bplist00__WebMainResource_ _WebResourceTextEncodingName_WebResourceData^WebResourceURL_WebResourceMIMETypeUUTF-8O__Near Normal Grotto

July 1996 NearNormal News

Jim Jacobs

We've recently received some good news! The low-lifes who were convicted ofvandalizing Floyd Collins' Crystal Cave have been hit with some prison time fortheir deeds. One of the perpetrators earned 33 months in federal prison, threeyears probation and 550 hours of community service. His two "helpers"each were given 21 months each in federal prison, three years of probation and500 hours of community service. There is bad news as well. "Cavetrashers" are rarely apprehended. These folks were exceptions. And, ofcourse, that portion of Crystal that they worked on is now spoiled for alleternity. As one who was lucky enough to see its wonders before this happened,I grieve, indeed. And I realize that the above sentences are about the mostthat we can expect. MY recommendation: take them to the next MVOR and introducethem to the gang at the bonfire, and tell them that the police will be back topick up the pieces (if any) in the morning!

Our star is rising! At the recent Blackball Mine gating project, the NNGgarnered high praise from representatives of Bat Conservation International andthe Illinois Department of Conservation. They were very appreciative of thefact that the NNGr's who participated in the week's labor brought to the tablea broad spectrum of talents and knowledge, and were willing to work hard tohelp bring this important project to completion in a shorter time period thanhad been planned. Good job, NNG! Our special thanks are due to Don Coons, whoinitiated the Blackball mapping project as a first task for a fledgling grotto,and to president John Marquart, whose organizational expertise and diplomaticskills brought these various organizations together to bring this project tofruition. A copy of a letter from State Biologist Bill Glass is included inthis issue. We can be proud!

Calling all Cave Babes! Cave Babe T-shirts can be ordered through LindaBundy. This year's shirt reads, "CAVE BABE, SWEET AND DIRTY AT THE SAMETIME. DON'T PUSH ME!!! Order forms are available from Marty Jacobs, or you maymail your order to: Linda Bundy, 499 Young Street, Franklin, IN 46131, or call(317) 736-8841. Price: $10.00 (S-XL) or $11.00 for larger sizes, plus $1.50 forshipping and handling. If you are participating in the NSS Field Camp atMammoth in August and want to just pick up your shirt from Linda at that time,let her know when you order, and you can omit the shipping charge. This year'scolor is forest green.

Treasurer Julie Angel is in the process of securing a grotto bank account.After nearly five years of keeping the treasury in a cigar box (so to speak), Iguess it's about time. We're still growing [sigh]. The final pebble was thefact that the State of Illinois is going to reimburse (at least partially)those who participated in the Blackball gating project for their motel rooms.The check must be made out to the grotto, which means that we finally had toget around to getting a bank account. I understand that this account will notcost us anything, except the price of the blank checks.

I understand that we will be getting our grotto patches at this meeting! Weordered some extras, so bring your checkbooks if you haven't already ordered.

Brian Valentine's new email address is: brianv@comply1.com The NNG home pagewill also have a new address, but it's not yet available.

JO SCHAPER recounts her experiences with rockshops selling speleothems.
NORM ROGERS fills us in on the BBM gating project.
BRIAN ROEBUCK describes his encounter with bad air in a cave.
LARA STORM tells us about the Advanced Cave Exploration course that she tookthrough Western Kentucky University. Lara also reports on her exploration ofBird's Eye Cave.
MARTY JACOBS reports on her trip to Click's Cave.
TONJA FRAZER talks about the Illinois RiverWatch Network. She also reports onthe most recent trip to Blackball and Zimmerman Mines.

By special request, we've also for the first time included guidelines forsubmission of articles to the NNN. We want to make it as easy as possible.Thanks to all of the above for contributing to this issue.

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Jim Jacobs


The Near Normal grotto meets the fourth friday of each month (with variancesaround holidays, check the three-month calendar on the inside front cover ofeach newsletter). The NEAR NORMAL NEWS is issued six times per year; January,March, May, July, September, and November. Articles submitted for the NEWSshould be RECEIVED by friday, two weeks before the meeting, (or by sunday, atleast, with advance arrangement).


Articles may be submitted in many forms: They may be handwritten, typed oron computer disk. Since I will have to retype any handwritten or typedsubmissions, please get them to me as far in advance of the deadline aspossible. Articles on computer disk should be either WordPerfect 5.1 (orlower), or plain vanilla ASCII (DOS-text).


