At 9AM, we embarked on our journey with the hopes to explore Onesquethaw Cave. However, as we drove to NY, clouds started to cover the sky, and by 11AM, it had started to rain. Onesquethaw has the potential to flood in high water conditions, and develops a fast flow after rain and in snow melt season. So we weren't too hopeful by the time we got to Clarksville, where we stopped to go to the bathroom before driving over to the cave entrance a couple miles away. However, it had stopped raining, the sun was out, and we were in high spirit.
Entering the cave, I discovered that the water level was a couple of inches higher than the last time I had visited. However, the flow was not unmanageable, so I decided to lead the rest of the group in. The cascades formed by the high water was gorgeous, and we continued down the water passage, chimneying and stemming over the water flow.
We eventually got to a point where the cave opened up slightly, dropping 10' over the course of 20' of cascades. The water here was white and strong, creating a hydraulic in the narrow chute. We decided that reversing the chute would be difficult at best, and that we were not prepared for it. So we took a length snack break, and turned around.
But our day was not over yet. We headed over to Clarksville, with the intent to explore it's little sister, Ladder Dig Cave. With the aid of a cable ladder and some rope(webbing) tricks, (including Jes body rappelling on webbing), we safely descended down to the small tight cave. We spent a while cramming everyone into a tiny side passage, and pushed another tiny small passage, and then (finally) found the main passage that led to room with an active dig and some small cave formations.
We ascended out of the cave using the cable ladder, where we discovered that we were in the cave longer than we expected. The sun had gone down, and the air temperature had dropped. It wasn't freezing, but it was definitely not comfortable temperature.
But we still had a little more adventure in us, so we headed over to Clarksville Cave proper, to go take a quick tour of Gregory Section, the "wet" side of Clarksville Cave. We were short on time, only intending to spend a little less than an hour in Clarksville Cave, so I took the group through the Gregory Ward Connection and ran over the the main water passage that leads to the waterfalls. The waterfall is a not very high, sporting only 2' or so of elevation drop, but it is on the order of 20'~30' wide and is quite a pleasant surprise. It also solves the mystery of where you here all the water sounds from in Clarksville Cave. Here, we washed off some of the mud off our layers, and returned to the Ward Entrance.
Three caves in one day. A superb trip with an awesome group, despite the questionable weather condition.
Report by Itaru