13 Sep 2003
0815hr - 1840hr
Beginner's trip to Clarksville Cave, NY
Cavers: Karen David Lynne Nathan Jose Meredith Tony
The day began with the group of us meeting at the circular driveway behind the Students Center at 0745hr. We were soon on our way and it took us about 3 hours to arrive at our destination - Clarksville Cave in upstate New York.
This was my very first experience in caving. I had no clue what it was about and thankfully, I was not the only one. Over lunch at June's diner, the veterans present such as Karen and David told us more about caving. We passed around a introductory book about caving and it helped me somewhat.
After a nice lunch, we suited up and put on our helmets and gear. The time was about 1300hr. The cave had 3 main entrances. There was one on each side of the cave and a last one in the center. The cave was divided into a wet half and a dry half. We decided to tackle the dry half first.
I have to admit that I felt like a rabbit when I first crept down the entranceway into the cave. The hole emerged into a very nice opening, with high roofs glistening with silver beads of water droplets. Once all of us were assembled and David and Jose got their fire things (look, I'm a beginner!) working, we proceeded down the dry half of the cave. It became apparent very quickly that caving challenged one to move and bend one's body to adjust to the different heights and ground angles.
The best parts were the forks that always ended up converging. However, the fork always offered a more difficult (read: lower and wetter) path and a safer alternative. The braver ones would go for the former while the rest went for the latter. Despite the common knowledge that this was the dryer half of the cave, it was not long before our boots got wet. The water did admittedly provide some cool cushioning effects!
Soon, we had reached the end of the dry half. It turned out to be a sump around which cavers could rest and take a break. We met another group of cavers there and talked a little. After eating and hydrating ourselves, we headed back to the center.
Once there, we embarked on the path that would take us down the wet half. There were two highlights to this half. First was a very narrow tunnel through which we had to crawl in order to lower ourselves into the length of tunnels that ran below us. It proved to be very challenging and some of us might have possibly discovered an alternative career as a contortionist in the process! The second highlight was near the end of the cave where the water rose to about 5ft6" and the cave roof dropped to about 6" from the water surface. Naturally, we all got soaked in the cold water but it turned out to be a fun and unique experience for us all.
We had conquered the caves by this time and began heading back toward the center via an alternative path. After emerging from underground, some of us gained a better appreciation for the expression "to see the light at the end of the tunnel." We cleaned up and were soon back on our way to Boston.
The journey back went smoothly and we arrived back on campus at about 1845hr.
Trip report by Tony
Last Modified Wed Oct 1 14:23:28 2003 krobinso