Co-Editor Brian Braye handles all GRAPHICS and layout. Any photographs, mapsor lists which need to be scanned into the computer may be sent directly to himat 1503 S. Madison, Bloomington, IL 61701

I function primarily as COPY editor. Any articles, on paper or on disk maybe mailed to me at 813 W. Washington, Bloomington, IL 61701, or emailed tojjacobs@rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu Of course, any emailed files must be in plain oldASCII.


SCIENTIFIC ARTICLES: Although this is not a technical journal, any articlesaddressing technical or scientific issues should hold to a high standard ofexperiment and proof, citing references where appropriate.

TRIP REPORTS: Some of our members cave frequently, some less frequently.Others have retired to their armchairs. It is my belief that trip reportsshould be written in an informal, personal nature, recounting the experiencesand feelings of a caving trip, so that members who did not participate can"crawl along" with the author and enjoy the trip vicariously.Humorous anecdotes are encouraged, but include nothing mean-spirited whichwould embarrass anyone or hurt their feelings.

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Friday June 24, 1996

The meeting was called to order by President, John Marquart at 7:13pm.Members in attendance were: Beth Reinke, Julie Angel, Tonja Fraser, Len Storm,Lara Storm, Mark Valentine, Brian Valentine, D.C. Young, John Marquart, JohnWalther and Norm Rogers. Guests in attendance were: Danny Wahlfeldt, RandyWahlfeldt and Michelle Keyster.

OFFICER REPORTS: Secretary, Jim Jacobs was absent, so the minutes of the Maymeeting were not read. They will appear in the next issue of the Near NormalNews (NNN). Treasurer Julie Angel reported that we have $250.03 in theTreasury. Julie encouraged those who haven't paid their dues to do so. Severalideas for raising further funds for the Treasury were discussed: 1) Monies fromthe sale of surplus NNG patches from our recent order will be straight profitfor the grotto 2) Tonja will look into producing a NNG Calendar from some ofour favorite pictures 3) Brain Valentine mentioned that a company that sellsadvertising on the WWW will pay 3/4 cents per unique hit on our WWW Homepage.

TRIP REPORTS: Lara Storm reported on "Bird's Eye Cave". The cavewas shown to several NNG members participating in the Blackball Mine project bylocal resident, Larry Bird. The cave is on a hillside near the Blackball Mineand pinches off to a narrow tube (Lara's Delight) shortly after the entrance.Lara carried a tape measure 50 feet down the tube which is approximately onecubic Lara in diameter. John Marquart will submit a cave discovery form and mapto the Illinois Speleological Survey. John Marquart reported on the recentlycompleted Blackball Mine gating project. The project took just under 2 weeks tocomplete. Bill Glass (Illinois Department of Natural Resources) and Roy Powers(project engineer) spoke very highly of the help provided by the NNG and commentedthat the project would have taken 2 months to complete without our help. TheState of Illinois will be reimbursing the grotto for hotel bills accumulatedduring the project. Julie will coordinate disbursement of the payment. A nextstep our grotto may want to consider is further temperature monitoring of themine. Further details on the project and comments from Bill Glass will bepublished in the next NNN. Tonja Frasier reported on a trip to Click's Cave inIndiana. It was cold and wet in the cave, but there were beautiful formations.Tonja exchanged names and addresses with the landowners for possible futurevisits. Lara Storm reported on the Western KY University "Advanced CaveExploration Class" that she took at Mammouth Cave. She has a notebook ofclass notes and materials if anyone wants to see it. Guests, Randy and DannyWahlfeldt reported on a recent trip to Illinois Caverns.

OLD BUSINESS: Submissions for the next NNN are due by July 12. It wassuggested that postcard reminders of upcoming NNG meetings be sent to in-state,non-email members for special meetings only. The officers will decide whatconstitutes a "special meeting". Brian Valentine reported that theaddress of our Homepage will be changing as his employer is changing Webproviders. He will keep us posted on the new address. Brian Braye reported (viaJohn Marquart) that the NNG patches have arrived and look great! Julie Angelreported on tentative programs for our upcoming meetings:
July - Slide show by Don Coons
Aug - Bring your favorite pictures for a NNG Calendar
Sep - Climbing and rappelling at Upper Limits climbing gym
Oct - Sam Panno, IL Geological Survey will talk about his Water QualitySinkhole Plain Research

NEW BUSINESS: Julie Angel has obtained a Tax ID number for the grotto. Shewill look into setting up a grotto checking account. The fee to obtain"non-profit" status from the IRS is $150. After conversations withEvelyn Bradshaw (NSS Internal Organizations), John and Julie suggest that thegrotto produce some standard waivers of liability for NNG Membership and trips.John will try to find some sample waiver forms which were supposedly sent to usby NSS when the NNG was formed.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: There will be a trip to Blackball Mine on Sat July 13 toremark survey markings and assess the status of the temperature monitoring ofthe mine. Meet at 9am at the Racetrack. The next Keller Cave Cleanup is July20-21. Camping will be provided at Krueger Cave (near IL Caverns). The Julymeeting will be on Friday July 26th. Meeting closed 8:40pm.

