Back in November, Dean Coffin from Boy Scout Troop 67 of Wilmington, DE, contacted me about getting Troop 67 on a caving trip. They were looking at Wind Cave on December 15th for the trip. It is a little short notice, but I thought it would be possible to pull off.
I don’t usually take Troops and Crews to Wind Cave for their first caving trip because it does get a lot of local “spelunkers” and vandals and it’s not a good example of a typical Pennsylvania Cave. If you can get past the graffiti and trash it is a fun cave to play in. It has a variety of climbs and squeezes that can challenge most beginners. As a tectonic cave it is a good example of this particular and unique geological classification of cave.
The up side is that it is close enough to Wilmington the group from Troop 67 could cave in the morning and be back for afternoon activities with the rest of the Troop. This meant me getting up early to collect cavers from Dragon Breath Grotto and get to the cave entrance by 9:00 AM. I’m not a morning person, but I was willing to pretend for today.
By 9:00 AM we were suiting up and started walking up the trail to the cave entrance. We were a little behind schedule, but Troop 67 didn’t waste any of the time they were there. While waiting they canvassed the outside area of the cave, in typical Boy Scout style, and picked up a large trash bag full of trash. It’s great when Troops just jump in and take care of a situation that needs to be done.
Getting inside Wind Cave
We talked for a little while we distributed the helmets and lights. The Troop split themselves into two groups. Amos led one group with Damian and Katrina and I led the other with Gretchen. This cave is big enough we can go in at the same time, head into two different directions, and not get in each other’s way for a couple hours. Our group did really well. We did a little climbing and eventually got to the “Basement” of the cave. Gretchen wanted to take the challenge of going through the “Sub Basement” and one of the Scouts took the challenge as well. It is tight and can be confusing on which direction to go, but they did it and came out the other side tired.
We retraced some of our route and explored another section of the cave. Instead of going back to the main entrance we went out one of the other entrances which is more challenging.
Amos, Damian and Katrina’s group was not out yet. But a short time later we heard a voice holler from one of the other entrances. We all gathered there and watched as each one of the newbie cavers struggled and exited the cave.
These guys were great. They worked well together and had a sense of adventure. They took every obstacle we threw at them and turned it into a game. We took more pictures, collected up the helmets and lights and said goodbye to the Troop as they hiked back down the trail to their cars.
Cleaning Up the Cave
Now it was time for some more fun, I mean work. The cave was trashed with bottles, cans and other debris carted in by people and it needed a quick clean up. We went back in and picked up as much of the trash as we could find. While in there we ran into a group of spelunkers. They were not well equipped but they understood and appreciated what we were doing. It was nice to chat with them while we all picked up discarded candles, cans and broken bottles. Amos and Gretchen managed to get down into some of the smaller cracks and pull trash out that looked like it had been in there a while.
When we exited with our full trash bag we noticed the NSS sign that is suppose to be at the main entrance to the cave was missing. Another thing we should to think about fixing in the future. We will be back to clean Wind Cave up again and try to educate folks about the importance of caves and this one in particular.
To see more pictures you can go to the Troop 67 photo album here (Troop 67 pictures.). You can also see my photo album here.
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“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footsteps, kill nothing but time.” – cavers’ creed