After a long night of decontaminating potentially WNS-infected gear (slightly more interesting than watching paint dry), we met up bright and early at 8:15am ready to explore Ken's Kave. Well, everyone except our trip leader. Itaru showed up a few hours later, and we drove for another few hours towards Albany. We finally stopped and eagerly piled out. It was not Ken's Kave but its distant cousin Panera Bread.
After lunch, we drove some more and turned onto the road to Ken's house. There was an unassuming circular hole in the grassy field to our left, but it seemed too small to be the cave entrance. Later, our scouts determined that it was indeed the entrance. The pipe was maybe 2 ft in diameter. We made several hilariously bad jokes at the expense of the Kave's unfortunate name before securing the kable ladder to the kar and karefully klimbing down the metal pipe.
We were immediately rained on upon reaching the bottom. Since this was a dry cave, the muddy slosh only came up to our ankles. We estimated we had about 3 hours to explore, so we quickly forged on ahead...to find ourselves at a dead end. Luckily we had a map and a compass on hand. With our super navigation skills we figured out that the red arrow pointed north. So we backtracked and found a passage to the left side of a fork. We picked our way along the narrow passage and saw a metal ladder propped up to the right. Gabe was in front and decided to go up the ladder instead of continuing down the passage. There was some dingy webbing at the top which I think used to be white. It was deemed safe, and we used it to climbed up and across the Great Divide.
There was basically a vertical narrow gap about 10ft to the bottom and just wide enough for a caving helmet. The dome was the first in a series of 10 domes. A long piece of webbing was conveniently there to assist in the descent/ascent. I was reminded of a peanut butter sandwich as the muddy cavers chimnied down between two slabs of rock. Mitch had some trouble with the squeeze, but he stuck with it (no pun intended) and made it through! The gap widened to the bottom-right, but soon we came upon another narrow squeeze. Mitch made a valiant effort to get through. However, he decided that he did not want to suffer through the task 9 more times (not including the return trip). Therefore, Mitch, Itaru, and Gabe turned back to explore the passage beyond the ladder. Jes, Becca, Adam, and myself went on ahead to see the domes.
We reached a rainy alcove with no apparent way forward. Upon further searching, we realized there was a narrow but passable path to the left and back. We climbed through and saw a pool of water to the left. The right led up to a ledge towards the top of the alcove. We traversed up a muddy slope to a small opening at the top. I squirmed forward and was soon staring into the bottomless darkness with half my body in midair. When my pants got stuck behind and started falling off, I realized that going headfirst down the cliff was not going to work. Some weird twisty contortions got me back onto the dome. Sadly, by this point it was already the turn-around time.
The 7 of us reconvened at the sketch ladder base. We exited the cave via the cable ladder, popped out of the pipe like Mario, and were greeted with a dark expanse of stars. It was almost as dark as in the cave but much colder. Itaru turned up the car heater on full blast, and we changed out of our muddy gear. We drove to a random town in search of gourmet food. By search I mean park the cars and racewalk to the nearest OPEN sign. It turned out to be an Indian place. There, we learned that contrary to the menu's claim, the Kachori appetizer can in fact be described in words. We'll leave it as an exercise for the reader. And yes, that's Kachori with a "K."
Report by Ranbel