August 26, 2015

Fun Stuff 2015

Jan 1  Mulberry.  Level 2 ft.  Air temps in the 50's. In the Liquid Logic Stomper 80.  With various members of the BCC.  Photos here.

Jan 3 Talladega Creek.  Level 1.5 ft when we put-in, 1 ft. when we took out.  In the Stomper 80. With Joan, David and Amanda, and another David.  I would call this run class II at this level, with the exception of Rob Roy which is an easy III.  Photos here.

Mrs. Steed and I at the scouting rock for Rob Roy rapid on Talladega Creek.
Jan 11 Town Creek.  In the LL Stomper 80.  Air temps 40's, water temp COLD.  Level 386 according to the flowpage tonight.  With members of the BCC.  Photos here.
Jan 18 Mulberry.  In the LL Stomper 80.  Level very low - maybe 6"?  Air temps high 50's-low 60's. With Mark G and David R.


Jan 31 Blowing Saltpeter Cave.  With the B'ham Grotto.   26 of us went to one of the first caves I ever did, great trip.  First time using the Fenix HL55 *with* the Zebra floody.  On the way back, looked in a very decorated IKF found by Donna C. and Jennifer P.  Pics HERE.
Feb 1 War Eagle.  With Ray M, Tim H, Juan F.   Gorgeous gorgeous pit.   Pics HERE.

Feb 8 Ridgewalk/Wyvern Well.  With Dave H. and Andy Z.  Went ridgewalking in the big coon with Dave H and Andy Z yesterday to visit a couple of old leads. We didn't find either lead we were there to explore, but Dave found a new pit lead that needs some vertical exploration, and we found/entered the top area of Wyvern Well, a cave Dave found and added to the survey many years ago. It is a short climbdown to a room that has a window to a drop that I think is around 50 feet, with a skylight. There's another room below that.  Photos HERE.

Feb 14 visit with Miss Iris Ranelli.  Newest member of my family.

Feb 20  Ticks Reunion at the Nick.  First time together since 1997.

Feb 27-March 1  Grotto Getaway.  At the Paint Rock Valley Lodge.  Photos here.

Dale, me, Bruce.  Bridge Day buddies

March 7-8 Mulberry Fork Races.   March 8- paddled the Mulberry in the cavers' new raft, then a second time in the Hyside Paddlecat with Chris G.  Photos here.

March 14-16 ALF 2015.  Ain't Louie Fest 2015.  With the Lost Tribe.
March 14- Whites Creek, level was .9 when we put on, and 1 ft. when we took-out. In the LL Stomper 80.  Air temps mid-upper 50's and misty/rain.
March 15 - O.U.T. Race on Tellico river, level 2.6, in the Blackfly Option 92.  Air temps upper 60's/low 70's, sunny gorgeous day.
March 16 - Middle Tellico, level 2.3, in the LL Stomper 80.  Air temps low 70's, another gorgeous day.  Photos here.  Videos of race here.
March 21 Trail tagging at Ruffner Mtn.  With the Birmingham Grotto.  Photos here.

March 22 Mulberry.  In the LL Stomper 80.  Level about .9 on the bridge, 5.33 online,  1.09 using the correlation 0.75 * 5.33 -2.9.  With Lynn, Josh, and other members of the BCC.

March 24-30 Ski trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.   Had 8-12" fresh snow fall our first night, so Wed-Thurs was some powder.  Friday went to Grand Targhee and was ice (Sacajawea!).  Saturday was back to Jackson for some slushy snow.  Warm temps.  Photos here.

April 11 Mulberry.  In the Wave Sport Project X56.  With Rundell C.   Level 1.6 on the bridge, we were surprised to find Training Wheels washed out into a flat (nice) front surfing wave.  Didn't bring the camera.  Air temps in the 70's.

April 12 Talladega Creek, Kymulga Mill Putin.   With members of the Birmingham Grotto.  Brought my camera but the battery was dead.  Level on the gauge at was in the 250 range.  The groundskeeper at the mill charges $3 per boat to park your car there (two of us in one canoe for $3, for instance).  He closes the gate at 5pm.
He, and Damon who lives nearby, predicted a 6 hour float due to the deadfall/strainers, but even with a couple of portages we did the trip in a leisurely 3.5 hours.

