The purpose of the trip was to introduce our new member Matt Bliss to the wonders of Mystery, re-visit some of the upper passages, and, of course, get out and get deep underground! Genie and Mihai arrived at Park-et at about 9:40 AM and met with Richard and Matt. After breakfast they left for the cave, which they entered at about 11:00 AM. At that time it was not raining outside. There was more water entering the cave through the historic entrance than usual and the stream was muddy.
Once inside via the gated entrance, the cavers went down to the main stream and decided it was too hazardous to continue downstream toward the Frozen Niagara passage. The water was just too high. The upper sections were deemed safe so it was decided to visit the Red Fork, Fossil, and Liberty Bell passages after, of course, paying a visit to the Monkey Paw speleothem and the nearby rimstone pools. Grateful thanks were said to all previous cavers who left the nice footholds in the clay slopes. The volume of water flowing through the upper passages was not much higher than usual despite the previous days’ rain. The Red Fork and Liberty Bell passages were followed until they became tight and the Fossil passage to the blocking collapse deposits. The youngest sparkly white speleothems were much admired and a pigmented orange salamander was encountered. And many jokes were made inside!
It was raining lightly when the team exited the cave at 4:00 PM and a puddle had formed at the bottom of the entrance pit. It took the combined efforts of Richard and Mihai to close the gate lock; a new one is needed. The cavers left the cave area and had dinner at Park-et where they relished the womderful experience of being underground. As usual, the Carbondale cavers are grateful for the guidance and expertise of Richard. A long trip downstream was planned.
Photo credits: Matt Bliss