Jamaican Caving Notes
Apr 5, 2004
COOL GARDEN CAVE 4
NW Ent: WGS84 - 18 19' 46.2" N, 77 49' 09.9" W
SE Ent: WGS84 - 18 19' 42.1" N, 77 49' 03.4" W
Field notes: R. S. STEWART
Cavers: R. S. Stewart, G. van Rentergem, B. Murray, D. Roeber
Time in: 16:00 EST, Time out: 17:00 EST
THREAT VULNERABILITY: High
(Continued from Cool Garden 3)
Cool Garden 4 was the fourth of four caves visited on this day, after Rudist Rock, Cool Garden 1 and Cool Garden 3. Like the others, it is one of the subject caves of the St James project.
The SE entrance of Cave 4 is located 35 m, bearing 320 true, from the entrance to Cave 3. It seasonally takes water from a gully that runs, at the base of a small cliff, from the entrance of Cave 3, a seasonal rising. The SE entrance of Cool Grd 4 faces south, is about 3 m wide by 4 high, oriented vertically, and can be accessed without scrambling.
This was our second trip into Cave 4, the last visit having been on Aug 19, 2003, when the level of the water table, and the frequent rains, suggested that we not journey too far into the stream-passages that make up this cave. We had gone as far as a T-junction, then about 30 m north, and then made our way back out. The entire time, through the rock above us, we could feel/hear a thunderstorm in progress. Today, we were in the height of the dry season, there were no clouds in the sky, and flooding was not a concern.
We had with us several of the local people, including the man who owns the land that holds several of the Cool Grd cave entrances. Since our last visit, they had seen us on TV during the Hutchinson's Hole job for the JCF, and they were eager to tag along with the "experts" to see what could be seen in these various caves. None of them had ever been any great distance into Cave 4. As it turned out, having this local crew along has resulted in a greater understanding, by the people of the district, of some of the preservation concerns that exist with systems in populated areas.
The SE entrance leads to a stream-passage that soon narrows to about 1 m, about 2.5 high, that after about 40 m joins a larger stream-passage at a T-junction. In this first passage, there was water pooled in places to about 30 cm depth.
The larger passage that we had reached, about 2+ m wide, seems to be the main collector, and the passage that we had entered by, a tributary. We turned northwest, the downstream direction, soon passed our previous farpoint of Aug 19, and carried on in an easy fashion. The water was now slightly deeper and there was a very minor flow. After about 100 m, the ceiling lowered to about 1 m, with the width staying around 2 m, for about 15 m, and then the ceiling again rose to 2+ m. We had the JU map with us, and this spot is indicated as being a duck, another sign that water levels were high during the Bristol expedition in 1967. We continued on for about 100 m more, and then reached the small breakdown chamber that is shown on the JU map as being close to the NW entrance and a dead-end right branch of a fork. A couple of minutes searching around in this section didn't show the exit passage at what we thought was the fork, other than a sumped hole close to the chamber. Our local crew were very disappointed, us having made what was for them a great journey underground to only turn back and return to where we'd started. They were very much into the spirit of caving by this point, and wanted to complete things in a proper way.
Fortunately, a little more searching back along the passage found a tight crawl heading the right way. I squeezed in, went forward a metre or three, and could then see daylight illuminating the passage ahead. I passed this news back to the others, and there was great jubilation all around. Several metres further on, I found a concrete wall blocking the lower two-thirds of an entrance apx 1 m high, and 1.5 wide. A final squeeze through the gap above the wall ensued and I found myself standing at the head of a seasonal stream-bed of some 6 m width. The others soon followed and were amazed to see where they were... they knew the spot well, as a spring where people often get water.
This jaunt served as a wonderful education for our local guests. We had followed a small stream the length of the collector, found garbage that had been rafted in, observed bats near the NW entrance with their dung dropping into the water, and one of our guests had actually had a piss in the stream as we had travelled along, (I learned later). When we had all crawled out of the spring, (a partially dammed stream exit, with a couple of pipes extending through the dam to allow people to fill water jugs), they all expressed the same sentiment, "Man, me never draw water from deh again!". They had seen the garbage, the mud, and guano and realized that it wasn't exactly spring-water. I took the opportunity, as I got the GPS position of the NW entrance, to remark on how people using caves as dumps, or allowing them to get filled with mud because of run-off, has a very direct effect on the water supply for themselves and their neighbours. They could understand this thoroughly now, after having been on the "inside".
We observed, as in Cool Grd 3, many Neoditomyia farri larvae, (predacious web-spinning beasties that inhabit biologically healthy caves). In fact, this was a general occurence the entire expedition, and it could be seasonal. During the Jan-Feb expedition, it had been Eleuths, (frogs), in almost all the caves, and this session they were less often heard.
Roaches were of course present in fair numbers. Garbage was found throughout that is being rafted in during the rainy seasons.
There is something odd about the map published in JU. It does not match the cave in places, although it definitely does in others. Specifically, the entrance is shown as leading into the main collector, with the tributary passage indicated, but not mapped. The orientation of the map, (bearing), is confusing. The NW entrance area is accurate, so I am positive that we were in Cool Grd 4. I am attaching a scan of the map to illustrate the problem. We entered through a smaller passage, to hit a T-junction at a collector that was running at 90 deg, left and right. We turned right and made our way to the spring. We did not see any other side-passages. The only way I can make it work is if we entered by the side-passage shown on the map. We have not yet taken the collector to the left, so we don't know if that leads to another entrance or not. The orientation is also curious. I have very good GPS positions for each end, the SE one confirmed on two visits, the NW taken only once, this time, but a solid 3D Diff WAAS fix. The positions when plotted on the topos look right. But, I have a bearing of 303 deg true from the SE ent to the NW ent. On the JU map, the bearing is 50 deg mag, (51 deg true 1967 mag decl). There is something very wrong here... if one puts the JU map on the topo, it is obvious that the two entrances shown do not plot where the two entrances that we know of actually are. Perhaps if there is a third entrance, that we haven't found yet, then that would explain things. We would have a situation of three entrances, with Bristol having found a different set of 2 than our set of 2. A return vist will be made in June to try to sort this out.
When we returned to the car, unlike last session, everything was secure. This day was, for me, the most successful, productive day of the entire expedition. Give thanks.
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