Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cleft Cave (Aug. 29, 2014)

View of Cleft cave from afar
Justin and Erica, the young couple that joined me on this ACC club outing: on the approach to the cave entrance

Just inside the cave entrance

The view out the first lookout window after spelunking through rightmost passage (didn't realize there were two windows and initially thought this was the 'lofty lookout').

At first window
One of the main attractions of Cleft cave is 'lofty lookout', a window through the side of the mountain on the far side of the cave (overlooks a fantastic cliff). We backtracked to the main passageway and crawled through a few wet puddles along the way to get back 'on route' to lofty!

At second window, 'lofty lookout' after backtracking to main route

At lofty lookout

To complete the loop we had to do a bit of routefinding and we explored a dead-end that was inhabited by a few pack rats (we initially noticed a musty smell then saw a million droppings, then we actually spotted a few of the varmints). The rats looked a bit like gigantic pikas and were kind of freaky. Erica lead us through a very, very tight squeeze and we completed the loop and passed through the ice caverns on the way back.
Justin spelunking through the ice cavern

Ice crystals on walls

Ice stalagtites growing on slippery floor!

The stream crossings seemed to go faster on the way back

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