After the meeting, Michelle Keyster from Heartland Community College gave apresentation on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources IllinoisRiverWatch Network, a network of citizens that help monitor, protect andrestore our state's rivers and streams.

Respectfully submitted,
Beth Reinke, Vice President.

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June 14-15
Marty Jacobs

The first NNG "Cave Babes" trip was such a hit that plans weresoon made for an encore. I contacted Linda Bundy in Indiana, and sheenthusiastically agreed to arrange for us to visit Click's Cave, near SalemIndiana. Jim and I had visited this cave last summer with Linda and Larry, andhad a great time, and I had always wanted to return. I was sure that others inour group would enjoy it as well.

The original plan was to visit Buckner's on friday, stay overnight at amotel in Bedford, and do Click's the next day, but it turned out that onlyTonja Frazer and I could go on that particular weekend. The plan was changed tojust a one-cave trip; Click's. Since there were only two of us, Linda offeredto let us stay in their new camper trailer to save the cost of the motel. Theyhad been experiencing a lot of rain, just as we had, so they kept close tabs onthe condition of the cave. Linda had a backup cave ready in case Click's shouldbe too wet.

We started out around 6:30pm friday evening, and arrived at the Bundy'shouse in Franklin, IN around 9:30 without incident. We spent the rest of theevening chatting and making plans for the next day.

After a hearty breakfast, we headed south toward Salem. Since Linda andLarry were involved in the survey and gating of this cave, we had no troublefinding it. Before entering the cave, we met Violet and Larry, the amiableproperty owners.

We happily geared up, anticipating a fun trip. The trip down the slopeleading to the entrance was quite muddy. Larry, anticipating that his helpmight be needed had come along on the trip. Sure enough, the gate was partiallyblocked by mud that had flowed down the sinkhole, and it took a lot of digging,mostly by Larry, to free the gate enough that we could get it open. The gate isat one end of a crevice at the bottom of the sinkhole, and you have to climbdown an old car frame to get to a ledge. Once you're past the gate, you have toscoot sideways on the ledge, and find the foothold which allows you to climbdown a seven foot drop. Once you know where the foothold is, it is easy, butit's a little scary the first time. After reaching the bottom of the climb,Tonja realized that she had left her loaded camera in the car. We decided notto go back after it, so that we would have a good excuse to visit Click'sagain.

The last visit, we had basically followed the old tourist trail, but thistime, Linda wanted to take a different route in order to show us a formationcalled "Neptune's Cups". These are some bowl-shaped rimstoneformations, and are quite impressive. We had to do a bit of crawling this time,but not much. We continued about a half hour beyond the cups to the point wherethe passage ends in breakdown. Along the way we were lucky enough to see somesalmon-colored salamanders a number of white crawfish. We backtracked to theentrance area, and started on the old tourist trail, which primarily followsthe stream. There are many places in this cave where old auto frames were usedto support wooden bridges which have long since rotted away. Now, Click'spresents the visitor with multiple choices along each route. There are usuallyone or two high levels to follow in addition to staying at stream level.Sometimes you are forced up high, then have to go back down. Since the streamwas much higher than on our last trip, we often had to choose from the higherroutes where last time we just waded the stream. At one point, it was necessaryto climb to a higher level to continue the trip. Larry, being 6 ft. 4, had noproblem, and Tonja made it as well. Linda and I wanted to see if we could findan alternative to the climb, so we looked around. Linda found a spot where shecould climb easily, but she was forced to then do a belly crawl over a verylarge bolder. As she was negotiating the crawl, I could see that it teetered alittle. Larry then offered to give me a hand getting over a crevice up to thehigher level so that I could avoid the tipsy bolder. One good heave fromLarry's strong arms, and I was up and over.

