Onesquethaw Cave - 10/14/2012

Cavers: Itaru, Mitch, Ranbel, Calley, Mark, Martin, Brooke, Maddie, Peter

We prayed to the caving gods as we drove to Onesquethaw with the windshield wipers on full duty. The cave has been known to flood after heavy rainfall, so the backup plan was to go to Clarksville or Ladder Dig instead. Luckily, the skies cleared up and the entrance showed no indication of flooding. We parked along the road/off the road/beside the road/on the road (the terminology was apparently debatable). We decided not to subject the neighbors to a strip show and trampled weeds to get to the changing stalls.

Every Caving Club trip organically develops a theme. Previous trips have been marked with themes ranging from silly nicknames to sex jokes. This particular trip couldn't help catching the shutterbug since we had two waterproof cameras in tow. We posed for a nice color photograph before entering the cave. Of course, we applied a sepia filter for the "After" picture.

An intrepid beginner (Calley) led the way into the cave and lit up the path with her camera flash. The first section consisted of a narrow water-cut passage with high ceilings. It was cool to see the water flow history carved into the smooth formations. We encountered a few dead ends early on, but we forged onwards and crawled over floors cluttered with rocks and debris. We silently thanked the inventor of kneepads as we duck-walked, bear-crawled, snake-slithered, and log-rolled along the passage. We abruptly reached the Barnyard section of the cave. Like the name suggests, there was soft squishy mud several inches deep with a smell reminiscent of your local farm. It was comforting to know that a horse couldn't possibly have made it this far into the cave.

We passed the other caving group at a convenient fork and eventually reached the Spider Room. This was a pretty room with a few branches and a stream that flowed into a man-sized hole up ahead. It looked like a person could fit through if the water level was lower. A couple of people also tried climbing the slippery slope above the stream. I accidentally served as a crash pad when one of the climbers took a tumble. We took several photos in this room, awkwardly staring at the walls or deeply into each others' eyes to avoid blinding the camera.

The passage on the right led to a sump which delighted the hydrophilic members of the group. We waded in until the water got about 4 ft deep. The ceiling lowered, and we didn't feel like ducking under to see if it opened up on the other side. It would be a good spot for cave diving. On the way back, we explored a few of the side passages. Maddie, Martin, and Mitch wriggled down a wormhole-looking tunnel on the left, reported a "maybe dead end," then wriggled back out with their feet waving about like antennas. There was an intriguing straight passage on the other side of the room that was unfortunately too squat to squeeze through. Further onwards, I made a detour down an interesting-looking tunnel on the upper left, belly-crawling for ~80ft until it opened into a small turn-around space. When we were about 10 minutes away from fresh air, we decided to set up a handline and explore the upper passageway that ran parallel to the entryway. Mark and Martin excitedly rushed on ahead and were visibly disappointed when we called them back in the interest of time. Next time, guys!

We failed at locating a highly-reviewed Italian restaurant and settled for highly-reviewed Persian cuisine. It was the classiest post-cave meal I've ever had. To top it all off, our cave makeup was so irresistable that the waitress took a photo of us for their Facebook page.

Trip report by Ranbel