Category Archives: Trip reports

Boy Scout Cave Tour

On May 13, 2017, Phillip, Mihai, and Erin lead a troop of 30+ boy scouts and troop leaders from the Belleville area through Mystery Cave. For many of these scouts, this was their first adventure underground. The troop was divided into 3 groups and taken on approximately 1.5 hour tours each.  The first wave of students entered the cave around 10:30am. Most of the boys enjoyed the climb down at the gated entrance. The boys were very excited and impressed by the formations, break down pile, and Fossil Passage. In addition to frogs and salamanders, the boys found an unexpected juvenile rattle snake. The troop fearlessly trekked through the cave and hope to tour again. Everyone was able to climb back out of the cave with little assistance. The trip was a success. Phillip later made patches for each of the scouts to add to their patch collection.

Mystery Cave February 4, 2017

Mihai arrived at Park Et at 9:10 AM and had breakfast with Richard, who then drove both to Berome Moore. Jim was getting ready to lead a trip inside and told them that LEG was welcome to organize a trip into Berome after contacting him and MCKC. Jim also encouraged LEG to start a scientific study of the cave following the proposal Mihai wrote three years ago. Richard then drove back to Park Et to meet with Ciara and Ryan, hopefully two new LEG members. All arrived at Mystery at around 11:00 AM and entered it through the gated entrance after making sure that Ryan’s helmet and headlamp were OK. It took the effort and imagination of all four cavers to figure out how to attach the suspension to a hard hat! Once in the Cathedral Room it was decided to first visit some upper passages close to the entrance and then go down and follow the main stream for a while. The team admired the passage morphologies and young stalagmites along the Red Fork and Richard and Mihai offered explanations on how the features were formed. The Fossil Passage was visited next and horse teeth were found together with one healthy looking bat! On the way back to the Cathedral Room thanks were said to all previous cavers who had dug steps into clay slopes. Ciara and Ryan were impressed by the clear pool at the bottom of the room. A thermocline was detected while climbing down to the main stream: It was really cold below! The stream was followed up to confluence with the newcomers wet “baptism” passage. Ciara and Ryan followed it to the room with the pouring flowstone while Richard and Mihai climbed to the same room. The multitude of potholes throughout the visited portions was amazing and the former cave floors were clearly marked on the walls by different levels of clay-embedded rock fragments. The cave was exited at about 4:50 PM through the same entrance without any problem. The rock climbing experience of Ciara and Ryan was evident all the time. Mihai and Richard went to Park Et for dinner and relished the day’s trip. The cavers are grateful for Richard’s expert guidance and patience.

~Mihai

Mystery Cave Project

The purpose of the trip was to measure the concentrations of CO2, CH4, and Rn in cave air and introduce Jackie to caving. The weather on Saturday was gorgeous! I was able to give a ride to Jackie and we arrived at Park Et at 11:00 AM where we met with Kevin from Indiana University Bloomington. We then drove immediately to Mystery. There was no problem opening the gate but it would have been very difficult lowering the gas monitoring equipment through the narrow pit so I decided to enter the cave through the historic entrance. We dragged the frame with the gas monitors over the rubble at the entrance. Kevin put the 40 pound backpack frame with the monitors on his back and we went downstream while measuring the concentrations of CO2, CH4, and Rn in cave air along the way. The sampling points were located at old survey stations. We then took measurements along the passage with the water-gushing flowstone (where we initiate the beginners in wet crawling) and stopped after about 400 ft at a crawl through boulders. We came back to the main stream and went back toward the entrance. Just before reaching the area with the collapsed rocks that reach all the way to the pit entrance we climbed into the passage that starts with beautiful flowstone formations and measured the gas concentrations for about 200 ft. We went back and climbed the boulder slope to the room below the pit entrance. We then followed the northern passage, which was the same we visited in August, for about 1000 ft. Along the way we admired the beautiful rimstone pools and snow white young stalagmites and gave silent thanks to our fellow cavers who left good footholds in the clay slopes. On our way out we made a short detour to the side active passage closest to the entrance and with deep potholes. We were out of the cave at 5:30 pm. It was a very productive trip and both Jackie and Kevin were amazed by the cave. It was a first for Jackie and she did very well.

~Mihai

Mystery Cave trip

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Written by Phillip

Fall 2015 Campout

LEG will be hosting a Fall 76 campout for November 13-15, 2015. All members are welcome! We will be enjoying a weekend of campfires and caving! For more information, please email erin.thomas@littleegyptgrotto.org

Thank you for 50 years of service!

Scan-1

Mystery Cave, 7/11/2015

 

We arived at Park Et at 9:00 AM and had breakfast. Richard filled in the logbook. We entered the cave at around 11:00 AM by the gated entrance and spent some time in the rubble room trying to see why the flash on my digital camera was not working. It was because we kept a finger on it every time we took a picture so it was not opening at all!

