Thursday, September 12, 2013

TAG 2012

TAG 2012

The 2013 TAG Fall Cave in is only a month away, I thought I would share some of my pictures from last year.
I believe 2012 is the 12th Cave-In that I have attended. I have only missed one since I began caving, I hope that is the only one I will miss. This year was a fun year;  it was my Dad’s 50th birthday so He, my brother and I went together as a celebration. We had a great time at camp socializing, did some classic caves, some easy caves and a few new ones to me.

We arrived at the TAG Campground on Friday morning and setup our camp. We wandered around the site saying Hi to familiar faces and waiting for the rest of our group to show up. We rarely have a plan when we get there so the first few hours is; “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know, where do you want to go?”
We decided to make a return trip to Cedar Ridge Crystal Cave. This is not an overly large or extensive cave, but it is very heavily decorated and makes for some incredible photo opportunities.

We spent  a few hours in the cave with a cool group of people from Florida taking pictures and making jokes.

After leaving and locking the cave behind us we headed to Logging Camp Cave. This cave is not far from Cedar Ridge and requires fording a river, climbing a steep river bank and following an old logging road to a sink hole.

Here we rigged a hand line to assist in getting in and out of the cave. It can be a rather slippery breakdown climb. Instantly one arrives in a tall dome room with grey scalloped walls and a walking canyon passage leading out. The walking passage dead ends shortly but there is a short squeezy climb that leads to much bigger cave. It was tighter for some than others…

The climb dumps you atop of a large breakdown slope, traverse down the breakdown and you are in huge beautiful serpentine borehole. This leads to another breakdown climb, at the top is a perfect little sanctuary of formations that made for a nice photo op. From here the cave gets tight and muddy. We poked around for a while and then headed back to camp.

The next morning we joined with Brian Williams, Bill Walker and his daughter to head up to a TAG classic, Rusty’s Cave. Rusty’s is on Fox Mountain and managed by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy.

It is a nice hike up the mountain in early October, it is not too terribly hot and the leaves are just beginning to change. Last year a number of tornadoes devastated the area and we hardly recognized the entrance with a all of the tree fall.

We rigged the rope and made the short rappel into the cave. We headed downstream taking plenty of time to enjoy the formations and take pictures. There are a few “memorable”  formations that you have to take a picture with…

We continued downstream until we reached the wet crawl and we headed back.

From here Brian, Woody, Andy and myself decided to make the trip over the mountain to Byers Cave. Last year Sara and I made the hike but could not find the cave entrance.

This year we found it. It starts off small with crawling. Once inside there is a fair amount of technical climbing, chimneying and spanning over deep fractures. It is actually a relatively terrifying cave.

Finally after a miserable crawl you pop into a huge borehole passage. We went left. It was neat cave; there were big shale breakdown piles, incredible formation gates, large domes, huge haystacks, massive columns, big rooms and a beautiful river.

Brian and I did not get out of the cave until well after dark and it was a long hike back over Fox Mountain. It was a neat cave, but not for the faint of heart and bring a hand line.
Next we visited Tally Cave. This cave was once used as a bomb shelter and later a grow operation. To get in you must rappel 20’ down  a steel culvert and crawl through and old doorway.

The first room has been trashed with graffiti. There were many Cave Salamanders in this first room munching on the remains of a unfortunate buzzard.

We continued onward, climbing down a ladder made of a bed frame that we affectionately call the Jesus Ladder.

We ended up pushing to the bitter end of this cave, it was tight muddy and pristine.
We hung out at the fire that night relaxing with old friends and new.

The next morning we packed up camp and headed out. We had breakfast at this little mom and pop place. No matter what you order they gave you they want, “Turkey Sandwich?... I told them ham was ok.”
Then we went to Pettyjohn’s Cave to relax and play. It is actually a relatively technical cave. This cave has an insane amount of traffic. The main rout has been polished by thousands of spelunker butts. It was a fun cave for the last day and we all had a good time exploring the serpentine river passage, sketchy climbs, and spray pain navigation.

TAG 2012 was a lot of fun.