Caving With Troop 547 8/6/2022
Caving With Troop 547
Welcome to YOUCave.
In May of 2022 I contacted Troop 547 to let them know, since it was post COVID, I was back leading cave exploring trips.
I had taken Troop 547, from North Wales, cave exploring before in August of 2019. We went too Peiper Cave. They wanted something different. There are a lot of options. I was originally thinking of one of the caves over the Pennsylvania border in West Virginia. But, I'm still recovering from a surgery and wanted to stay a little closer to home. OK, there's not much difference between a 3 hour drive and a 2 hour drive. I just thought they should get to experience a different type of cave in PA.
I decided to take them to Carnegie Cave in central PA. I haven't been there in a couple years and was curious how it was doing since the last time I was there. I warned them that it was a little more wet and muddy than the last cave.
Sometimes with Carnegie it gets a little too wet. This makes it difficult to get into the main section. I did have a “Plan B” in case the main passage was summped.
One other challenge with Carnegie is that while we can park our cars in the Township's park parking lot, we were not aloud to change out of our muddy cloths there. We had to change at the cave. This is understandable. It is a public place and we will be tracking mud everywhere we go when we come out of the cave.
We all suited up. Everyone had a helmet, headlamp with batteries, gloves, knee pads, and for those that chose used our coveralls.
We reviewed to Leave No Trace rules and talked about the Cavers' Creed, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.” Scouts live by this so it was second nature to them.
It was hot wearing all that gear for walk to the cave. We just kept thinking about how nice a cool it would be inside of Carnegie Cave.
The walk was a little sketchy. A big storm a few weeks before took down some trees and moved some of the landmarks I was use to seeing. We had to backtrack once to find the, now washed away, path. And the vegetation was very over grown since the last time I was there.
I was first to crawl in the tunnel that leads under Rt. 81 to the cave. The grotto that takes care of the cave had laid down some boards so you're not in the waster and it wasn't so rough on your knees and hands. Everyone followed in line. The kids liked to play with the echo in the tunnel singing and hollering. Just when we had enough of this we were in the cave itself. Feet first down a small passage to an obstacle. You have a choice. Either climb over the left side or crawl under the right side. They both landed in the same place. We were finally standing upright in walking passage.
The youth leaders took their head count. Everyone made it inside.
At this “T” intersection I sent them down one way to explore and told them to come back when they got bored. I went down the other way to check out the sump before we had the whole group down that narrow, twisty passage.
I checked the sump and made it back to the “T” intersection to let them know “Plan A” was still good to go. The sump is a short duck-under about 18 to 20 inches high with water running through it. But today there was only about an inch of water. This made me happy and still challenged the Troop.
The next room is usually almost hip deep on me in water. Today the water was not even overtop my boots.
I turned on my GoPro and found a comfortable place to sit. I pointed to the passages they could go through explaining what they might be able to see. I didn't want to go into too much detail and spoil the excitement of exploration. They went in different directions in their buddy groups to see what they could find. They spent a good 45 minutes playing here and were soon very much covered in mud.
When everyone had explored where they wanted I told them about the next section and off we went to the next room.
This room is like a T intersection as well. Two passages to explore. I gave them an abbreviated description of each and off they went again to explore and see what they could find.
I followed a little behind one group. Their passage was crawly and sometime difficult to find a way that was safe for the caver and the cave decorations. They did wonderful. All the way back and looking in every hole and passage they could find.
I had a chance to sit with a couple of the adults and just relax and listen to the joking and laughing from the Scouts. It took them a while to check out everything. They starting getting tired after about an hour. They had to remember to keep enough energy to get all the way back out again. I let them lead the way out and they only got turned around once. Pretty good for the first time.
Now was the hard part. Everyone is tired and wearing an extra twenty pound on mud on their cloths. We had to get changed, bag up all the muddy cloths, and walk all the back to the cars. At least the weather held for us and the rain never showed. By the time we got back everyone was beat and hungry. We all had something to eat while we packed all the muddy gear back into the cars.
All in all it was a great day with some great Scouts. I'm hoping that maybe they want to try caving again next year. They should have a mess of new Scouts to show off what they are capable of doing.
Check out the video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/g2mw94mVcYk.
If you are curious about how to take your group cave exploring, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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