We went through the main stream until we reached the active passage on the right (the one with water flowing over the stalactite on the high ceiling). We kept on going upstream on that passage until there was no more water. Then we came back to the main stream and took the passage toward five forks. We followed an upper passage until it got blocked with collapsed pieces of ceiling and clay. At some time somebody tried to dig into the pile to go further.

I do not remember how we got to the passage with the clay banks. Richard and I thought that the white clay was actually loess, which would be silt not clay, brought from the surface and deposited into the cave.

We saw two salamanders and the second one (photo Salamander2) was quite deep inside. We also saw lots of phreatic features formed when the incipient passage was completely filled with water. Most active passages in Mystery are beautiful textbook examples of a two stage passage formation that starts with dissolution by water under presure filling the conduit and continues downward with a free level stream.

We exited the cave at around 5 PM through the same entrance. By the way Don’s skipole and Jeff’s cave logbook were still there. We had dinner at Park Et and then left.

Story by Mihai Lefticariu

Ceiling mudcracks Clay banks Mihai Passage Richard Rubble room Salamander Salamander2 Spleothems

A little piece of Paradise

crevice1On Saturday, February 2, 2013 members of the Little Egypt Grotto were lead by Phillip Ellison and Erin Thomas to the Paradise Room of Crevice Cave.  Members along for the adventure include Ashlyn Ellison, Eric Ferre, Emily Ferre, Carl Ferre, Mihai Lefticariu, John Gulley, Amber Dry, Audrey Shire, Chris Thomas, and Kyle Thomas.  Our day started out with the usual Park-et breakfast and then it was off to the cave.  Once everyone was prepare for the day’s trek we headed to the entrance.  Upon arrival, it was discover that the entrance was completely sealed off with ice.  Determined to cave, Phillip grabbed a rock and began to hammer away at the ice.  Before long we were filing into the cave, one by one.  Our trip in was enjoyable; everyone seemed to like the variety of cave passage which included crawling, walking, and climbing.  Once we arrived at the Paradise Room we were anxious to share the prized formations that we had come so far to see before settling down for lunch.  Our crew agreed that the trip was well worth the venture.  We attempted a group photo in front of the largest formation using candle light and limited headlights.  Tea candles proved to be too small, but we now have an excuse to go back!  Everyone exited the cave tired and muddy.  To top off the day, we enjoyed dinner together at the local Mexican restaurant.  (Photos by John Gulley)crevice2

 

Mystery Cave trip- January 12, 2013

Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday, January 12, 2013, Phillip Ellison and Erin Thomas lead new LEGers Audrey Shire and Amber Dry through Mystery Cave.  This was Audrey and Ambers’s first wild cave tour.  Due to poor weather predicted for the afternoon, our trip was limited to a few hours in the morning and only the upstream passages.  We spent the morning exploring the cave at a leisurely pace, taking the time to scrutinize formations and look for fossils in the steam bed.  Our trip was a success and enjoyed by our new members. (Photo by Audrey Shire)

To Eternity and Back

Dec 1, 2012 – Trip Report

Erin Thomas and Phillip Ellison were joined by Chris Doerhoff, Joe Nicolussi, Joe “little man” Nicolussi, Josh Seaman, and Vicki Peters at the Park-et Restaurant in Perryville at 8:00 am. Shortly after our meal we began our joy ride into Crevice Cave, entering the Pipistrell entrance at 9:45. As we proceeded through the cave, we pointed out the bat fossil and the side passages to those in the group new to this cave. The group was surprised at how quickly the size of the cave had opened up.

After an hour and forty-five minutes we arrived at the reputable Paradise Room. Our group was amazed by the brilliant colors throughout the formations. It is typical to rest in the paradise room so Joe busted out his portable kitchen and whipped up some hot water to hydra

te lunches, brewed some coffee, and we enjoyed our packed in meals. With our bellies full, we progressed across the break down pile for some photos beside the grand pillar that makes this area so special. Chris was our photographer and he managed to get a good group photo before we fogged up the cave to much.

With our photo shoot complete we were back on our feet and moving down the large Eternity Passage towards the mighty Eternity Room. Throughout most of the passage, water levels were very low, but the pools were as deep as ever. As we made our way through these deeper pools of water Phillip managed to show everyone the deepest paths while Erin showed the better route. With water depths ranging from knee to chest deep the cold water was breath taking and conjured many laughable reactions as we entered. As cold as they were, the pools of water were much more enjoyable than the knee deep mud pockets we trekked through. The mud sinks will suck the energy right out of you. We finally arrived at the well named Eternity Room and most of us rested on the highest area of the room and gazed at its substantial size. While we rested and looked in admiration, Chris took Josh for a little tour of the lower area.

Once rested, our journey back to the surface began. Taking minimal breaks we moved swiftly through the cave and exited at 5:30 pm. All in all, the group was great and so was the trip.

 
-Phillip Ellison