We followed the stream, but at a higher level, for a little while at least.We were later forced back down into the water, and it was quite cold! And thistrip, the water sometimes went well above my waist. This cave is susceptible toflooding, but Larry and Linda know how to gauge the safe water level in thecave by checking levels at an old mill nearby. As we went further back in thepassage, we could both hear and feel a rumble. As we drew closer, the noisebecame quite loud, and we came upon a very impressive waterfall, which was onlyabout 3-4 ft. tall, but the water was spilling over it with a lot of force, anda great roar!

We made our way across the top of the waterfall, and scooted across toanother area where we could make our way over one of the car frames to theother side. We follow the stream from there for quite a ways, until the ceilinggot too low. By now, we were very cold and wet, and not wanting to riskhypothermia, we decided it was time to turn back.

Reaching the point where we had changed levels on the way in, we were nowfaced with a decision: Do we want to climb down or risk jumping the crevice?After a brief discussion, Larry offered to climb down first and assist the restby spotting footholds and guiding our feet, and assisting with the final shortdrop. From there, it was a short walk to the entrance, the short climb,and wewere out. That climb is a lot easier going up, when you can see the footholds.

After we changed our clothes, we had a very nice visit with the landowners.When we left, we all had smiles on our faces, and an invitation to return.

Tonja and I would like to thank Larry and Linda for arranging our visit, andfor their hospitality. Good friends are forever!

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Norm Rogers

The events leading up to the gating project at the BlackBall mine have beenwell documented in previous issues of the NEWS. To mention individual's namesand their roles in the project would be unfair because of all the "behindthe scene" work done by so many for the past three years. Suffice it tosay that this project was a huge success due to the joint effort by so manymembers of the grotto, the State of Illinois, and Bat ConservationInternational.

During the two week project, some very impressive obstacles were recognizedand overcome. The first of which was how to get several tons of steel from thehighway, a mile through the woods, to the entrance of the mine. The rains,which turned the only road into an impassible quagmire, failed to dampen thespirit of determination possessed by those who took time away from home andfamily for the cause of bat conservation. The road was so bad at times thatonly farm tractors could navigate. The winch mounted to the front of a statetruck was well used, pulling vehicles from the mud.

Trees which had fallen across the trails had to be cut and moved to the sideto make way for pieces of angle iron, some up to thirty feet long and weighingover 600 pounds. A special dolly was made to help transport the material alongpaths through the woods and into the mine. Welding cable had to be strungthrough the weeds and along trails because the welding machines could not getclose enough to the work sites. At one point the cables were strung down an airshaft from the surface and suspended from special frames to keep them out ofwater that had pooled in the mine.

Workers fought legions of mosquitos, ticks, and a pack of inbred-mongreldogs to get the work completed. In spite of all these obstacles, there was nocomplaining. A feeling of co-operation and good cheer was always present.Throughout the project, when a worker began to tire, another would offer a jokeor a fun caving experience, spirits would be lifted, and the work wouldcontinue. As quickly as the steel could be delivered to the mine entrance,volunteers began fabrication the gates.

The first one covered a small entrance, five feet high and fifteen feetwide. Rocks, varying in size from pebbles to ten pounds, were dug from thefloor of the entrance to provide a level base on which to build the gate. Steelhaulers transported the angle iron to the work site. Stiffeners were weldedinto four inch angle iron at the base of the hill below the entrance. Afterbeing cut to the proper length, all pieces had to be hand-carried up to themine entrance. Welders, standing under a constant dripping from the roof of themine, welded the pieces into place. Slowly, the first gate was completed. Ittook three days. The process was repeated on the second entrance which waslarger, farther from the road, and obviously took longer to build. When the twoentrances were completed, workers were not allowed to rest upon their laurels.Work immediately began on the first of two gates inside the mine.

If one were to stand back and observe the entire project he would have to beimpressed that thirty-some people, unfamiliar with one another, couldaccomplish what was done in that two weeks. There never was a clash ofpersonalities or egos. Co-operation was the theme of the project. No one wasassigned a particular task or job by a boss or over-seer. Each worker just didwhat needed to be done at the time.

When the second Friday came and the project was complete, it was difficultfor the workers to say goodbye. Friendships that would last a while andmemories that would last a lifetime had been formed. More than just gates hadbeen built during those two weeks at the Black Ball Mine. All who were involvedwith the project agreed that it would have been near impossible to completewithout the help of the members of the Near Normal Grotto.

