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Collected Notes for Deeside Roaring River Cave

Deeside Cave

May 30, 2006, 9:30-14:00 EST


District: Deeside

Parish: Trelawny

WGS84 L/L: 18 23 19.0; 77 44 50.7 W


JAD69: 170908 E, 192883 N

JAD2001: 671018 E, 693172 N

Altitude: 130m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- 10m horizontal; +/- 15m vertical

Type: Complex

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: 37m

Length: 335m

Explorers: Bristol - 1967

Survey: Bristol - 1967

JU Ref: Text - pg 148; Map - 148


Entrance size: ~3m W x ~2m H

Entrance aspect: 20

Vegetation in general locale: Bush/farm

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor/massive

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Stals, flowstone, helictites

Palaeo resources: None

Archaeo resources: None

Hydrology: Wet

Siltation: Low

Sink: N/A

Rising: Active

Stream passage with surface activity: Strong flow

Stream passage without surface activity: N/A

Dark zone: >99%.

Climate: Cool, humid.

Bats: <500

Bat guano: Some

Guano mining: None

Guano condition: Fresh/fluffy

Eleutherodactylus cundalli: Many (at far end)

Neoditomyia farri: Undetermined

Amblypygids: Undetermined

Periplaneta americana: Some

Cave crickets: Some

Sesarma: Undetermined

Other species: Generally, cave-adapted species do not seem to be plentiful here, although they are present (of note: a species of mite, very small, red in colour, in many numbers has been seen in the past). Bat roosting space is somewhat compromised by constrictions in the passage size in the outer parts of the cave, and although much roosting space is available in the "Canyon" area, it does not support the numbers that might be expected. Fungal gnats are not plentiful, with this lack of prey species resulting in fewer predators, such as spiders. We have noted in the past during dry-season visits that the cave is rather warm and dry, especially in the Canyon. This is perhaps caused by the lack of forest cover above. There is not a great amount of rock between the Canyon and the surface, and the land above is mostly covered with scrub, and thin soil. There is no effective shading during the day, and the surface stone becomes very hot. There is a possibility that land-use practices above the cave have resulted in a change in the pre-colonial ambient temperature and humidity, this causing a resultant change in the cave biota. The area of the "River Pit", where there is a constant flow of water, is separated by a tight constriction from the Canyon and the outer parts of the cave, and there does not seem to be much cooling/humidifying coming from this source. However, beyond the River Pit, the cave continues for some distance further, with conditions quite different from the rest of the cave. At the end of this, a low passage leads to the surface, but it is almost completely blocked by stone and dirt (to the point where a human cannot pass through). Water does enter here, rafting in snail shells, and there is an abundance of E. cundalli (frogs that breed in caves but forage outside), showing that at least these critters can get in and out - but bats do not seem to be able to do so, and there is no/little guano input to the area. We have not spent a great amount of time here, though, and this part of the cave could prove to be the most biologically interesting.

Visitation: Occasional - local.

Speleothem damage: None

Graffiti: Some

Garbage: Some (entrance area)

Ownership: Private

Protection: None


Vulnerability: Medium. The batroost here is small, so this is not a great factor. However, the difficulty of access (12m vertical) has allowed this cave to retain fine speleothems in the lower sections. A degree of protection is warranted, although occasional visitation should be safe if conducted in a very responsible manner.


Deeside Cave
May 30, 2006
Team: RS Stewart, Bob Morris, Dash Morris.
Notes: RS Stewart

This would be my first cave of the June 2006 expedition. I had arrived in Jamaica the evening before, and today, after having not had enough sleep for three nights in a row (last-minute rush, airplanes, chatting at Miss Lilly's on the way in), I would have to hit the ground running (or crawling, as it were). This situation wasn't unusual (in fact, moreso the way it usually goes), but the first few days of the session were particularly hectic this time.

On the first two days of this session (May 30/31), we would assist Kimberly John in her water sampling project, this being done in a pro bono way. We had been involved with her funding agency, The Nature Conservancy, ourselves, the previous year, and so we were willing to spare a couple of days to help-out. Also, we had an interest in learning a little about the techniques involved in her project. The work required for us to do this was minimal, as they had no need to explore their target sites the way we would, but instead just get to the water to fill some bottles, and then get back out. In the case of Deeside, because there is a rising issuing from the cave right on the roadside, they didn't even have to enter it. Our greatest challenge would be Booth Spring, slated for the next day, a site that we had not visited before (where Elizabeth would save the day by finding the track to it).

Not long before the start of the expedition, I had been contacted by Bob Morris, a writer for National Geographic Traveler, regarding the writing of an article on caving in Jamaica for tourists. This day, May 30, was the only one available when our schedules overlapped; on May 31, he would be outbound to Florida. Fortunately, both of the targets planned for Kimberly's project on May 30, Deeside and Printed Circuit, were suitable for adventurous tourists, so we had hopes of taking care of two entirely different sets of objectives. With the help of Elizabeth Slack, our loyal and feisty Peace Corps girl, we actually managed to pull this off. It might not have been accomplished in a perfect manner, but it all got done and there were no casualties.

The entire crew met at Miss Lilly's in Coxheath on the evening of May 29, to be in place for May 30. Kimberly John and Minke Newman, along with an associate of theirs, had brought Elizabeth across from the east end of the island. Bob Morris and his son, Dash, had come from Negril. I had come from Alex's Car Rental, en route from the airport in MoBay, behind the wheel of a Grand Vitara. I was the last to reach Coxheath, and when I rolled in, I had to immediately change from international-travel mode, to head-of-the-JCO mode. Mindful of my duties, I tried to be on my best behaviour, and be professional (which I am, but do so better when I haven't just taken a plane from Babylon), and things went well enough (or so I like to believe). Bob and his son seemed cool, Kimberly was Kimberly, and it was nice to see Elizabeth again. Of course, my time at Miss Lilly's had to be kept short, so that we could head down the road to Windsor and get some sleep for the next day. Accordingly, and in a thoroughly professionally manner, I tore myself out of there earlier than I would have liked (the professional manner being that I did it, rather than the way in which I left). The various troops climbed into the various cars (one van, two SUV's), and rolled onwards to the Last Resort.

We were soon in Windsor, and after sleeping arrangements had been taken care of, Bob and I chatted on the porch for a little while. I tried to get across some idea of what the JCO is trying to do (preserve caves, carry out valuable research, do some wicked caving in the process, and get enough funding to carry it all on), while we finished a last couple of beers that we'd brought with us. I don't know how well I communicated all of this, but even if it was poorly done, I hope that the honesty of our aim was apparent. At any rate, relatively early (before midnight), this was wound-up and the last of us were off to bed, to rest up for the first day of the June 2006 expedition.

The day began early, and well. Now that there is only one rooster at the Last Resort (a fine, old, white fowl that is intelligent enough to understand when it is told to "Move down the rud wit dat, man!", to actually do so), mornings are a pleasant waking-up to the breeping of Whistling Frogs, initiated by the occasional crow of the aforementioned bird. This is usually just before sunrise, which is the best time to get up in the Cockpit Country.

The various people who would comprise today's two crews were all awake, and having coffee or breakfast, by about 7:00 AM. I'd gotten up somewhat earlier than the others (6:00 AM), as I had to not only have coffee, but sort out gear for the next few days; we would not be back at Windsor until Thursday night. As it turned out, I managed to get everything into my SUV that we would need, except for one ascender out of the six required. At Deeside, this would cause Bob, Dash, and I, to have to share, with one lowered down the pitch by the first asender for the use of the second. Wha' fi do... this is the kind of thing that happens when there is little time on the first day.

The plan for the day was that we would all hit Deeside first, with Elizabeth attending to the TNC crew (Kimberly, Minke, and Aisha), while I attended to the National Geographic Traveler crew (Bob and Dash). Elizabeth and company would take care of the sampling by the roadside rising, while I would take Bob and Dash into the actual cave. Eliz and the TNC people would complete their task very quickly, to then head for Rock Spring, and Printed Circuit Cave. Meanwhile, I would guide Bob and Dash as far as the River Pit, in Deeside, get them back out, and we would then make the drive to catch up with the others at Rock Spring. So, with this plan in hand (one we believed to have a very good chance of being successfull), we were on the road soon after 8:00 AM, heading off to satisfy our various personal agendas.

We made our journey in three vehicles (Bob and Dash in one, Eliz and TNC in another, and myself alone), with me leading the way. We took the backroad short-cut, via Sherwood Content, Friendship, and Wakefield, and the drive went well (no mufflers ripped-off, goats hit, or madman taxi drivers collided with). By about 9:30, we were at Deeside.

I stopped at the rising only long enough to get a GPS position for Kimberly, and then Bob, Dash, and I headed toward the cave entrance. A short, steep, track of loose soil leads up the hillside to the southeast of the rising, with this little hike surprisingly difficult, especially for those who have not done it before. There is a great tendency to slide back down, unless rocks and trees on the righthand side are grabbed to steady oneself in the worst parts. Nevertheless, the three of us were soon past this, and after making a jaunt across the hill to the west, were climbing into the entrance chamber. A short section of passage leads into the hill from this point, until a crawl is reached at a constriction; beyond this lies the main part of the cave. This squeeze is about 50cm wide and high, but only the same in length, and on the other side the passage immediately opens up to a couple of metres wide and about three high. I went through first, thereby demonstrating that it is indeed possible to do so, and was then followed by Bob and Dash. Now able to again stand upright, and walk rather than slide on our bellies, we covered the remaining 15m that lay beyond to reach the drop into the lower sections. Now would come untangling, tieing, and tossing of ropes, donning of harnesses, and Bob and Dash's first session of Single Rope Technique.

As usual, the sorting out of the ropes took a little while - they are regularly coiled back up after use by others in a manner that I am not fond of, and they cannot easily be uncoiled without much tangling. However, things were eventually taken care of, and now would come the harnesses. These seemed to have been twisted around by the last occupants, and it took me some minutes to figure out what was going on, and how to get them on my two guests. It was a bit of an IQ test, involving rotating the leg-loops and waist-band inside out, and at this point I wished that I'd had more than six hours of sleep the night before. At any rate, after a little while struggling with this, I had Bob and Dash in them, and began to give them their first lesson in rappeling. They both seemed to grasp the concept quickly, and I would keep them on belay with a second rope when they went down, so I soon had them put theory into practice by sending them on their way down. I can't recall who went first, but I had to go last, of course, to be sure that both of the guests had correctly clipped in with the descender (not wanting casualties on the very first day of the session). Accordingly, they slid into the hole on rappel, one after the other, with an "Off-rope!" between. I kept both of them on a little tension with the belay, but not so much that they weren't actually rappelling (i.e. I didn't lower them into the hole). Despite a degree of nervousness exhibited by both, they did fine, and before too long I had rapped in to join them. Now would come our journey through the Scree Chamber, and the Canyon, to reach the River Pit.

The route from the bottom of the entry pitch to the River Pit is straightfoward and fairly easy. It begins at the bottom of the rope in a high chamber of moderate width, the Stalactite Pit, at the end of which there is a low crawl under stals, with the route not immediately apparent (we have left several flags here). Past the stals, there is small chamber made up of a t-junction, with the left branch choking in boulders after 10m, and the right one leading up a scree slope to reach a narrow gap into the Canyon. The Canyon is 10-15m wide, and a similar amount high, and extends westward for about 100m, over a floor of boulders of various sizes. Toward the end, passing under a large boulder on the left side takes one into the Hanging Gardens Chamber (this is essentially part of the same passage as the Canyon, but is separated by boulders and stals). In the left-rear corner (SW), a corkscrew down through stals leads into the River Pit, with arrival at a high bouldery ledge overlooking the pit below. Here, the waters that eventually rise at the roadside pass through the cave, 15m below. In rainy times, the water is high, and covers the ingress and egress points, resulting in the flow being quiet, and unheard, as it passes below the surface of the risen pool. In dry times, the sound of the stream flowing through an only partially-flooded passage causes an impressive roar from the depths below. By moving carefully around the lefthand side of the ledge, and climbing over boulders, one can leave the pit behind and continue on in a passage running at about the same level as the Canyon. After about 50m, a final chamber is reached, with a low, partially-choked passage that extends from the righthand side to apparently reach the surface (evidenced by rafted snail shells, tree roots, and many of the cave frog E. cundalli, which must forage outside of caves at night). Today, we would only go as far as the ledge in the River Pit, and then turn back.

Bob and Dash seemed to enjoy the trip through the Canyon, noting the fine formations that are found en route [1]. The squeeze through the corkscrew into the Pit didn't bother them overly much, just the amount that would be expected by someone who had never done such a thing before, and we were now on the ledge above the River Pit. The flow below us could be heard well, although not terrifically loud [2]. After taking 10 or 15 minutes to enjoy the sights and sounds, we began to make our way out. I suggested that Dash, as he was no longer a novice caver, lead the way. He was able to find the route back out, no problem, and I let him carry on until we were at the Scree chamber, where the difficult to find crawl leads outward to the Hanging Gardens. Once we were through this, we were back at the ropes, and ready to begin Bob and Dash's first lesson in ascending a rope.

The entry pitch at Deeside is perhaps not the best one to use for teaching vertical techniques; the wall has several boulders sticking out, and a couple of overhangy bits. If you are experienced in ascending a rope over such ground, it is not a problem, and the 10m vertical can be done in a couple of minutes. However, once again, I would watch people with no experience struggle greatly on this little pitch. Part of the problem on this day was that there was only one JCO crew, me. I couldn't go first to demonstrate how to get past the boulders, because I had to be at the bottom to get both of the guests on rope. Normally, in a situation such as this, we would have two of our crew: one to go first, demonstrate, and be at the top to assist, and a second at the bottom to get people on the rope. Compounding this was the fact that we were one ascender short, this not discovered until we were at the bottom of the rope, with this necessitating the lowering of an ascender by the first person up (this resulted in the rope having slack that we at the bottom were not immediately aware of when the next caver attempted to head-up, with us then switching to the belay line, which I had tied-off before I came down). Consequently, it was over an hour until the last of us had reached the top of the rope. Bob described it afterwards in an email as a "battering and humbling" experience, but in truth, both him and Dash did fine considering that this was their very first attempt at such a thing, with no lessons having been carried out on shorter, simpler pitches beforehand.

With all of us up the pitch, ropes were hauled out, and coiled, and the three of us made our way out of the last part of the cave. The steep slope back down to the road caused some damage to at least one of my guests, after an attempt to slide down it, but nothing too serious (I really should have talked them down that slope, and not left it to their own decisions on the method). Now, we were back at the road, and back at the cars, and stowing gear. Unfortunately, there was not much time for me to chat about the visit, as it was 2:00 PM and I was running quite late. Ahead of me, I had a long drive to Rock Spring, to catch up to Elizabeth and the others. Bob and Dash had their own vehicle, and were quite sure they could find their back to Montego Bay. So, after shaking hands, checking to see if I had all the gear, and receiving some extra batteries that Bob had (put to good use later in the session), I was on my way.

[1] The depth of rock above this cave, especially over the Canyon, is not great. It seems that this a factor in the notable development of the formations - much of the rain that falls above the cave percolates through, by way of fine fissures that extend from surface to passage. Along, and under, these, many stals have formed, in places forming curtains. A comparable cave is Good Hope Cave, in Rock Spring, which has also developed not far under the top of a hill.

[2] At the time of our visit, May 30, during many years, the River Pit would have already backed up high enough that we would hear no flow, but in 2006, conditions had been fairly dry for the preceding month. However, one could hear that there was not a lot of free passage left in the extensions to the bottom of the Pit - it was certainly quieter than in a normal March visit, when water levels would be at the lowest, and the sound of the flow greater as it passed over steps downward and outward.

June 12, 2004


Field notes: R. S. STEWART

Cavers: R. S. Stewart, I. C. Conolley, M. Bellinger, M. Peterson, C. Timmons, R. Stirling

Time in: 13:00 EST, Time out: 17:00 EST


This day, a Saturday, found us at Deeside Cave with our usual large weekend crew. Mark and Ivor had arrived from Kingston the night before with two new Peace Corps volunteers and we'd decided to stay fairly close to home by visiting Deeside and Duppy. Deeside would also serve as a bit of a training run for the verticals of the following day, when we would be at Volcano Hole. Although the drop distance wasn't comparable, it would at least get everyone on a rope again.

Several hours had been spent in the morning at the Last Resort giving a lesson to our two new volunteers, so we didn't actually arrive at the first target, Deeside, until past noon. This wasn't a concern, because the entrance is quite close to the road and we had rigged the drop several times before. Fifteen minutes after we'd parked, we were in the cave, through the first squeeze, and were tying the rope to the usual large boulder above the drop.

Unfortunately, because it was Saturday noon, and the road-side resurgence from the cave had a number of people bathing and doing laundry, we managed to pick-up several "guests" on our way to the entrance. As things turned out, this wasn't a problem, but it of course neccesitated having one of the crew stay at the top of the drop to ensure that our rope stayed in the cave. Ivor and Rona volunteered for this; Mark, Melissa, Cory, and I, would head down.

Mark Bellinger is our Peace Corps liaison, and is superb at vertical work, so he'd been put in charge of safe-guarding our two PC guests both up and down. Melissa was an accomplished climber, and fine with descent, but was very rusty on ascent. Cory, as far as I can remember, had no experience other than her lesson on a line hung from the porch at Ivor's that morning. I rapped down first, demonstrating and giving them a few tips, and then Mark checked harnesess and descenders at the top, and coached, while Melissa and Cory came down. As expected, they had no problems. All four of us were soon at the bottom.