April 18 Tumbling Rock Cave.  With the Bham Grotto, Scout trip to the Christmas tree.  Photos here.
April 19 High Water Locust Fork.  With the Bham Grotto rafters and Kyle S.  Level 7.5 and rising on the gauge.  Great day!  Photos here.
April 26  Upper Nanty in the Hyside Paddlecat.  With Jenni H. and Ryland G.  Level 650 on Cascades, 1400 on Lower Nanty, and put-in sidewalk covered.  Temps in the mid to upper 60's. Water was a bit colder than usual Upper Nanty release; I wore a drytop and neoprene shorts. Video here.
May 2 Float The Lazy River.   BCC class on the Cahaba, Grants Mill to Overton, level 180.   Air temp 70ish, water temp chilly.  Sunshine, great day.  Photos here.
May 3 Mulberry.   Level under a foot.  (4.99 ft USGS). Taught a kayak private instruction to Julie L. With Joan S.  In the LL Remix 69.  Air temp up 70's-low 80's, water temp chilly.  Wonderful, wonderful day!  Photos here.
May 9-10 SERA.  With the B'ham Grotto including Kathy K.   Visited Buffalo Cove cave and Pickett rock shelter.  Photos here.
May 23 Hiwassee.  With Ry and Jenni.  In the Project X 56.  Beautiful day.
May 24.  Upper Ocoee.  With Wendy A.  and a slew of other shredders, canoeists, and kayakers.  In the Hyside Paddlecat.  Swam at Mikeys, dumped at Callahans, swam under the bridge.  ugh!  All's well that ends well.   First carnage via paddlecat since I bought it.
May 31 Float The Lazy River 2.  On the Lily section of the Cahaba (West Blocton).   In the LL Remix 69.   Gorgeous day.
...lack of photos due to losing my camera in my house after May 2nd trip.   Found it June 22nd.
June 13 Hiwassee.  With Christine B., Allie and Kirk.  In the Project X 56.
June 20 Bike Ride.  With Andy and Lynn.   On an 05 Specialized Allez Elite.
June 27-July 3 Week Of Rivers 2015.  Annual event hosted by the Carolina Canoe Club.
June 28- Nantahala, Ferebee thru falls, in the LL Stomper 80.  With Joan S., Linda D., Lorraine B., and joined by Wendy A. in her new Bakraft.
June 29- Tuck Town (Devil's Dip).  WS Project X 56.  With Joan S., Linda W., Lorraine B. Then a walk thru Bryson City, lunch at the Filling Station, great BLT.
June 30- Pigeon.  In the LL Stomper 80.  With Joan S., Greg M., Lorraine B.
July 1- Tuckaseegee Gorge.  In the WS Project X 56.  With Joan S., Linda D., Lorraine B., Charlotte in her new (used) Varun, others.   2 generators.
July 2- Canoe Clinic on the Nantahala, Ledges to Donnie Dutton.   In the Blackfly Option.  Led by Sarah R. with her dad Rich, Sue R. also in clinic.
July 3- Little Tennessee, in the Blackfly Option.  With many folks listed above also including Oci-one Kanubi.  Level 700, class I.
Photos for the Week of Rivers 2015 here.
July 4 BBQ and Party.   BBQ at my brother Frank's and SIL Rene's house, baby Iris and fam from New York, and niece Sophia visiting from New Zealand.
Then classic Southside B'ham party at kick-ass house, with pool, 3 bands, fireworks, everything...

July 11-19 NSS Convention.   Great time.  Camped with the Howells and Sewanee Grotto.
Sunday: Arrived at Convention, set up camp.
Monday: Trip to Carroll Cave, 3 hr trip, MUDDY, GORGEOUS.   Howdy Party at camp.
Tuesday: National sessions.
Wednesday: International Sessions.  Wed. night party.
Thursday: Float trip on Gasconade River.   Photo Salon Thurs. night.
Friday: Entrance visits to Tunnel Cave and Railroad Cave, then a stop by Roubidoux Springs with Danny C.  Banquet and awards that night.  Valerie H. received her NSS Fellowship.
Photos here.
Incredibly decorated Carroll Cave

Enormous entrance to Tunnel Cave
July 25-26 Old Timers Trip with the BCC.  In the Liquid Logic Remix 69.   Beautiful gorgeous days on the Hiwassee.  Didn't bring my camera so no pics.

