I took off work this past Friday to spend a long weekend in North Alabama at the South Eastern Regional Association (SERA) Cave Carnival, which was held in Buck's Pocket State Park in DeKalb County. Being married with children, I only get to go caving about once or twice a month, and the opportunity to have a whole weekend to cave won't come along too often. So I was hoping to go to a good cave on Friday, then a few on Saturday before heading back to Nashville on Sunday.
A fellow Nashville Grotto member, Don Harter, had said he had some potential dig sites along the way he'd like to check out if we wanted to accompany him. We talked it over on Thursday night, and agreed to follow Don to a potential new cave site the next day to check it out. I was curious because the one we picked was next to a pit he called Thor's Hammer, so I had to see anything with that cool of a name.
Bob, Jay, Tony, and I left my house about 6:30
Friday morning and headed down I24. We met Don at a Shoney's and after breakfast we followed him down to Stevenson, Alabama and headed out in the middle of nowhere to Little Coon Mountain. We drove up a dry, rocky stream bed and parked in a large grassy area. We grabbed our caving gear and headed up an old logging road.
Don hadn't really described this "cave" that we
were going to visit very well, so I was under the impression that it was a lead in an existing cave that we were going to try to dig out some. After walking up the road for about half a mile or so, we turned and went up the side of the hill to where there were large piles of rock. Don showed us Thor's Hammer, which is about a 30' deep pit, with another 20' or so of passage at the bottom. It's not too impressive and definitely doesn't live up to it's name. Bob is shown to the right squatting in front of it.
Up the hill just a little from this pit and to the left was the pit that Don has brought us all here to see. It was about 2.5 feet wide and went down about 4 feet with a 6 inch wide vertical crack on the bottom. Don dug on it with his shovel for a bit, while the rest of us stood there and thought about how we'd love to be in a real cave about now. Tony climbed down in the hole to check things out, and I handed him my camera which he used to take a picture as best he could past the small crack, to see if it was even worth bothering with.
We couldn't really tell anything from the pictures,
so we finally rigged up a rope and pulley to a tree, tied it around Tony's ankles and he went into the hole head first. He stuck his head in the crack and found that it had a small pit beyond that went down only about 10 feet. So the pit was about 15 feet total, which doesn't qualify as a cave. So we trudged back down the trail to our cars and after a trip to the Wal-Mart and some burgers at Hardee's, we made it to SERA about 2pm, just in time to register, get our tents set up and see what was going on. There were no cave trips being planned that day, so I drove to Cullman to have dinner with my old friend Dave and got back to the campground to get some sleep for the next day.
I'm not really mad at Don, since it came close to being an actual cave. I should have just gone to what I know was a real cave so I didn't waste an entire potential day of caving. There's over 2500 known caves in Jackson County, Alabama so there would have been lots of choices.