I was the guide on this trek, being the only one of the four who had been here before, so I led the way through the little low stal curtain at the west end of the drop-chamber, into the talus chamber, then up through the narrow gap high on the north, and into the Canyon. Our new volunteers were very careful, as I'd asked, to not use delicate formations as handholds, or kick off others while using them for footholds. The four of us moved steadily forward, causing the least disturbance possible to the cave. Before too long, we were at the far end of the Canyon chambers and had reached the small corkscrew that would take us into the River Pit.

The River Pit is a fascinating thing; during dry times, the river is low, flowing through, and only partially filling, a passage that the pit drops into. One hears the roar of the water that crashes through the passage from well back in the Canyon. During the rainy-season, like now, the current into the pit is so great that the road-side resurgence cannot handle it all, and as a result it backs up into the River Pit, the Pit acting like a giant stand-pipe, and one hears no sound of water crashing in the submerged passage that the Pit drops into. Thusly, when it is dry-times, the river is loud; when it is wet-times, the river is quiet. Now, June, with the waters high, the noise of the flooded River Pit was reduced to a little trickle from the depths.

Even though I'd been in this cave several times before, I had yet to to reach the furthest known section, past the Pit. Accomplishing this was a high priority for me today. I suspected that there might be more very tight squeezes ahead, so I suggested to Melissa and Cory that they stay on the ledge above the Pit while Mark and I explored further. This was fine with them, since they were quite comfortable and were having a little snack. Anticipating crawls ahead, I left my pack with the ladies on the ledge, and Mark and I began to work our way around the side of the Pit to reach the section beyond.

The route beyond the ledge goes over boulders on the left side of the Pit. Towards the far side, one sees two ways on: through a low gap, between close-set stals, just above the floor, or over a boulder on the right hand-side. One must take the scramble over the boulder, despite the drop into the Pit close on the right. Do it carefully, lest you fall. Now, to the SW, new chambers begin.

A series of medium-sized chambers, well-decorated with stals, lies to the west of the river Pit. A journey through these, over breakdown boulders, takes one into a final medium-sized chamber where Eleuth's, (frogs), present in good numbers, chirp from their rocky perches; where many snail shells are found rafted from the surface; and great tree roots stretch across the floor. There is no doubt: at this point the outside world is not far away. Eleutherodactylus cundalli are troglophiles; they are always close inside an entrance. The snails that left the shells were not cave-dwellers; none are. The tree roots had not penetrated metres of rock to reach this chamber.

In search of the route to the outside, Mark and I started by turning off our headlamps and looking for daylight; no luck. Next, we explored the smaller neighbouring chambers, with nothing do-able found. After about 20 min's of looking, we were left with a best-guess. The route to the surface is at the far end of the final chamber, through a very low crawl, where the snail shells and roots are the greatest. After several metres, the height is under 30 cm, and it offered no passage to humans this day. But, with a little work, it will on another day. Accordingly, I am posting an advisory that will be found at the end of these notes.

Having found all that we could, (since we didn't have a shovel), the two of us worked our way back to Melissa and Cory. As we approached the River Pit, and the scramble back onto the ledge, we could hear Melissa and Cory chatting and could see occasional glimpses of light from their headlamps on the ceiling of the chamber. Somehow, it made everything seem very homey, comfortable, like hearing girls passing the time of day on a porch ahead of us. This was the first time we'd ever had more than one woman at a time with us in a serious cave. It was very pleasant.

Once reunited on the ledge, the four of us began our way back to the drop-chamber. Knowing that Melissa had caving experience with Adam Hyde, and thusly knew what she was doing, I thought this would be a good time to give her an opportunity to lead a team. Once we had made our way through the corkscrew into the Canyon section, I asked her to take over. Melissa, in good form, took us right to the final stal squeeze into the drop-chamber, no problem. Several minures later, we were back at the base of the rope.

For the ascent, we again kept to our plan to have Mark as supervisor, and trainer, for the other PC volunteers. I headed up first, giving a few tips, then Mark checked gear and coached as Melissa and Cory prusiked up the line. They both had no problems, and we were soon pulling rope and preparing to leave the cave.

It was now about 17:00 and we had no time for Duppy Cave, but it had been a productive day all the same.

