|21 APRIL 2004
WEDNESDAY CLUB TRIP REPORT
by JOEL JACOBS
At 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 Harry Sowers, Ted Sargent, Sara Goode, Matt Saltzer, Doug Bischoff, Andy Leh, Ted Nichols, Dan Bell-Jacobs and Joel Jacobs gathered on Jacobs Ridge. We put all our gear into 3 cars for the 40-minute trip to Baker’s Caverns, located a few miles south of Williamson, Pa. on State Route 995.
Mr. Dean Myers, the owner, was waiting for us with two huge battery powered torches. Most of us chose to wear our caving helmets with street clothes for the walkthrough. After asking us to sign a release form, Dean opened the gate for us, which is located under the porch of the house built above the original entrance, and we descended a flight of cement steps onto the cool, paved floor below.
The caverns consist of two nearly parallel hallways and a connecting passage. It is liberally decorated with a plethora of speleothems of every description. The size of some of the configurations is quite impressive and makes it easy to understand why the cave was commercialized at one time.
It is evident where cave passages were expanded to make it easier for the paying customers to navigate. We were told that the biggest room in the cave had been used as a wedding chapel on occasion. It did appear chapel-like with a high domed ceiling and varied stone draperies.
The smooth walkways and concrete work are still in excellent condition considering the fact that the cave has been closed for fifty years. Corroding lamp fixtures dot the strings of ancient wire and though the iron railings are rusty they are still in remarkably good condition.
In half a century only a few places had degraded from the clean state of an amusement by accumulating a coating of slick mud. The cavers were impressed by the present hydrological dynamism, which has created new and pristine growth both on, and in proximity to, the original picturesque formations. One named shape, The Rhinoceros, a very impressive shelf covered with flowstone, seemed to defy the laws of gravity as it gaped at us from above.
There was very little white in the cave, most of the lithic evolution occurring with mineral rich waters. A few splotches of black magnesium were evident on the walls.
Mr. Myers was very patient and allowed us the time to take many pictures, both of the pretties and the people. This was a well-recorded trip.
When we were done with our tour, we thanked our host, who would accept no remuneration, got into our vehicles and motored south a few tenths of a mile to the next T intersection where we parked for our exploration of the P caves.
We donned our caving outfits and crossed the two-lane blacktop. The P caves, and a few not named with a P, like Buchanan, and Woodchuck, all lie within a succession zone filled with cedars and brush. We spread out and went about the task of searching for a hole to enter. Matt was our guide and recognized the entrance to Persistence.
Dan went in first and five of us, except for Harry, who was nursing a wrenched back, followed. Matt went off to find Ted S. and they descended the Platter entrance and met up with us inside the cave.
We investigated many crawlways and narrow tubes and covered a lot of the cave. There were very few places where one could stand erect. Matt scaled a slope to look for leads, but other than that there was almost no exposure. One circuitous route up a fissure and down a tortuous squeeze stymied all of us except for Sara.
There are numerous good things to see in this aptly named cavern. Stalactites and stalagmites, columns with more than one connection to the ceiling, flow stone, soda straws, cave pop corn, miniature helictites, and in one hidden spot an oddity that resembled fox tooth coral.
Most of the formations were colored similarly to the ones we observed in Baker’s, but here and there were spots of white and orange. One unusual, hanging shape resembled an elk horn. The cavers took pains to avoid damage to any of the formations, talking each other through, where it was necessary to be careful not to break anything.
We crossed the connection known as Hartman’s Handshake and ventured into the Platter section. More pictures were taken. Matt, Doug and Andy spent a good ten minutes back lighting a fold of bacon rind and produced a beautiful, digital photograph. The exit was up an eighteen foot high shaft that required more chimneying work than this reporter has experienced in a long time.
When we got out, we found Harry waiting for us. He reported that he had located at least six openings in the nearby area that could be explored.
We drove back to Jacobs Ridge for a lunch of burgers, salads, dips, chips, pretzels, cookies, brownies, cigars and beer. It was another, memorable Wednesday.
The next meeting of the WedClub will be on May 19th.