I did. Thomas thought it was more like 70 to 80 feet. He has horrible depth perception and wasn’t even wearing his super thick glasses so what does he know. We decided to let Angela be the first one to test, I mean, repel. We heard screams but they were screams of joy. Thomas was next then me, your humble narrator. So then me and my two droogs went through this one pass and to where we entered the cave last year. We actually didn’t enter that entrance but the one next to it. Clark’s has about 34 entrances. After a while we found a passage that went into the meat of the cave. Before we went down it, we took out the compass and got the general direction that the cliff was because Brad had told me that if you ever get lost in Clark’s just go in the direction of the cliff and you’ll get out. We finally did some caving.
In the cave, I started flagging everything because it is pretty maze like. We keep turning and stuff but then decided to just take a seam and go towards the back. I continued flagging. Clark’s is a pretty cool cave. It has a decent amount of formations but they are all covered in black. I assume this is because of the mining that was done there. Not to deep into the cave we got to a pretty big room with a couple of leads going out from it. Angela took one and it ended pretty soon so she took another one and I took one. Mine ended soon after that and Angela’s became really tight so she came back. There was another lead that was above the one Angela had just checked so she climb up there and checked it out. Thomas and I keep hearing things falling and stuff so we would yell to see if Angela was alright. She always was but this happened about 5 times. It ended and Angela had fun coming back making sure not to fall to her death. There may have been one more lead out of the room but there almost no way to get to it so we headed out the way we came. One more thing about that room, Thomas found some cool rocks and played some beautiful music. He is a great singer, too. Yeah, so we went out of that room and checked out some other leads that didn’t go anywhere and lights out just materialized out of nothing. The topic of discussion was mainly movies. You know just the classics like “A Clockwork Orange”, “Transformers: The Movie” and “Uncle Sam Wants You….Dead.” This made us tired so we decided it was time to head out.
We followed the magnificent flagging job but then mysteriously we got to a room and couldn’t find the next piece of tape. I decided that we would go this way. I kept on going not seeing any tape and not flagging this new area that we hadn’t been to. After a while, I decided to take out the compass and take a look. I led us toward what I thought would be the exit. Eventually, we got to this one room. It was getting pretty ridiculous. Angela and Thomas waited there for me to check out this crawl that I thought looked pretty promising. It lead to a maze like area with three foot tall ceiling. Fun. I made it back to the group and decided that we better go back and try to find where we last saw a piece of tape. After asked what our chances of finding that spot was, I replied “We might possibly find it if we’re lucky but we have enough batteries and stuff to last us a day, maybe.” After a couple minutes of my heroic leading, Angela and Thomas said that we were back in the room that we made the decision to go back to the place we last saw the tape. After I realized that I had led us in a big circle, I started screaming ” I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die” over and over again. Angela back handed me and said “Pull yourself together, son. No one is going to die. Not on my watch.” I calmed down and wiped the tears from my eyes and the blood from my mouth. Angela took over control from the former cowardly leader, we won’t mention any names. She calmly lead us out like she did it all the time. She is my hero. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful except for the ascend back up the cliff. That was awesome. We got back to the car but it wasn’t there. So that ends that trip except that we had some Stewart’s Root Beer and Cheez Its. That stuff is so good.