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Tonja Frazer

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, it's back to the mine I go! On Saturday, July 13th, I met upwith Leonard and Lara Storm, Norm Rogers and his brother, Don Coons, JohnMarquart, Julie Angel, and our newest members, Randy and Danny Wahlfeldt, and LarryBird. We met at the race track outside of Utica, and divided into groups. Themajority went into Zimmerman Mine to attempt to locate station markers. As faras I know, they found some markers that were on the walls, but didn't have muchluck with those that had been on the floor. John Marquart has more informationon this. Don, Leonard and I went into Blackball to do a leveling survey. I ammost definitely the wrong person to explain this process, but it involved usinga length of plastic tube, water and some yardsticks to determine the gradientwithin the mine.

While we were there, we checked on the gates that had been erected. Theywere all in good condition, and seemed to be getting the job done. We alsonoticed some bat droppings on the lower bars of the smaller outside gate, whichis a good indication that the bats are using this entrance frequently. This isa good sign!

Don, Leonard and I made it over to Zimmerman, and there I saw my first livebat colony. It gave me goosebumps! I could have stayed and watched all day! Iwas told they were a bachelor colony, and that they consistently roost in thesame area. I'm going back there for sure! I also found my own little Edenoutside the mine, a lovely spot I want to visit again when I have more time.

Next, we headed to Duffy's in Utica for some over-priced lunch served to usby an extremely grumpy waitress. She must not be too concerned with repeatcustomers! After filling up, we headed over to Starved Rock to visit CouncilBluff. It's definitely a beautiful spot. Cave? I'm not so sure!

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Tonja Frazer

I recently discovered an organization called the Illinois RiverWatchNetwork. They ar an AmeriCorps National Service program that is organized andrun by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. They have several officeslocated throughout the state, including one at Heartland Community College inBloomington. The staff consists of full and part time employees, usuallystudents, whose job consists of monitoring Illinois streams and rivers, andgiving presentations to schools and other organizations like the NNG. Thesepresentations are given in order to inform citizens about the program, and toattempt to recruit volunteers. They hooked me for sure!

Each monitoring trip follows a fairly detailed routine which includesmeasuring air and water temperature, stream width, depth, and velocity, plantand animal life in the area, and land usage. The most important part is thecollection of insect samples. The insects are classified by their tolerance topollutants and toxins. The classes range from I, in which the insects requirevery health conditions to survive, and IV, in which the insects could basicallysurvive in raw sewage. These samples are collected, labeled, entered into acomputer system and then sent on to the state. The state then studies thisinformation and compiles it into a year-to-year study.

My first monitoring experience was in Sugar Creek in Bloomington. Thisstream received a "fair" rating. Mostly class IV insects were found.My second experience was in the Little Mackinaw River outside of Mackinaw. Thisstream received a much higher rating. We found an abundance of insects that arein the class I group, including Mayflies and Caddisflies.

These trips don't take much time, and are SO educational. I have learned agreat deal and I am submitting my application this fall to become an intern forthe program next year. I think most of you readers would find this veryinteresting! After all, stream health affects cave health, and it's a lot offun! If you are interested, you can get in touch with me atTonjaF@gawain.hcc.cc.il.us or the IRWN at (309) 888-4148. Come on, give it atry. The rivers need us!

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BADAIR LEAVES A BAD TASTE Brian Roebuck broebuck@utsi.edu On June 22, 1996,members of HR3 (pseudo speleo faction of TCBG) set out to check out some newlyfound caves in the Rutherford County TN area. Member attending were RonZawislak, Don Lance, Keith Filson, and myself. Arriving at the first cave, anarrow 8-foot long opening was encountered which required rigging for a 30-footdrop. The cave's finder, Matt Sizemore, accompanied us. He had previouslyexplored the cave and told of two short drops separated by a small slopingroom. A small crawlway at the bottom of the last drop was unexplored.

As we began to rig to a handy tree, we started our customary survey andbegan to don our vertical gear. The heat being nearly unbearable, we hastilygot underground and began to cool off. The room at the bottom of the first dropsloped steeply into a small hole into which our smallest cavers (Keith andMatt) quickly surveyed. I, being a little healthier of build,tried to modifythe opening to avoid ripping ALL of my clothing off to get through. It was alsodifficult to avoid rolling loose rock down upon the two mini-cavers in thesmall room below.

Ron and Don brought up the rear, with Ron taking notes and Don sketching.

After the opening was properly modified, I squeezed into the small roomwhich also steeply sloped into an even smaller hole. This smaller hole leddownwards into a 25-foot pit. We stopped our survey here, carefully crawlingover each other and attempting to drop the rest of our 80-foot rope to thebottom of the second drop. As HR3 luck would have it, we had miscalculated thedistance between the two drops and had rigged it too short!

