Jamaican Caving Notes
Aug 26, 2002
Field Notes: R. S. Stewart
BAD HOLE CAVE, Cockpit Country, Windsor District, Jamaica
Cavers: R. S. Stewart, M. Taylor, Salla
BAD HOLE is a rising. It's impressive in two ways: Firstly, it’s big for a rising. Secondly, it is the source of a substantial seasonal river that rises out of a chamber cave, fills a large basin, then a river channel, flows for a distance of only a few hundred metres, and then disappears into a sinkhole near the Troy Trail. All of this takes place at an elevation higher than Windsor, (165m versus 95). (The sink that swallows it is the one in the June notes; I’d had the pleasure of seeing it in action two months before). The proximity of this rising, and watercourse, to the Flood Exit Cave found in Bamboo Bottom, not far from the entrance to Windsor Cave, is a perfect example of the remarkable hydrology of the Cockpit Karst. The difference in elevation of these two risings is of no great amount yet they appear to be separate systems on the surface. The Bamboo Bottom entrance to the Windsor Caves, that we've known so well during the dry season, was in June flooded in the northern area and we couldn't get to it. It is common opinion that the water rises in Bamboo Bottom. It certainly enters from the Flood Exit as well.
We couldn't find the exit for the water that was pooled in Bamboo Bottom in June, due to the entire area being underwater, but the topography suggests that the high River Head, the Windsor resurgence, and Bamboo Bottom, are being fed by more than just the trans-cockpit flow from Rock Spring at this time of year. Locally gathered water, especially to the SW, seems to be pumping up the phreatic zone to a point where seasonal mechanically eroded underground passages shift the water generally downhill, to the north, with various siphoned detours on the way. Bamboo Bottom seems to be a reservoir en route. The upper rising of the River Head and the Windsor Resurgence, although separated by a km appear to be two resurgences of a common, elevated, seasonal phreatic zone.
The Flood Exit source, unless Sean Chenoweth has an idea, is a mystery. It issues from the Windsor Mtn on the "downhill side" of Bamboo Bottom. Very little work has been done in this area outside of the dry season. We've been fortunate to see it during a time of particularly high rainfall.
We'd worked our way around to Bad Hole by way of the Troy Trail, and the top of the Peru Mtn Road. Salla had looked into this hole from the top many times but had never gone in. As soon as we’d tied a rope and tossed it down the slope, he grabbed it and headed off. I got the impression he’d wanted to do that for years.
The way down is just a bushed up slope; the rope makes it easier but one could scramble it no problem. The cave itself is an open chamber with a large entrance, about 50% of the distance that the cave extends into the hill. The floor is one long slope at a pitch of about 25 deg. At the very bottom there was a small pool of water left, a remnant of the June activity. I believe it indicated the top of the local phreatic zone. The floor is a sand/clay mix, similar to other hydrologically active caves that are risings rather than sinks, (e.g. Duppy Cave).
We hauled ourselves out, and after a session of Malibu climbing a breadfruit tree that grew nearby, and poking a large fruit down with a long stick, we hiked the riverside back to the Troy Trail and then made quick time back to Windsor.
We walked about 15 km in total, from Windsor to Devil's Staircase, back around the top of the Peru Mtn road, then Bad Hole to the Troy - Windsor Trail.
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