“No Heat, No Ticks, No Possums”
The Hardcore Cavers of COG Visit Arkansas

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Trip report: “No Heat, No Ticks, No Possums” : The Hardcore Cavers of COG Visit Arkansas
August 5-7, 2005
COG—Roy ”Real Deal” Diehl, Jon “Born to Be Wild” Woltz, Steve Beleu, The Skillful Ogre; Boston Mountain Grotto (sorry, have first names only)—Clif, David, Gary, Jeremy, Melissa and Tom, Mike, Terry
Location: Buffalo National River
Lynnhouse Cave, “Buffalo National River C54” Cave

When Lead Officer Diehl announced this trip several months ago at a grotto meeting, a great moan and cry went up that it would be too hot, we would end up covered with ticks, and that we would have to eat strange food. Here is what actually happened: it was cooler in Arkansas than it was in The Land of the Okies, it was tick-free, and we didn’t have to eat any possums or squirrels. But only the three of us, the most manly men in COG who snack on danger and dine on death, made the trip.

We traveled there via Tulsa, Siloam Springs, and Springdale, getting there after about five hours of driving. Our campground, “Lost Valley Canoe and Lodging” (www.lostvalleycanoe.com), featured mown tent sites, hot showers, and flush toilets. Getting there early, we had to wander around a bit before our hosts began arriving. So we went down to the river and splashed about. After our hosts arrived, we set up our tents and began to chew the spelunking fat with them, planning our next day of caving together.

When Saturday morning arrived we divided into two groups: some of the Boston Mountain Grotto (BMG) members went off to one cave, and some of them took us to Lynnhouse Cave. This is a limestone cave whose entrance we had to drive halfway up a hill and then hike further up to reach. We had to hand-and-knees crawl through most of it, with occasional standing, stooping, skootching, and stomachial-crawling. Our hosts were used to this cave being a cave filled with dry dirt, but on this day we found it to be mostly wet mud, and our hosts strongly suspected that mud has been washing into and filling up some passages in this cave (although the other group of cavers, who did this cave after finishing their first cave, went into another part of the cave via another entrance that included more walking passage). The length of Lynnhouse Cave that we went through was about 500 feet.

The second cave that we spelunkered through was an unnamed cave known as “Buffalo National River C54 Cave”. I suggested that they name it “Homestead Cave” since it is behind an old homestead and probably served the homesteaders as a refrigerator. But let us back up: after we had finished Lynnhouse Cave, which is not exactly an impressive cave, our hosts noted that there was another cave behind an old dilapidated homestead just up the very bad road we had scraped our two four-wheel drive vehicles over. We were just going to go and look at it, then join the first group of BMG cavers in their first cave that they should still have been in. What we found when we got to the cave is that the homesteaders had poured a small rectangular concrete entrance around the natural cave entrance; at one time they may have had a door attached to it. Roy went into the cave about 10 to15 feet with a flashlight, then came back. Then I went into the cave about 25 to 30 feet, began to see formations, and reported this back to everyone, suggesting that we suit up again to do this cave. My thinking at the time was that this cave would then be something new both for COG and for BMG. We were not disappointed. After an initial narrow stoop walk through a passage with water flowing out of it and down the hillside, we ducked down below a shelf after about 25 feet and entered a cave passage that featured drapery, stalagmites, stalactites, pendants, curtains, rimstone dams, flowstone, and soda straws! About 6/10ths of the passages ahead required hand-and-knees crawling or stomachial crawling; about 4/10ths we could walk through. At one point we broke into two groups of three cavers each to explore two distinct branches of the cave. The group that I was in found a large, well decorated room at the end of a crawl that may or may not end this branch of the cave. Both groups found survey markers at or near the ends of their branches of this cave, although they were not BMG markers and our hosts were unsure whose markers they were. What a cave! It also impressed our BMG hosts.
That night we showered up and waited as appointed BMG Chef Clef prepared a mountain of Cajun gumbo for us. It began raining heavily while he was cooking, but our hosts set up two tarps over their field kitchen tables. We ate so much that we became incapable of movement. Clif cooked so much gumbo that we could have fed all the hungry people in Africa and had leftovers.

Some of our hosts had to leave that Saturday night; those who remained had to leave Sunday morning. We journeyed further east along the river that morning, rented two canoes, and floated down six miles of the Buffalo National River. Then we piled back into the DiehlMobile and drove back across the state line. The entire time that we were in Arkansas a rain front cooled temperatures down on our behalf. If our hosts enjoy visiting our gypsum caves in September, we will attempt to set this up as an annual event between our two grottoes. BMG seems willing to do this. It will become a great trip for the Central Oklahoma Grotto!

• Fauna census: in C54 Cave—two juvenile Long-Tailed Salamanders, various Cave Salamanders; outside—one elk, a flock of turkeys.
• We noted sharks’ teeth in some of the cave ceilings in “BNR C54” Cave.
• The place to eat “The Fried Chicken of God” is in Springdale at “A.J. Fried Chicken”. The restaurant featured photos of President Clinton shaking everyone’s hands.
• Roy drove back home with, at times, his left leg hanging out of the car window.
• Whilst canoeing Roy picked up a snake and dropped it into the boat Jon and I were sharing; he was almost sure that it wasn’t poisonous.
• On Sunday morning we all heard the call of a Yeti in the hills that surround the campground. It was hungry for human flesh.
• Did you know that Jon Woltz drives a scooter? Let him henceforth be known as “Born to be Wild” Woltz.
• Never having canoed before in my life, I slipped on an algae-covered rock in the river and cut my knee open.
• We saw a bunch of fish in the river swimming around.
• Clif wore a chef’s apron that read “Will Cook for Sex.” We hope that he gets a lot of good cooking this year!

Thanks to our hosts, the Boston Mountain Grotto, for being such congenial hosts to us. We hope to be back next year. Hopefully COG’s wussie-pie cavers will join “The Hardcore Cavers of COG” next year.

Who to blame for this trip report: S. Beleu, who must now head for the hills and hide out for a while.

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