It was at about this time I began to feel strangely uneasy in this cave. Iactually volunteered to climb out into the heat and re-rig the rope, eventhough it meant climbing up out of the room I was in and then up the rope. Ishould mention that I am not a fast climber, and I was also not the nearestperson to the top by any means at this point. Since Don was the closest, hedecided to quickly climb and re-rig the rope which he accomplished in about1/100th of the time I could have done it.

We were then ready to send Keith down the last drop, a tight crack that evenhe had difficulty with. As Keith reached for his carbide lamp to blow it outtemporarily, it self-extinguished. We all thought this odd at the time. Iremember the flame being a little dull, but I thought he was low on carbide orwhatever. Keith panted hard through the crack and descended to the bottom. Igot in position for a pure vertical shot over the crack. I knew at this pointthat I could NEVER fit through the hole and take survey readings! I actuallywondered why I had gotten myself into such an awful cave, and had seriousdoubts about my ability to get out unaided! I was getting quite panicky andfinally told everyone I HAD to leave! As I struggled up through the nearvertical hole into the first room, I had great difficulty keeping my breath. Iremarked to Don and Ron that I was WAY out of shape...

I finally got out of the hole, and while on-rope I noticed that I was stillbreathing fairly hard. I went about 15 feet up and began to breath like a fishout of water! I was the slowest climber in the world and frequently rested onmy way up. I felt hot way before reaching the outside heat, but finally made itout and got off rope. At this point I decided to get going and head home, sincemy wife Lynn was expecting me home early. Ron, Don, Keith and Matt were stilldown below, finishing the survey.

Later, Don called me that night to tell me what happened afterwards. As Donentered the small second room, he quickly noticed the smallness of the entranceto the second drop. After getting on-rope and trying out the hole for size, hethought he could squeeze through going down, but coming out was questionable.

Keith reported from down below that the crawlway ended after about 15 feet,so only a single shot was required. Don told Keith to take a few quickmeasurements, and he would sketch in the last 15 feet of crawl at the bottom.

At about this time Ron had started down the tight hole between the twodrops, and he noticed that his carbide flame was very dim. Ron and Don hadnoticed problems with Ron's light in the first room, and Ron had given hiscaplamp a tip reaming and fresh carbide. While in the hole, he also noticed hisheavy breathing. Finally it dawned on him that there could be bad air in thiscave! Ron announced his suspicions to everyone below. Keith, who had beensitting/resting at the bottom of the cave for almost an hour, noticed his rapidbreathing and stood up. He said he felt a little better after a few breaths. Henoted that his hands were shaking as he donned his vertical gear to begin hisascent. He described the 25-foot climb to be as tiring as climbing 150 feet ingood air! All the other cavers also noticed increased anxiety and heavybreathing. Ron climbed out of the cave, and Matt started up the tight holebetween the drops. Don stayed at the entrance of the second drop until Keithwas up, then they quickly derigged and made their way up to the first room.Once there, Don climbed up after Matt, and Keith finally started up last. Likemyself, they were all happy to be out of that cave! Everyone agreed that hotgood air was MUCH better than cold bad air!

When I had arrived home, I told my wife Lynn (who didn't go this trip) how IREALLY didn't enjoy the trip! It wasn't until after Don called that eveningthat I understood why. I was GLAD to hear that I wasn't losing my love for cavingand that I really wasn't in as bad a physical condition as I was led tobelieve! It was difficult for me to understand my sudden anxiety about thiscave until Don called. I had even considered quitting caving if I was affectedlike this again. Now I know better, and through this story maybe some othersout there will recognize the symptoms early enough to keep out of danger andenjoy their trips.

In retrospect, we really didn't pay attention to the symptoms. They were allthere: The trouble with the carbide lights, the heightened anxiety as we gotdeeper into the cave, the rapid breathing, the trouble with maneuvering throughthe cave...Both Ron and Don had been in bad air caves before, but they wereboth in the upper first room where the air was the best, and didn't notice theeffects until they were down in the lower level.

One possible reason why we didn't notice the signs earlier was that the cavecould have contained barely enough oxygen in the beginning, and was replaced bythe exhaled carbon dioxide of five cavers in a small area.

There is one more cave awaiting our inspection on the far side of the junglefilled hill. It is supposed to be horizontal and free from the possibility ofbad air. We'll see about that later! Anyway, I'll be packing a BIC from now onin new caves! Amen.

My thanks to Mr. Don Lance who not only got me into this situation in thefirst place but also edited this story and filled in some of the gory details!

