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Eagle Cave

I mentioned a few days ago that Eleanor and I used to go caving often. In our travels over the past year, we’ve visited numerous public and commercial caves, including Lehman Cave in Great Basin National Park, Kartchner Caverns, Mammoth Cave, Lava River Cave, and Oregon Caves National Monument.

Today, I joined my brother and a friend on a day-long caving expedition to the first “wild cave” I’ve visited in at least three years: Eagle Cave, atop Chimney Mountain in the Adirondacks of New York. Eagle Cave is made of talus (fallen stone), like the small one we visited in Pinnacles National Monument last December.

The cave is tricky to navigate, like most talus caves. The collapse of rocks often creates maze-like passages which look very similar. We had maps from previous cavers, which helped a lot. To traverse the cave, you first need to drive way out in the Adirondacks (2.5 hours for us), and then climb Chimney Mountain, which is about a 1-mile hike, half of which is steep.

Parking location for Chimney Mountain. (You need Google Earth to view this.)

Then in the cave, you need a map, water, snacks, three sources of light, kneepads, warm clothes, and a helmet. Gloves are a big plus. There’s a lot of scrambling over wet and cold rocks involved. To get into the lower levels of the cave, you also need the ability to descend and climb a 12-foot dropoff. This sorts out the unprepared, since there’s only one way down and one back up!

The cave has at least five levels, all of which we explored. The second level has a Bat Room where we saw many Little Brown Bats sleeping. The third level is very confusing without a map, and the fifth level is just plain maze-like. As late as August you can find ice in the lower levels. We were in there exploring for over three hours! It was great fun, even with the 12-foot free rope climb at the end.

If you want to try this sort of caving, go with someone who knows what they are doing. The best-prepared people tend to be members of the National Speleological Society. People who adhere to the principles of that organization will know the risks of caving, know the equipment to bring, appreciate the need to protect the cave (taking out trash and not disturbing the bats), and hopefully have the sense to avoid getting into dangerous situations.

Tomorrow we need to do penance at our storage unit again, and then hopefully we can reward ourselves with some time on the boat.

2 Responses to “Eagle Cave”

  1. John Irwin Says:

    Next time you are in Texas, stop by Caverns of Sonora, just off I-10 west of Sonora, TX. A past President of the Speological Soceity said that he had visited cave all over the world and Sonora was the most beautiful.

    It isn’t a wild cave, but it is very personal with rare formations within arms reach. They take only small tour groups to insure that nothing is touched.

    They have a small RV park at the cave that we have stayed at (W/E). It is usually almost empty. This has to be one of the most unappreciated places anywhere.

  2. charles spiher Says:

    Your caving is interesting, as was Professor Robert Winston’s tracking the journey of “Lucy” the 3 million year old cave girl, but I think maybe you’re spending too much time in the Safari.

    4th and 5th levels, ice, slime, bats, and rope ladders ? Reading your account reminded me of the Geico insurance commercial where the announcer admonishes the audience, ‘it’s so simple, even a caveman can do it.’

    The next time your gourmet, Eleanor, asks for a dinner suggestion, tell her you’d like the roast duck with mango salsa. As for me, I don’t have much of an appetite.

    Dr. C.

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