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Worley's Cave (Morrill Cave)
Worley's Cave (Morrill Cave) 2012-02-28 23:50:44 Craig Patton
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Reviewed by Craig Patton    February 28, 2012
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Worleys Cave 2-25-12

Time 10:10am, the date is 2-25-12. We entered the Worley’s Cave on a day of frigid temperatures after a powerful cold front blew through overnight, replacing temperatures in the high 60’s the day before with highs in the 30’s with 20-30 mph winds, gusting higher. We had five men entering the cave, 3 cave virgins, one experienced spelunker, and one guy with one other spelunk under his belt (that was me). There is a landowner who owns the rights to the cave, but he is very gracious to allow unfettered access to the cave for a modest $5/head parking fee (that’s per person, not per car). We met in two vehicles at the house and after signing the release form and paying the fee, we headed down the path to the cave where we did a gear check, talked about safety, and headed to the cave. Worley’s Cave has two entrances adjacent to one another. The lower entrance on the left is beside a stream exiting the cave, and the preferred entrance on the right leads to the upper passage of the cave which more or less parallels the lower passage zigzagging in and out of the creek. The temperatures inside the cave remain a balmy 58 degrees year round, so it was necessary to ditch some of the winter gear because the exertion level inside this cave is quite high so you get warm really quickly. If you’ve never been caving before, the first thing you notice is that it’s dark. Unlike on Indiana Jones movies where there always seems to be light all inside of caves and tunnels, the reality is that if you lost your light source then you would really be in a predicament. There is no feeling your way out. So if you go on our next expedition, you will have to take lots of batteries and at least 3 independent light sources. We had a plan to spend the night in the cave, but we decided to leave the sleeping gear in the car and even if we wanted to camp inside, we could come back and grab the gear relatively easy. Worleys’ Cave is not terribly difficult to navigate, there aren’t a great deal of diverging passages of any real length. It’s basically a long upper cave that goes about 5 total miles back paralleling a stream. At any rate, it has some decent formations, some challenging terrain, and is an excellent cave for first time, intermediate, or advanced cavers. It really does have something for everyone, and you can modify your route quite easily based on your group’s skill level. We were attempting to make the 6 mile round trip to the back of the cave, but we later opted to turn it into a 2.5 mile loop coming out of the river in the lower cave. That basically involved half walking/half swimming out of an underground river. It was a bit quicker and definitely more adventurous than coming out the way we came in. There is a decent amount of athleticism needed to successfully navigate this cave. There are places where you need to be able to pull your own body weight (and gear) up slippery embankments, and there are numerous places where you have to learn the art of “cave sliding”, which essentially involved squatting down on your butt and feet at the same time and sliding, using your hands as paddles. There is a lot of clay and moisture in this cave, so it’s definitely slippery in some places. There was a hidden passage, of sorts, that we were unsuccessful in locating that granted access to the back third of the cave. By the time we got back to where we thought we had missed it, we had met up with a pretty large group of fellow adventurers (male and female) who had “official” tour guides. We were kind of amazed that out of the 3 “guides” that we inquired of, none of them had actually been to the back of the cave. How lame is that? But by that time we realized that it might be better left for another expedition, so that’s when we made the decision to go ahead and egress via the underground stream. We all later agreed that it was the highlight of the trip jogging through an underground river tunnel with water going from ankle depth to hip depth at places. All in all, we were 5 hours inside the cave. It didn’t even require a change of batteries on any of our parts, but a change of clothes was definitely in order. We’re already talking about setting up round two with this cave. Stay tuned to for information and sign ups for the next trip!


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April 15, 2012
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What a great article Craig.
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