While there were no survey trips in Perkins in 2018 – we were preoccupied with Spring VAR and other things – 2019 is shaping up to be a good year.
January 5, 2019
On January 5, Steve Ahn, Terri Brown, and I were joined by a large contingent of Triangle Troglodytes (Carlin Kartchner, Ken Walsh, Dave Duguid, Emily Graham, Rachel Saker, Michael McBride, Vardell Smith, Peter Hertl, and Ava Mankoff). With Ken, Dave, Carlin, and I all prepared to sketch, we were able to divide into four teams.
Steve, Terri, and I headed out beyond the 800 Foot Crawl. Dave and his survey team traveled in with us to the top of the 50 foot climb up from stream level. They picked up their leads there, pushing several passages that all ultimately head north back toward the furthest reaches of the 1400 Foot Walk. After being stopped by a deep pit in the main passage, they tried some side leads that I thought were probably virgin (Dave reports probably one caver had been through previously). They were then able to bypass the pit and continue toward the 1400 Foot Walk. This bypass does not appear on the original map. The main passage beyond the pit is on the old map, but with a known significant error. In the meantime, Carlin led the rest of the Tri-Trogs to the 1400 Foot Walk, where they began by mopping up some side leads on the east side of the passaging approaching Square Pit. This area is now completed thanks to their efforts. They then pressed onward to the far end of the 1400 Foot Walk, completing the survey of most of what remained in that area. They were able to make a handshake connection to Dave’s team in passage above them and took a survey shot through to facilitate closing the loop on the next trip. The Tri-Trogs added a total of 1000 feet of survey in a 12 hour trip, exiting the cave around midnight.
Steve, Terri, and I continued onward through the 800 Foot Crawl to our last station from June, 2017 heading toward the Renegade Survey. While we had hoped to make it to the furthest reaches of the passages out in that direction, we were instead occupied with systematically mopping up short side leads and closing numerous small loops along our route forward. At our deepest point into the cave the main passage terminates in an area of breakdown which we spent a fair amount of time poking around in, without finding any continuation of the passage. But a couple of leads on the right side of the passage before the breakdown area appear to continue into the extensive maze of passage that the original surveyors dubbed the Renegade Survey. We’ll resurvey that area on the next trip in that part of the cave. We added 830 feet of survey. Travel time back to the entrance from the end of our survey is now close to three hours, at a moderate pace. We caught up with the Tri-Trogs near the First Stream and were all out of the cave around midnight. On the surface, everyone enjoyed a campfire and homemade venison stew prepared by Terri’s husband, who spent the day on the surface. Thanks, Bob!
April 13, 2019
Appalachian Cave Conservancy shared space with Walker Mountain Grotto at Abingdon’s April 13 Earth Day event (more on that in a later post, perhaps), and the ACC annual meeting followed at Virginia Highlands Community College. After the meeting, several of us returned to Perkins to continue the resurvey project. Dan Henry and Richard Knapp (keeping book), continued the survey of the lower level canyons beyond the Antlers, along with Steve and Jeanne Bailey. They closed multiple loops, tying back into the upper levels at two points, and came close to the furthest extent of this canyon maze where it rejoins the main route at the Kidney Stone Climb. It looks likely that one more trip will wrap up the survey of those lower levels. They surveyed 725 feet, exiting the cave sometime after 2:00 am.
I went with Janet Manning and Walker Mountain Grotto members Zac Lynn and Brandon Phibbs out to the H-Stone. We started our survey right there at the H-Stone, following a short segment of passage that goes west about 100 feet. We will still need to survey up to, and possibly beyond, the Coffin formation, but we saved that for another day. It should be done as a team of two, using a Disto, and with great care and clean gear. Instead, we dropped down into a lower level directly below the H-Stone. I knew there was some passage down there, and access to a stream that flows below the 1400 Foot Walk, but after an evening of survey, I can see that this area is much more complex and extensive than I imagined. At one prominent junction, passages go in seven different directions (not counting further branches visible in the distance). We closed a couple of loops and surveyed essentially everything lying north and west of the H-Stone, though there are a couple of places that might be worth digging, including in a virgin crawl we accessed by climbing a 10 foot wall of mud. Throughout the evening we remained in a middle level and did not get down to the stream, visible about 30 feet below, and also left numerous other leads heading east and south. The most interesting thing we saw were some sizable, rather deep claw marks in a clay bank. Perhaps an ice age bear or other large mammal was once here, entering by way of a paleo entrance no longer open to the surface? Our survey totaled 482 feet. We exited via the stream passage, reaching the surface just before 3:00 am (to the relief of the spouse of one our party who had not anticipated our late exit).
Current resurvey statistics
Zac and Brandon headed home following our exit. Everyone else spent the night and made their way home in the morning after some much needed rest. All told, in the two days of surveying so far this year we’ve added 3,000 feet, bringing the length of resurveyed passage to 6.25 miles (passing the 10 km mark).
The line plot shows new survey in blue: