Sunday, June 21, 2009

Clarksville Redux

May 23rd we revisited Clarksville Caves just outside of Albany, NY. As I am trying to light a fire under some friends' tails to get caving ('cause after all, the world could use a few more responsible cavers out there). We drove down the previous Friday evening hoping to arrive at the hotel before 11:00 om (like the last time), and after some crafty maneuvering on my part, we arrived just after ten o'clock (I don't drive like a granny ALL of the time).

So, after a good night's rest we arrived at the now familiar sink of Ward-Gregory, aka Clarksville cave. We found that we were the second vehicle to arrive, the first person was a very informative gentleman who happened to be a representative of the Northeastern Cave Conservancy (and is also the warden of nearby Onequethaw Cave, a very wet cave with some notorious features such as "The Barnyard"). He asked us if we were familiar with White Nose Syndrome (a disease that is responsible for the death of approximately 1,000,000 of the hibernating bats in the affected area, some of which are the endangered Indiana Bat Myotis sodalis and the adorable Virginia Big Eared Bat Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus. The fungus has just been classified and more can be read about it here). I explained that we were, and of my recent trip down into Virginia and West Virginia and what we had found there.

So, we headed into the cave, this time our goal being to get better pictures than the last (caves have the amazing ability to swallow light as it turns out), and to finally make it back to the Lake Room, a goal that we fell just short of as it turns out the last time we were in.

Clarksville is always a joy to go into, even though it is well visited. The recent good rains had raised the stream level a bit, but nothing that the use of wet-suit socks couldn't keep at bey. After reaching the point where we had stopped the last time (just upstream of the Thook Passage and Pictograph Crawl, I scouted ahead through an up-climb and found the passage dropped back down into a pleasant if not wet walking passage. The trick was to get everyone else to do it! After a little cajolling, and allowing the novices to lead, we made it through and came upon the Lake Room. After a few minutes of picture taking (this time with a mini-tripod and using Keluo Yao's light painting technique) we headed back through the crawl to the main passage. One more stop for picture taking (and did a not too shabby job), we headed out for some lunch at the neaby, recently re-opened establishment called June's for some hot coffee and brunch. All in all, a sucessful introductory trip into Clarksville Caves.

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