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Lara Storm

The gating project at Blackball Mine was just beginning, and it was off to agood start. So naturally, when a local resident made mention of a cave in thearea, we didn't feel too bad about taking off with him to check it out. Thelocal, whose name is Larry Bird, led Beth Reinke, d.C. Young, Don Coons, JohnMarquart and I through the forest to a small ravine that slopes down to theedge of a stream (the second day, John, Norm Rogers and I went to survey).Struggling to keep our balance across the loose dirt, we made our way down thesteep side of the ravine to find ourselves staring at an honest-to-goodnesslimestone cave! We didn't stare for long. Soon, we had each stepped down theleaf-filled slope at the entrance into the first room of the cave. The floorwas uneven, and it dipped down a few more feet into the ground, forming a smallrut that led to the lower level. The first people inside had to continue intothe second room through a small squarish window before others could fit inbehind. Going through the window, we came upon a pit no deeper than four feet.The problem was that we had to free our legs from the window before we couldproceed, or we would end up going head-first into the pit.

So far, there are two leads in the cave. One is on a high level that exitsas a tubular crawlway from the second room. The other begins at the bottom ofthe first room and goes underneath the window to connect with the shallow pitin the second room. From the pit, the lower crawlway heads in the same generaldirection as the tubular crawlway at the top of the pit.

While some were content to sit and watch, I decided to do some exploration.Once I was completely inside the second room, I was able to lay down inside thepit, all curled up, and stretch my body out into the passageway beneath. Whilethe tubular crawlway is fairly clear of broken rocks, the lower crawlway islittered with them. After going several feet, I discovered that some largerocks ahead blocked the way. Unless these rocks could be moved, my search wouldbe narrowed down to one lead. I wasn't disappointed yet, though. I quicklybacked out of the belly crawl I had been in, eager to check out the moreobvious of the two leads--the tube.

The tube is a neat little crawlway no bigger than a steering wheel in anyone place. It seems to be divided into sections, each about 25 feet in length,that are separated in the middle by a tight spot. This midpoint in the crawlwayrequires you to raise your arms in order to go farther, but even this didn'twork for Norm, the only other to attempt the crawl. The first time I went inthe cave, I "turned back" shortly after this point, realizing that myhope of finding a place to turn around was not going to happen. Staring downthe tube, I noted that it appeared to go on, while remaining the same do-ablesize--small, but cozy.

The next day, returning to the tube with renewed ambition, I again made myway fifty feet down the tube to the approximate area I had stopped the daybefore. It didn't take me long to discover that the continuation of the tube asa consistent size is a deception. It gets smaller. My helmet began to hit theceiling more frequently than before, I decided to remove it. I realized that itwas just as much of a burden to push it in front of me as it was to wear it.Not to mention that it blocked my view, making the gradually tightening tubeeven more uncomfortable to negotiate. I just wanted to make it to the bend upahead to see what was around the corner. My curiosity was killing me! Butunfortunately, my mental discomfort was hurting my curiosity just as badly. Ibegan to realize that, should I get stuck, there were few who would be able tosqueeze through the pinch in the middle of the crawlway to retrieve me. Thoughseveral people made mention of tying a rope to my feet as an alternative methodof pulling me out, I vetoed this idea rather rapidly. For some strange reason,I just didn't think it would work.

After a little bit of surveying with John and Norm, I left the cave for thesecond time. For the next couple of days that I wa at Blackball Mine, I hadintentions of going back to the tube and wearing a Maglight strapped to theside of my head (this may have solved all my problems). But after a hard day'swork at the mine, I could never find the energy. To my delight, a return triphas been scheduled. I look forward to going back to the cave, which we namedBird's Eye Cave after Larry Bird, the man who led us to it. We, in turn, ledhim to become a new member of our grotto. I will return to the tube (which,oddly enough, we decided to call "Lara's Delight"), and I won't leaveuntil I find the end (because, after all, I did promise John that I would finda larger entrance).

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by John R. Marquart

The discovery of Bird's Eye Cave at Pecumsaugan Creek - Blackball MineNature Preserve was particulary significant to some of us who had for yearsbeen hearing of a "rumored cave up Pecumsaugan Creek on its westside." Some of us had search for such a cave near creek level to no availand concluded that no such cave exists. Limestone caves are virtually unheardof in this part of La Salle County, Illinois. A few sandstone shelters areknown in the region, but no limestone caves. We now have an authentic phreatictube in limestone which is apparently the "rumored cave." We had beenlooking in the wrong place. It is near the top of the bluff overlookingPecumsaugan Creek, not near the stream level. Larry Bird, who pointed it out tous, says that there is another smaller cave in the bluff on the opposite sideof the creek. We will check it out. We will be adding these caves to the cavefiles of the Illinois Speleological Society.

