Mystery Cave – 08/06/16
Trip Leaders Erin and Mihai
At Approximately 11:00 am cavers Beth (Nebraska), Josiah (Nebraska), Micah (Nebraska), Ryo (Nebraska/Japan), Aron (Univesity of Illinois), Mihai (LEG), Erin (LEG), and Phillip (LEG) entered Mystery Cave via the gated entrance. Since the Nebraska crew was made up of new cavers, in the Cathedral room, we had a brief talk about safety rules in caving to both preserve the cave and ourselves. These cavers were excited and eager to get our trip underway. Aron was with us for a different reason all together. He is gathering specimen from different caves on both sides of the Mississippi River to compare their genetics and so on and so on. This was a perfect trip for invertebrate sampling and new cavers as both will be moving through the cave rather slowly.
The trip began with pictures at the Sentinel. All were greatly impressed with the coloration of this formation. As the crew slowly developed cave legs we made our way towards the Liberty Bell. Again everyone was greatly impressed with this formation and Aron was able to take many samples of the cave invertebrates he was looking for (the largest concentration of these invertebrates he had ever seen in one spot). We continued down Liberty Bell Passage until we reached the breakdown pile where our only option was to turn around. From here we made our way to Red Fork Passage.
In Red Fork Passage there were discoveries of teeth and other bones which fascinated Josiah. For the most part this section of the cave was just easy going caving. Erin and Mihai took our new cavers to see the Iron “Blood” Formation while Phillip took Aron down the Fossil Passage. Aron’s day was made when fresh raccoon poop was found in this passage just as they were about to turn around. Aron found this habitat to have everything he was looking for. This score alone made his trip a complete success.
Everyone met for lunch around 2:30 at the convergence of Red Fork and Liberty Bell Passages. Together we shared good food and laughs. Once our bellies were full we continued our journey, making our way to the Stage Curtain Room. Everyone was extremely impressed by this formation. While the group admired this section, Aron picked up his last inner cave debris sample slightly further down the passage towards the Lily Pad Room. Upon completion the group came together for a photo near the Curtain (which came out very blurry). This concluded the plans for the day and we began our exit through the Mystery Cave Main Entrance. Everyone exited safely while Aron collected his last sample of the trip, sampling from just inside the entrance.
This trip concluded with many smiling faces captured in our group photo just outside the main entrance. This was truly an enjoyable and successful day for all!
Written by Phillip