Maroon Town

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Aug 23, 2003

AUGUST 23 PIT


Position: 18 16' 41.4" N, 77 42' 42.3" W

Field notes: R. S. STEWART

Cavers: R. S. Stewart, W. Stephenson

Continued from Bonafide Cave.

After our completion of the hike out from Bonafide Cave to where we had parked the car, we once again all piled in, Walton, Malibu, Tumpa, and myself, and began the slow difficult drive back to Quick Step. The time was now mid-afternoon and Tumpa was reminding us that Joanne had food waiting for us. Nevertheless, I very much wanted to achieve something else this day and so asked Walton to show me some holes that he had mentioned were down in the valley to the east of the road, across from the cockpit that contains Minocal's Glory Hole. There was nothing listed in the Register for this locale.

We parked at the same place we had for Minocal's, and then Walton and I hiked down into the valley while Martel and Tumpa stayed at the car. Within twenty minutes we had reached a wide, deep pit at the bottom of a small cockpit. The morphology suggested that it was a very old collapse feature rather than a true Jamaican sinkhole. The shape of the pit is long on a north-south axis with a width of about 20% of the length. By peering from a stance on the southern end, I could see a bottom about 15 metres down with formations low on the walls. In hopes that this pit might lead to a still existing cave, I began to rig things for a descent.

When the rope was in, and I'd satisfied myself that there were no sharp edges that would cut the line, I got on rap and headed down. At the bottom, measured at 17 m, (57 ft), I got off-rope and had a look around. The pit is about 20 metres long by 3 - 6 wide. It is vertically walled and can only be successfully entered by vertigear; there is no way to scramble in and out. The floor is in places bouldered and there is evidence of choked downward shafts in the south end. The walls are in places undercut but the entire pit is illuminated during the daytime. There did not seem to be any occupation of the pit by bats, not even Artibeus. I suspect that the formation of the pit was by a collapse into a breakdown cave that had formed at the bottom of the cockpit. The material that collapsed in has to a great degree been dissolved and washed into the choked shafts. This pit was possibly an actual cave thousands of years ago but is long past its "best-before date".

Once we'd measured the vertical, by having Walton lower one end of the tape from where I had begun my descent, I rigged in the ascenders and made my way up without incident.

This pit is notable enough that I am entering it in the Register, (it requires rope work to enter and was perhaps once a cave), but it is not so interesting that it should receive a proper name. Thusly, I am assigning it the designation, "Aug 23 Pit". A GPS position was taken and subsequently plotted on the topos to show a good match with the topography. It was somewhat difficult getting a good fix at the pit due to surrounding hills and canopy so the position was non-WAAS. The accuracy may be considered to be +/- 15 metres.

This was our last cave/sinkhole visited this day, and we now returned to Joanne's in Quick Step to have the meal that she had prepared for us, to Tumpa's great relief, and after this we hit the road for the long drive back to Windsor.

Several observations should be made before I close this account. As noted, Walton had understood and agreed that we had no money to give him, and that he was along only as a guest and as a possible future member of the JCO, (we had no real need of him with us this day, we knew where we were going, and in fact probably would have found Stephenson's Cave if we hadn't been misinformed by him). Nevertheless, the inevitable happened and he tried to rush me for money just before we left. I calmly re-stated the terms of the agreement, but to show my goodwill, gave him 200 Ja$ that I happened to have in my pocket telling him, "Sorry, man, so it goes... we're short on funding ourselves. Here's something to buy a few beers with though." The 200 J$, about 4 US$, would almost cover 3 Red Stripe. The look on his face as he took the 200 was one of utter disbelief. He looked at the 200, looked at me, looked at the 200 again, and as he was doing this, I climbed behind the wheel of the car and we headed out. As I drove off my feelings were split between amusement at the look on his face and disappointment at him having rushed me despite it having been made abundantly clear the night before that there was no money involved. I can't even think in terms of recommending him as a guide after having seen him in action at Bonafide Cave; he could get someone killed. Rather than focussing on dollars from us, he should have concentrated on learning our techniques and then there might have been something down the road for him from visiting cavers that I would have sent his way. If he had been able to ignore the colour of my skin, he would have eventually done much better than rushing one, "Whitie", for a few dollars. Everything I had told him about our internet presence, what we were trying to accomplish as an organization, and the fact that we need trustworthy members of the crew in various districts of the island, including Quick Step, was ignored in the pursuit of immediate gain. So it goes.

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