Aug 1-2 BCC Intermediate Canoe Clinic.  In the Blackfly Option.  With members of the Birmingham Canoe Club, and the first appearance of Creepy Jack.  Photos here.

Aug 8-9 Hiwassee.  In the Blackfly Option. With the Lost Tribe, and Boy Scout masters and parents.
Photos here.

Aug 16 Bike Ride at Coldwater Mtn. and then Rappelling with the Gadsden Grotto.  At Cherokee Rock Village.  Photos here.

Aug 22-23 BCC Women's Trip/TVCC Meet-up.  On the Hiwassee. Saturday in the Blackfly Option; Sunday in the WS ProjectX56.  Photos here.

August 15, 2015

Entrance to Carroll Cave


Entering Carroll Cave from Dangerjudy on Vimeo.

Trip Report:

NSS Convention and visit to Carroll Cave

This year's convention was in Waynesville, Mo.   I went in a convoy headed by Dave and Valerie Howell in their rental car.  Even though it was just two cars, I felt convoy was an appropriate term.
Normally I do not go caving during convention.  There are so many things to do in other parts of the country that we cannot do here in TAG, whereas we have some of the best caves in the world here in our backyard.  So, even though I brought all of my caving gear, I had no real intention of using it.

After we arrived at the Waynesville High School to sign into registration, I picked up a newsletter for the day (a rag called, if I recall correctly, the Daily Towel) and stuffed it into my purse.  We went back to the campground and set up our tents.  Finally sitting down in my camp chair with a cold beverage, I read the newsletter, to find myself looking at the cave trips for the next day.

3 short trips a day were being led to Carroll Cave, in addition to longer trips to the same cave.  The 3 hour trip seemed like a nice idea.  "Easy" was the succint description, and then there was a paragraph or two about the challenges of the entrance, and the gear required to negotiate said entrance.

Carroll Cave's historic entrance has been closed to cavers for years.  The cave is the second longest in Missouri, at 20 miles + mapped, and cavers being stubborn, clever types, came up with a way to maintain access to the cave. In short, they blasted an entrance.  This newer entrance is a 120' deep tunnel, through solid rock, encased at the top by a metal culvert, inside the bottom of what I am guessing was a tank for holding water in a water tower, over which there is a metal grain silo repurposed to protect the tunnel entrance.

The tunnel itself is solid rock, with water dripping down the center and sides.  There is a metal ladder that runs the entire length of the tunnel, to the cave floor beneath.  There is also a steel cable with a clamp system for people who do not have descending gear.  The passage requires one to wear a harness, and either descend a caving rope, or climb down the rungs of the ladder while safetied to the steel cable.
Getting out requires climbing the ladder; there isn't room for ascending gear.  You'd just be banging into the rungs of the ladder the entire time.  Safety going up can either be the clamp/steel cable get-up, or in my case, a croll on the rope with my frogging harness.

It's quite an engineering feat, how determined cavers built this tunnel into Carroll Cave.

So, back in my camp chair, in the heat of the afternoon, I read the warnings about the tunnel, the required gear, and the necessity to climb the ladder back out.  "That doesn't sound too hard" I thought, and the trip description of "Easy" seemed straightforward enough, so I decided to go on the morning trip. 

