Beginner's trip to Clarksville Cave, NY

February 7th, 2004

Cavers: Cindy, Cristina, Jenn, David, Mariela, Dustin, Karen, Aron clean cavers

The sun was well on its way up by the time we loaded the cars are started towards Clarksville. While some of us entertained ideas of racing the coming illumination, the sun quickly overtook us on I-90 and offered the most beautiful, clear day - perfect for crawling about underground. After a mostly successful navigation to Clarksville, we had the required meal at the Diner which was far less sketchtaskic than the experienced cavers led us beginners to believe. Gear was donned, cars were locked, and suggestions for hiding the keys in a nearby snowdrift for safekeeping were quickly dismissed, and instead we hit the well worn trail to the cave. what's goin' on?

Once inside, the first order of business was changing batteries, removing jewelry, and dealing with other bits of first time caving fun. I, for instance, learned that I had put on far too many layers of clothing and was rather anxious to find the river. Preliminary difficulties aside, we breezed through the first part of the cave until we encountered a smaller side passage and left the cool river with the promise of another route to the surface.

After some troubles getting through the initial jagged section (round helmets, square passages), we wound our way through a chain of mini-rooms connected with increasingly tighter passages. Directions came from the back --- we seemed to be traveling in inverse order of experience --- and were called up the line to the generally disbelieving beginners in front. At one point Aron ended up crawling up the wrong passage and reported the need to give birth to himself backwards via peristalsis. The correct passage was thankfully larger and quickly lead to the glow of daylight.

We emerged from the ground and after some initial snow play determined that we had no idea where we were. After several exploratory treks in various directions, Karen choose one and marched the group through the woods and with an uncanny sense of direction hit the entrance almost head on.

Back underground --- the day continued to be as sunny as ever --- we retraced our steps and then continued along the river to the lake room. Which was cool. A brief experiment concluded that when lights are extinguished, caves are dark. MIT scientists strike again. We next checked out a back room behind the lake, a new passage that appeared to lead nowhere, and then returned along the more watery route. Approaching the entrance, we shunned the daylight and instead followed Karen into a little nook which evolved into an impressive series of twisting passages and atrium like rooms. We were searching for the other half of the system, rumored to be very wet with many cool features, but found only an endless series of passages and dead ends. Finding many interesting things but nothing very wet, we crawled back to the entrance and to the cold outside.

The adventure continued as we peeled off wet layers only to discover that one set of car keys was still in the cave --- awaiting David for next week's trip. Much freezing and negotiating with AAA later, we were again on the road, this time going home.

Aron : ) dirty cavers

Last Modified: Wed May 5 21:15:18 2004 by krobinso