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Follow That Bat Cave

Owner Kay Koger

 


February of 2006 I made a solo reconnaissance of sections of Redmond Creek Sinkhole that I had never investigated. Kay had told me of a cave south of Stream Cave and I wanted to locate that cave. I made two discoveries that day. One was the cave Kay had described, which is the southern most known cave inside the sinkhole. Like Stream Cave it is in the Bangor limestone and has a sizable stream flowing from the entrance. I call it Head of Redmond Cave. The stream from this cave joins Redmond Creek to flow into the insurgence of Redmond Creek Cave. The second significant discovery is a small sinkhole on the west wall of the Redmond sinkhole. At the bottom of the sinkhole I could hear running water. My imagination said “Redmond Creek.”

 

April of 2006 I returned with Dale Andreatta and a new caver. We started the survey of Head of Redmond Cave and then turned our attention to the little sinkhole with hopes of digging through into Redmond Creek Cave. After a little effort that task began to seem hopeless without having heavy equipment. As I stood up and looked up toward Dale, I spotted a bat circling the rim of the sinkhole. The bat just seemed to disappear. I spotted a second bat circling and I hollered to Dale, “Follow that bat.” Dale just looked at me with a confused expression. The bat disappeared. A third bat appeared circling the sinkhole. This time I pointed and said, “Dale follow that bat, see where it goes.” He did. The bat had flown into a very low yet wide passage near the rim of the sinkhole. With a little digging Dale was quickly able to crawl through. With more digging I was able to follow. The passage led to a room in the Bangor limestone, which had a massive waterfall. I quickly ducked through the waterfall and was instantly and completely drenched. I could see that the water was disappearing through the floor but there was too much water to see what was below. We departed.

 

Because of the manner in which we discovered the entrance passage, we named the cave Follow That Bat Cave.

 

Saturday, November 23, 2007 Dale Andreatta wanted to return to the little sinkhole. This time the crew consisted of Dale, Bill Walden, Bruce Warthman, and Aron Schmid. Arriving at the sinkhole Bruce scrambled to bottom, looked around, and exclaimed, “There’s no place to go!” Dale and I laughed and started into the crawlway. I climbed down in the entrance room. No waterfall!!! I could clearly see that the upper part of the room is in the Bangor limestone and that the room breaks through the Hartselle Formation into the Kidder limestone. Root masses hanging from the ceiling and dangling down and across the Hartselle layers of shale and sandstone give a surreal appearance to the room. At the base of the room is an opening large enough for a caver to climb through and down. I was chicken to climb down. So were Dale and Bruce. Aron didn’t hesitate – much! He carefully threaded his way down the roughly 20 feet. He found a short walking passage and a 20 by 40 foot room, which we named the 20 by 40-foot room. After about a 20-minute recon of the cave he returned. We departed. I determined to return soon with a safety line.

 

Saturday, December 1, 2007 Buddy Gibson and I returned to the cave with a safety line, figure eights, and safety ascenders. We rigged the short pit and descended. We quickly found the 20 by 40-foot room and began poking around. I don’t think that we found the walking passage that Aron described but we both found a way through the breakdown and into a breakdown passage. This passage teed into a large canyon. We turned right (south) down the canyon. After walking a few hundred feet we came to a breakdown pile with tree roots. We decided the cave worth surveying so we broke out the survey gear and began surveying back (north). After eight shots we turned our survey down a parallel passage essentially backtracking (going south again). This passage starts as a stoop walk then lowers to hands and knees crawl. We passed a window into the canyon we had surveyed and then the passage began to open up. Shortly we were walking. At this point I decided to check ahead. I could hear running water echoing ahead. The passage teed into a large stream canyon. I literally started running or jogging ahead. The floor is smooth limestone and there is no breakdown. Traveling quickly is easy. After jogging for 15 minutes I came to place where the passage divided into a proliferation of passageways. Buddy caught up with me. We poked around for a few minutes then started back to resume the survey.

 

We surveyed into the stream canyon putting a station up high and marking it with flagging tape. Hopefully it is above maximum flood level. We returned to the point where we had started our survey and surveyed out of the cave. It took us close to an hour to find our way back through the maze of breakdown to the entrance room where our safety line was rigged. I left flagging tape at most survey stations through the most confusing part of the breakdown so we can more quickly find our way through next trip. In all we surveyed just over 1200 feet of virgin cave passage and probably toured a total of 3000 feet of virgin cave passage. Most of this is large and easy walking passage. Frankly I was shocked. I expected to find a maze of crawlways in this area. Once home I plugged the survey data into Compass and then plotted it out Sunday. I did an overlay on the geologic map and was surprised to see that the cave goes further south than expected.

 

As of New Years Day 2008 we have surveyed 3275.4 feet (0.62 miles) inside this cave. We have not yet found a route that we can follow going north toward Redmond Creek Cave. I expect this will take a concentrated effort; but, there is no doubt in my mind that Follow That Bat Cave connects with Redmond Creek Cave. Look for photos in the January 2008 COG Squeaks.

 

Bill Walden
January 2, 2008




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Last Updated: February 15, 2015