While finding out who to tell or where to sign up to get on this trip, I met many other people, including Missouri cavers who all told me to be sure to bring my camera because the cave was so decorated.  This is right up my proverbial caving alley; I love pretties.  
I drove to the entrance location, which was in a gated field with no shade.   The morning was already hot; I believe the day ended up in the mid to upper 90's F.  The only shade was a couple of pop-up canopies near the silo.  There were about 10 people in our group.  I was sweating pretty bad by the time I got all of my gear on.   I had on Wunderwear shorts over some Chilliheads polypro pants, a t-shirt, my knee pads, elbow pads, frogging harness, croll, ascension, swago pack,and my 18" rack; I had forgotten to pack my micro-rack.   I had my new go-pro camera on for its second trip underground.  At the last moment I decided to tether the camera to my helmet, because I didn't trust the glue on the helmet mount.   I was rushing to get out of the sun, and forgot to bring the spare battery. It was hot as hell and here were some of the other people on the trip wearing shortie wetsuits.  hmmmm.  
We signed waivers and went into the silo one by one.  There was a climb-down ladder about 8-10' tall, to the floor of the steel tank.  The entrance to the tunnel was in the floor of the tank; there was a metal culvert surrounding the top of the tunnel.  
I watched someone get on rope and go down, and I had some trepidation about the whole thing.   It was just... intimidating.  
I was next on rope, and struggled to get five bars on the rope while being stuffed in the culvert; hard to describe but that 18" rack was just too big.  The other cavers had hung their packs off of a tether, but I didn't have something to tether with handy.  The guys at the top said I would probably fit ok with the swago pack on my back.   Finally down I went.
The swago pack did get jammed in the tunnel, and kept pushing my helmet up over my eyes.  There was water dripping down the tunnel, which felt wonderful after all the heat upstairs.
The rappel got easier past a bottleneck and I popped out into a wonderfully air-conditioned cave room.  
The others came down and we took off our vertical gear and proceeded down walking passage.   And this is where I started to be surprised.
I didn't research Missouri caves at all.  Didn't even occur to me.  Well, now you shall know that Missouri caves are Muddy.  Capitol M Muddy.
We had walked to a place where there was an exposed shelf that required crawling, only the crawling was in peanut-butter mud.   This was the way to some serious pretties.   I got on my hands and knees, and at times on my belly, and thanked the mud for being so sticky that there was no way I could slide off the shelf into the water/rock some 20 feet below.  And I got filthy with mud.   Suddenly this was an actual caving trip, not just a walk-around-and-photograph-pretties trip.    
After the mud crawl we crossed a stream and went into rooms with ceilings crowded with stals, a white gypsum waterfall formation, and a group of very aggrivated bats.  The bats were a surprise to the trip leaders, who said they hadn't been there the day before.  The bats flew around us as we tried to quickly take photos/video.
We went back through the stream crossing, up into the mud crawl again, and back past the entrance tunnel down mostly walking passage that contained room after room of decorations.  There was however a lot of mud and stream walking.  There was one lagoon of mud that I sank up to my knees in trying to get through.   This was hilarious to watch as people strugged to get through it without falling face first into the mud.  Coming back, I sank up to almost one hip in this mud, and wondered if I could get my leg out with my shoe attached (I did).   Visions of quicksand danced in my head.  
The pretties became over-whelming.   I can honestly say this is one of the best, most decorated caves I have ever visited, and my mind stopped processing all of the scenery.  Some breakdown climbs, some more mud, streambed walking, more mud, and every kind of cave formation.   Finally we came to a stream passage that we were assured would go chest-deep on some of us.  And I said, "I am tired and I want to stay here while y'all go on".  Two other cavers chose to stay with me, the others waded off into infinity.  Now I knew why some had worn shortie wetsuits.  I was cold.
Shake your heads at me all you want, but as the others sloshed away, I turned to the two cavers who stayed with me, and said, "I feel like we've had a joke played on us".   The trip description without any mention of getting generously slathered in mud seemed like a prank to me down there.  I also knew, the only way back was through that very same mud.  But I was grinning.   It was so worth it.
The others came back after about 40 minutes, and we headed back to the tunnel.   It was so fast getting back, that I realized we had taken a long time to go a short distance, due to everyone's photography efforts.    I put on my gear and climbed up the ladder.  I climbed 10 rungs and then rested, several times, to pace myself.   No problem.   I believe our trip was about 4 hours.   Headed back to camp and did some serious deconning and demudding of my clothes and gear with a pressure washer at the decon station.
I would love to go back to Carroll Cave and see some more of this cave.   It is fantastic.  In fact that whole part of Missouri is wonderful, with so many caves, float trips, springs, and other sights to see.   I will be back.

July 21, 2015


The first pit I ever did, and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been:

July 9, 2015

How to check 18650 caving light batteries with a Multi-meter

I'm making this post so the next time I forget, I have the directions handy.

Set the multimeter to 20 DCV

4.2 volts 100%
4.1 about 90%
4.0 about 80%
3.9 about 60%
3.8 about 40%
3.7 about 20%
3.6 empty for practical purposes
3.5 over-discharged

June 23, 2015

This song makes no sense to me...

...However Donna posted the best explanation of it I have ever heard:
 "I think it's about a man nuts about a psycho who does mean things and calls it love.  Odd song for him to shoot a video of for his own wedding!"
...btw they divorced.