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Fisher Ridge Surveying

We were to stay at a trailer Friday night. We drove by a trailer that looked too nice to be it and went down the road a bit to an old barn where a car was parked. It was dark outside and late. The car was from Georgia and showed no bat sticker. Jamie wanted to get out of the car and look in the other car for a sign of cave gear. I opted to stay in the car with the car running but Jamie ganked the car keys out of the ignition. I got out of the car to get my dive light out of the trunk with Jamie. We walk over to the car and spot cave gear, luckily! Next we hear from the barn, "You Guys Better Get The #$@! Outta Here!" There was a silence, I was waiting for Jamie to say something but he never did, so I yelled, "Were Caver's" He told us where it was and when we got back in the car started laughing at what just happened. When we got to the trailer everyone was asleep with the lights off. The next morning we discussed which survey teams would go where. There was the horizontal bolt traverse, a 80 + pit, and loop closing. Jamie and I got stuck on the loop closing trip, which actually ended up being a nice trip. We asked Mike how many Wayne's trips we would be doing on our cave trip. He told us it was like doing 5 Wayne's trips. We all were ready to walk down to the cave around 1 O'clock. The quick exit entrance consisted of an 80 foot drop into a vertical pipe. There were two other short drops from there. Jamie after dropping the first drop took off all his gear cause he thought he was done, only to find out there were two other drops still. He caused a traffic jam, for a short while...:) There was some hands and knees crawling and stoop walking for about 10 minutes and then it opened up into 20 by 20 walking passage. We then walked for an hour until we hit the old base camp. This passage was amazing, 50 feet wide, 50 feet tall borehole, with no breakdown on the floor, just nice packed down sand. There was a small puddle of water that water dripped into down some formations that people drink out of to conserve water. Jamie and I talked about the unsafeness of doing this while others drank from it. Neither of us drank it, although I wanted Jamie too!. Then it was walking again for another 2 hours to minicamp where everyone actually camps now. The borehole passage reminded me of a loaf of bread in its shape and half of the time was a flat packed down sandy floor with the other half of the time consisting of walking over breakdown. Upon arrival at minicamp others were unpacking there sleeping bags and pads and setting up camp. The nice walking passage was about to take a turn for the worse from here on. We then crawled for 2 hours. It started out in a passage that you could barely stoop walk with potholes you shredded your knees on and a sloped floor that left you about 2 to 3 inches of flat floor, very tough to maneuver this passage. We then entered the belly crawl. It was interesting in that it was all very dry fluffy sand that seemed to be a foot deep or so. We belly crawled through this for a very long time. We then went through a "shortcut from hell" to get to our survey. We started our survey in a canyon encrusted in gypsum and gypsum flowers. It ended in about 100 feet. Next, consisted of a series of figure eight passages that kept connecting into each other. We then found two distinct passages that were different from each other. We started surveying. This passage was full of gypsum flowers, cotton, needles, some six inches long! There were just so many flowers all over the place it was unbelievable. One passage had mirabolite needles which looked like pieces of glass about 2 inches long. We reached one area where the floor turned into white pluffy sand from all the gypsum, a winter wonderland! Another very interesting thing is how gypsum absorbs sound. One shot was say 70 feet long in a gypsum encrusted passage and we literally could not hear Jeff yelling the instrument readings, only 70 feet away in a 10 foot wide 4 foot tall straight passage! It sounded very faint and somewhat high pitched, very neat. We decided to lay down in the gypsum and take a 30 minute sleep. Neither Jamie nor I can actually remember if we went to sleep then or not, it was probably around midnight then. All of this was virgin, we were leaving the first set of footprints, it was neat to see pristine passage ahead and to sink down into the sand for the first time ever. We then decided to stop surveying when our passage tied into a nice walking passage that we thought was already known because of the footprints. What was crazy was the those footprints actually ended up being fresh from another survey group that did the bolt traverse! It would have been nice to survey that passage but we thought it was known, also by then we had been up for awhile and was tired and dreaded the long way out and really didn't care about surveying anymore. Going through those crawls back to minicamp was hell. Jamie and I left Jeff in the sandy belly crawl because he was going too slow. I guess he fell asleep in there and didn't know how long he had been asleep, luckily it was only about 10 minutes until he got to the rest room before entering that knee shredder crap. Jeff forgot the way out and took two wrong turns, which were too low to be correct. We got back to mini camp to find one person resting in his sleeping bag. We then had to wait there until Mike came back to lead us out. He never showed, we had been waiting at minicamp for 3 hours now. We had been in the cave for 24 hours now, been up for about 28 hours, did all that surveying and crawling and our bodies were worn out and not producing heat anymore. The trip out was unremarkable. We were in the cave for 27 hours and slept for a couple hours before driving home, when I got home I had been up for 40 hours with only 2 hours sleep. Fisher Ridge is one tough trip!

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