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Lara Storm

Western Kentucky University offers a variety of courses from which caveenthusiasts can choose if they are looking for a little bit of educationalcaving. Course choices range from highly scientific (Karst Hydrology, taught byDr. Arthur N. Palmer) to highly strenuous (Speleology, taught by RogerBrucker). I recently participated in the Advanced Cave Exploration courseoffered by WKU, taught at Mammoth Cave by Richard Zopf and Dr. John Mylroie. Itwas a very worthwhile experience, and I highly recommend these courses to allour grotto members!

During this course, participants learned about exploration strategy. Theyhad the option of spending a night in the cave, and also learned (or refreshedthemselves on) the basics of ascending and rappelling. In addition, they got totake a turn at leading the group in exploration. They were encouraged to keeptrack of where they had been, so when they had to turn back, they would be ableto retrace their steps. During the week, two 10 1/2 trips were taken-- onethrough Crystal and one through Mammoth. Other shorter trips were taken daily,and a reward caving trip was scheduled on Saturday for those who still had alittle bit of energy.

For more information about the Karst Studies classes, you may write to Dr.Nicholas Crawford or Dr. Chris Groves at: Center for Cave and Karst Studies,Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling GreenKentucky 42101-3576. You may also register online at http://www.wku.edu/www/geoweb/karst/or call (502) 745-4555.

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Jo Schaper

Jo posted this piece on the internet in response to the following query:

>Cave vandalism is also against the law in Missouri. But in my frequenttravels around southern Missouri, I can't say that I know of any rock shopsthat sell speleothems. I have seen on occasion grave sites adorned withstalagmites that have been there for so many decades that you can hardly tellwhat they are. Does anyone else know of any use of speleothems outside of cavesin the Ozarks?


Well, I read one vendor the riot act at a psychic fair last year. She wasselling speleothems, from Missouri, even claimed they were from public land.Wasn't much I could do as the way the law is written, 1) you have to know wherethey came from and be able to go back into that cave and match them up--whichrealistically will only happen if you see them taken; and 2) if they are onprivate land, they have to be taken without the knowledge of the landowner. Ifthe owner says it is ok and won't prosecute, a second party doesn't have acase. I ran through all this with Vineyard at the time. The lady was p.o.ed,because I took her card, then got the organizer of the psychic fair (a friendof mine) to talk to her. She said I was harassing her business. She wasclaiming the speleothems were aphrodisiacs! She also claimed to have read everylaw in the state of Missouri, and told me I was making the cave law up. I senther a copy of the cave law, and no, she never found out who I was.

Rock show exhibitions even here in Mo., routinely sell speleothems fromIndiana quarries,(yes, they really are) some stalactitic iron ore from Missouricaves, and aragonite as well as the usual Mexican onyx junk. If you don'tpersonally know the details of the speleothem acquisition, it is your wordagainst theirs, no more, no less. I've even seen speleothem collections ondisplay with prize ribbons attached. Some mom & pop caves here (no nameswill be given) sell stuff from their caves-- it is within their legal right todo so. (The caves generally aren't so great, they are eking their living, andthere isn't much point since, these people are Ozarkers, by gum, and no citygal is gonna change them.) And, of course, there are legitimate museumexhibits, though some might think speleothems out of caves are as out of placeas dead Indian bones there. I have seen stalactites in Rocks of Missouri sets,being sold. (*Not* at Onondaga!) And dead bats in formaldehyde aspaperweights.(Yuck). Oh, yes, cave rocks at fleamarkets, too. Several years agoAdam Marty found someone selling speleothems from their truck in FranklinCounty. He called the sheriff's office, and they pretty much laughed in hisface. By the time the cops got there, the guy was gone, was the story I heard.I don't know of legit full time rockshops selling anything but Mexican junk,but where does speleothem start and "banded calcite" leave off? Thereis no doubt an under the counter trade in these things.

With all these instances, have I kept my mouth shut? Not really. But it isaccomplishes nothing to shoot off your mouth as a self-righteous idiot. Itmight be better to befriend these folks, and gently show them the light,especially if what they are doing is legally ok, but morally questionable.

The Crystal Cave bust was a good start. But that was a pretty airtight case.We need such a precedent here.

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