Trip Leaders: Chris Coates and Nikki Fox
Trip Attendees: Morgan Ward, Kelton Russenberger and Jeremy Vandeventer.
On Saturday morning, we all met in Harrisonburg, Va., before heading over the mountain into West Virginia. It was a nice, warm day and some bugs were already out. We arrived to the parking area, changed and waived to a man in the gray house across the street. Walking up to the cave, the stream crossing was very high due to all the rain the previous day and that morning. We were just happy it wasn’t raining our way up to the cave since rigging in the rain is the pits!
We rigged two ropes in the pit. We knew our 325-foot rope would reach the bottom. We also brought a new 200-foot rope with us to test out. We were not sure of the actual depth since every source out there (written or verbal) seems to be different. After three wraps around the tree, the 200 was lowered and rappelled to find out it was about 10 feet from the bottom.
Once we all got down, we took off our vertical gear to explore, take some photos and check out the bats. Some of the images I took using flash bulbs. Unfortunately, I think that the images taken in the entrance room, woke some of the bats.
There were some bats, a few in small clusters in the entrance room. I would say about 50 or so bats made up of pipistrelles, northerns (I think, but I’m no bat expert) and little browns. Walking to the right, there were many pips and northerns in the formations and helictites.
No sign of WNS at all. No dead bats, no erratic bats at the entrance. All is well!
On our way out, we took more photos as several people in our group wanted to bounce the pit. We counted 6 classic cave (the orange ones) and black with white speckles salamanders at the bottom of the pit. We were out of the cave after 8 hours. It was a great trip!