Jamaican Caving Notes
Coffee River Cave|
May 31, 2006
Team: RS Stewart, E Slack, K John, M Newman
Notes: RS Stewart
[Parks in Peril notes for Coffee River Cave - May 12, 2005.]
This visit to Coffee River Cave was made in assistance to Kimberly John, of The Nature Conservancy, as part of a water quality project. It had been selected as a candidate target because this site is quite easy to access (a ten minute hike from the road), and it is a major rising for waters that enter at an undetermined sink associated with the Hector's River (the location of the sink remains an unknown at this time - it could be one of several).
The day had started in Rock Spring, at Miss Buckle's, where we had stayed the night before. First thing in the morning, we had made a foray into the Cockpit Country, north of Troy, to successfully locate Booth Camp Spring. After that had been a brief stop at the bridge in Troy to get water samples, and then a quick jaunt down the road to Auchtembeddie to visit Coffee River Cave.
There was nothing particularly notable about our visit to Coffee River: We parked, hiked down the main trail, and at what I recalled as the start of the side-trail to the entrance, I had the others wait a minute while I scouted ahead (this being the right turn, and the others soon following when I gave them a shout). Then, we climbed down into the cave, went about 30m, and filled some bottles with water. Soon after, we retraced our route out, and hiked back up the hill to return to the vehicles. The only thing that seemed at all remarkable was that Kimberly, when we were in the cave or just about to leave, asked if we knew of similar sites in the area that were easier to get to. Unfortunately, we don't, but - we consider this cave to be almost "road-side", and about as easy as it gets (compared to a Marta Tick, or Too Far Stream Cave). And it's a very important site in terms of the local hydrology. I realize that she wasn't inquiring with herself, or Minke, in mind (they're both tough girls), but thinking of other field assistants. When Elizabeth and I discussed this later, we were both of the thought that a field assistant who was unable to manage that little hike up and down the hill, without complaining, might not be a suitable person to carry out this kind of work.
Once back at the cars, we headed southbound to get samples downstream of the Coffee River resurgence, this done at the bridge to the south where the river crosses under the road. The exact location of the sample taken by the bridge is 18 12 20.3 N, 77 37 40.7, WGS84, +/- 10m. Interestingly, while Kimberly was getting her water, and I was getting my GPS position, and the others were helping or standing close-by, our activities were briefly interrupted by a large herd of cattle being run down the lane upon which we stood (between the river and a hillside) by several farmers. Most of the team made a dash to the riverside - I was behind my SUV, downstream of the bovines, and just stayed where I was while they trotted by. Of more interest was where the cattle were directed to after they passed us, this being along the B10 toward Balaclava. One couldn't help but think of the many curves, the madman taxi drivers, and a herd of cows running confidently up the centre of the road. However, when we drove along the same route soon after, we didn't see any large, brown, furry corpses, so it seems that all went well.
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