Speleofest 2008

The MIT Caving Club met a group from Syracuse in Knox Cave once upon a time. As a result they decided to have a Speleofest. So, a couple months later, we met up with three people from Syracuse University (Keluo, Eliah, and Kevin) at Schoharie Cabin in Schoharie County, New York. After breakfast at a diner, we headed to Knox cave, where Eliah and Kevin had previously staged wetsuits in the Alabaster Room. The first part we visited required using a long PVC pole to pull down a rope from a secret location, which we then ascended to enter a little-visited passageway decorated with speleothems.

Afterwards, we ditched our vert gear and continued into the northeast-running portion of the cave. We bypassed the narrow Gunbarrel section and continued into a breakdown room. To get out of the room we (eventually) all passed through the "Lemon Squeeze" into a long keyhole passageway.

Finally, we reached the Alabaster Room, so named for the clear/white stone which decorates its walls. The rest of the cave is more recently dug out and not on the map, beginning with the Football Room, so named because it is as long as a football field and as tall as a football. After all this crawling we reached a stream, where we changed into wetsuits and crawled into the cold water. We spent about an hour and a half belly-crawling down a low-airspace water-filled passageway and digging it out until we got through to a slightly less low-airspace passageway. We took turns going down and bringing out rocks and dirt until we reached another impassable crawlway.

Although more digging might have broken through further, some of us were starting to get cold, so we exited the cave. In total, we spent nine and a half hours in Knox. [Rachel] I enjoyed my first caving trip.

The next day we (Sid, Rachel, and Eliah) decided to go to another cave in the area named Van Vleets. It was like a giant tube full of chocolate pudding. There was only one room in the whole cave (at the end) large enough to stand up in. The rest of the journey was spent crawling/sliding/floating through soupy brown muck. As a result of this cave, Rachel gives neoprene an "A" and PVC a "C-". At one point, there was a side passageway which we decided not to enter because we weren't sure we could fit in. Much later, another group of Syracuse cavers did squeeze through this passage into a giant junction room which leads to walking passages and thousands of feet of beautiful cave. We should someday return to Van Vleets to investigate this half of the cave (if we can fit).

That night, we (Sid and Rachel) visited Schoharie cave. This is a large, easy cave consisting of about an hour's worth of walking passageway through knee-deep water. This is a good cave to take your mom in. This trip was awesome, and we hope to go on further trips with SUOC again soon.

--Sid and Rachel