Caving

Caving

 
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Camp's Gulf Cave

This is the chronicle of the cave spelunking adventure that I had the delight of participating in the weekend of 11-10-07.  My friend Shane Lewis, who is notorious for getting me into all manner of spatial dilemmas, invited me to go caving with him and some guys in Spencer, TN.  I had been badly in need of some adventure in my life, having been heavily sedated with too much routine and relative comfort in my life.  Yes, my senses had become dulled by the monotony of daily life here in the land of the living.  I had longed for some time for something to open me up and refresh my outlook on life.  It’s funny how the prospect of death can have that effect, is it not?

 
 
Cave of the Medallions

The history of this cave is really what really makes it interesting, it's fairly accessible which it makes it easy to get to.

 
 
Conley Hole

Conley Hole, sometimes called Viola Pit is one of the most outstanding examples of a classic pit in TN.  It opens at about 50' from the crown of the mountain, and is a bit difficult to find.  Upon arriving at the pit, there is a rock rim, some 10-15 feet thick , and after which the walls fall away.  This makes for quite a stunning rappel as you enter an underground dome as you rappel through the ceiling.  The drop is exhilarating and there is quite a large amount of flowstone decorations on the inside.  This is one of the more exciting pits I've done.

 

The bottom contains a high Talus cone, and the base of the cave is 200 feet in diameter.  There are no horizontal leads at the bottom.  A number of years ago (1910?), a platform was constructed across the mouth of the pit and visitors were lowered to the bottom on ropes.  A descent into the Conley Hole was said to be a popular Sunday afternoon pastime.  The platform has long since rotted and the visitors to the Conley Hole must now use their own means.

 

 
 
Espey Cave

Espey cave is a cave, particularly near to my heart as it was the first wild cave I ever had the privilege of exploring.  It was also geographically close to my home, which made it the spot for weekend caving, and I've probably logged hundreds of trips to this one in particular.  

I was first introduced to Espey in 1996, rappelling down the cliff face, and completely unaware that I would be descending right over the mouth of the cave.  The rappel was thrilling, in military style with nothing but a D ring and some webbing between you and the ground.  Also, being my first rappel, it was indeed a bit terrifying.  Then right in the middle of the rappel, the cliff face fell away and there stood before me, an enormous gaping hole in the side of the mountain with a heavy stream emerging from it.

My trepidation was quickly replaced with wonder and insatiable curiosity as I descended to the stream, soaking my shoes and became nearly instantly obsessed with the adventure of exploring what would be found inside.

 
 
Herring Cave

Herring Cave is a rather long stream cave which trends north and west for 2,000 feet. The mouth opens in a breakdown. For 400 feet the stream flows over a bare rock floor, but beyond it is contained in a deep channel with overhanging ledges on either side. Beyond the deep channel the stream is wide and shallow. Toward the end of the cave it meanders in a trench in the silt fill. Several large solution cavities are developed along joints normal to the controlling joints of the cave passage.

 
 
Smyres Well #1

A 96 foot climb through a methane filled chamber..

Looking for some adventure, and after a failed attempt to find this well, using only paces and a compass about two years previous, and after a successful but failed descent with Randy a year previous, Bobby Watts and I returned for a go at the unconquered pit.  After locating the pit once again, mind you, it's very difficult to find in a shallow 15 foot diameter depression...

 
 
Snail Shell Cave

Snail Shell Cave is the largest cave in one of the most extensive known cave systems in Tennessee. Together with Echo Cave and Nanna Cave, it forms a vast underground complex of which 8 miles of passages have been explored (fig. 104). The main channel of the cave is occupied by a stream which is ponded in huge lakes, the larger of which holds between 1 million and 2 1/2 million gallons of water. The actual flow of water is slight, except after heavy rains, when portions of the cave are apparently completely inundated and the stream becomes a raging torrent.

Snail Shell Cave system is a vast underground dendritic network, draining a relatively level limestone plain in which surface streams have made only shallow incisions. Sinkholes dot the low surface interfluves, leading downward into the underground system. Lapiez, sinks, and limestone pavement characterize the surface, which is either bare rock with a scattering of grasses and cactus, or dense cedar thicket with under¬brush of catbrier and young black locust

 
 
 
South Pittsburgh Pit (Sinkhole)

South Pittsburgh Pit, aka, Sinkhole, is a remarkable vertical cave near S. Pittsburgh, TN that is now on the TAG closed list, but is an amazing experience to behold.  Comprising one large opening at the top and a stream pouring into the opening, and a natural bridge that crosses the 155' drop to the bottom, this is a pit that can't be missed.

 
 
Worley's Cave (Morrill Cave)

Morrill (or Worley) Cave is a very large and well-known cavern which opens in a huge sink 3 or 4 acres in area. It is the longest known cave in East Tennessee. There are two entrances, an upper dry mouth and ...

 
 
 
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