Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cave #22 - Custard Hollow Cave

After I got back to the campground from Overlooked Cave, I put my helmet outside of the tent, leaving it there overnight. Unfortunately, it rained pretty heavily that night while I was asleep, so the Apex got completely soaked again and was back to having the same problems it was having the day before. Everyone was planning on going to Custard Hollow Cave that morning, so I didn't have time to get it all dried out again before we left on the trip.

Fortunately, fellow caver Alan Cook from Birmingham had an extra cheap led light that he let me borrow. I put it on the helmet, thanked him profusely, and climbed into the back of the waiting pickup truck. Custard Hollow is only a few miles from Sinking Cove, but it's on some fairly rough dirt roads, so like true Alabama rednecks we loaded up 30 people in three pickup trucks and headed down the road. It was a pretty wild ride, and dodging the limbs was the primary concern.

Truck #3 Full of Alabama Redneck Cavers

We all got to the parking area with only minor lacerations, and everyone unloaded and got geared up. We took a group photo, then we all headed up the mostly dry stream bed to get to the entrance. After a very short walk we came to the first of three entrances to the cave, which are all pretty close together. Half of us went in the first entrance while the other half went to the second. All the entrances come into the same entry room, which is mostly scalloped canyon with a good bit of water flowing through it.

Group Shot Before Entering Custard Hollow Cave

There was some crawling soon after this room, and the first place you're really required to get wet. This cave has a lot of water in it, mostly in waist deep pools. The water is cold, and the first time you dip your boys into it is not so pleasant, but after a while everything from the waist down just goes numb and you deal with it. There were a few spots that required some crawling and a bit of bent-over duck walking, but most of the cave was big booming borehole that goes on for miles and gets bigger as you go deeper.

As we got deeper into the cave, we split into lots of smaller groups, which changed up a lot as people stopped to rest or one group went off in a different direction. There's a good number of decorations in the cave and I didn't see many broken formations either, even when they were right next to the path like one really pretty piece of cave bacon was. I guess since the cave is so remote and access is somewhat restricted the yahoos haven't gotten in there to break everything.

I went pretty far back in the cave, but didn't push it as far as some people did. I came to another low crawl and was feeling pretty tired at that point, so I decided to turn back with Terry and Van and we exited the cave together. We did get turned around at one point and ended up in a pancake room that may have kept going but I was generating so much fog at that point that I couldn't see far enough to tell.

Also, I really missed my Apex on this trip. The borrowed light was adequate when I turned on my mini-mag to go along with it, but I realized that there has been an arms race going on in cave lights the last few years, and a 15 dollar Walmart light is not going to illuminate much for you when you're surrounded by Sten-Lights, Apexs, and big carbide lamps. When I was away from all of the people with those lights it was fine, but when they were near me my eyes couldn't adjust enough for my spot beam to do much good.

After we got back to the campground, after another wild ride, James and I walked up to the resurgence entrance and rinsed off in the pools. We went back as far as the twilight zone, but we didn't have lights with us. I'm not counting it as a cave visit anyway. I found a pretty large snake skin around one of the pools, but no sign of the snake it belonged it. We had a great meal that night, with Jason Wall smoking up about 30lbs of butt all day and a great buffet of other stuff layed out as well.

It rained again that night, but this time I had all my stuff in the tent. We packed up pretty early the next morning and headed back to Nashville. This cave was definitely a treat, especially considering I had never heard of it until that weekend. There's still more of it to see, so I look forward to going back soon.

If you want to see more pictures, head over to Spelunkologists.com and see the three pages of pictures from the trip that they have up there. All the pictures in this blog post are courtesy of the photographers there.

Hatch and Others Enter Custard Hollow Cave

1 comment:

gordonnc said...

Hi! I am a student at Vanderbilt University, and I love reading your cave trip reports. I am not from around the Nashville area, and I have had trouble finding information on caves close to the city to explore, with the exception of Jackson Cave at Cedars of Lebanon State Park. I am just wondering if you know of any resources on non-technical caves close to Nashville, or if you could provide me with any tips on places to explore from your own experience. I would really appreciate it if you could contact me at nick.gordon@vanderbilt.edu.

Thank you so much!