Several notes:

The GPS position was checked again. +/- 5 m is what you'll get with GPS WAAS, 5+ sat's, without standing there and averaging.

The map in JU is not truly representative of what is found beyond the River Pit.

On our way into the cave, as we had passed the first squeeze after the entrance, there had been a strong smell of wood-smoke in the air. This was still present 12 m down in the drop-chamber, and indeed on into the Canyon. It was still detectable in the River Pit, past another tight squeeze. After our ascent, when we found a half-dozen guest/audience at the top of the drop, I asked about the smoke. I was told that they had been cooking in the entrance chamber the day before. This is interesting in two ways: it shows that there was at least a slight inward flow of air to the cave from the road-side entrance; it shows the length of time that a cave can be disturbed by an activity that takes place at the very outermost part of the cave. The smoke was strong in the bat-roosts of the drop-chamber and the bat numbers seemed very low. Judging by the strength of the smoke after 24 hours, it would be an irritant to the bats for at least 48. If the cook-out in the cave entrance is taking place once a week, then the bat-roosts are being disturbed two out of every seven days. The cook-outs might not be so regular, and the smoke may linger more than 48 hours, but despite the vagueness of the parameter, it remains a potentially serious irritant to the bats.

The presence of that amount of smoke also indicates a very low rate of airflow. The water in the River Pit was high, choking any chance of flow inward from the resurgence, but a slight convective flow was still managing to waft through most of the cave. When water levels are low in the River Pit, the flow is much stronger. I have to think that the flow we noted was being driven by the fissures close to the surface, higher on the hill, that are at the far end of the cave.

Aug 20, 2003


Position: WGS84 - 18 23' 19.0" N, 77 44' 50.7" W

Field notes: R. S. STEWART

Cavers: R. S. Stewart, M. Taylor, R. Sterling

After we'd found and entered Valley Pit, we drove back down to Deeside from Chatworth to have a look at Deeside Cave. We hadn't been into it since June 13, 2002, and I was very interested in seeing what was happening in the river pit.

There were four of us in all, Ivor Conolley, Martel Taylor, a friend of Ivor's, Rona, who was lending a hand, and myself. Because of the off-chance of someone removing the rope at the first drop when we were further into the cave, Ivor decided to stay at the top of the pitch. Rona, Martel and I rapped down.

To give a quick review of the physical nature of this cave, I'll describe the main route in: The cave entrance is located on a hillside near a resurgence that is at a sharp turn in the road, not far from Deeside, on the way to Springvale. An entrance chamber of about 6 metres diameter gives way to a west-trending passage of about 2.5 m that soon ends in a squeeze through a stal barrier. After this squeeze, a short distance along a rifted passage brings one to the top of a vertical of about 10 metres. This is where Ivor remained. At the bottom of this vertical, a large passage ends in a crawl through stals to the south. This crawl brings one to a T-junction, the eastern branch ending in choked chamber, the western branch taking one up a talus slope that leads to the Canyon. At the western end of the Canyon, a finely decorated chamber conceals a squeeze, through stals, that leads to the River Pit. I'd been fortunate in having the sound of flowing water to allow me to find this squeeze on my first visit to the cave, otherwise I might not have found it despite the map in JU. On my previous visit to the cave, Jun 2002, the water was sumped up so high in the pit that there was no noise being produced by water, and once again this time, there was no sound to be heard from the Canyon end of the squeeze. It actually took me a few minutes to relocate it even though I'd been through it twice before.

The rap down the pitch had gone fine and we slowly worked our way towards the river pit until the three of us were gathered on the ledge high above the waters of the pit. This time, there was the sound of just minor trickling in the depths below. The water level was well above the levels of Feb 23, 2002, and some metres below what we had observed on Jun 13, 2002. To summarize: In Feb, 2002, the water levels were low so the river was only partially filling the initial part of the passage that takes the downstream waters of the underground river that passes through the pit, thusly creating a terrific roar of water in the depths below, and clouds of mist drifting upwards, as the river dropped over rapids to the downstream sump. In Jun 2002, the water levels were so high in the river chamber that there was absolute silence, except for an occasional drip, the passages below being totally drowned in the depths. This visit, Aug, 2003, the downstream passage was almost, but not entirely, submerged.

An interesting byproduct of this change in water levels is that there seems to be an associated variability of the breeze felt at the first stal barrier encountered after the entrance. The temperature of the cave varies accordingly. In Jun 2002, the temperature was markedly higher than either of the other two visits. Simple exterior heating of the overlying rock should have resulted in warm temperatures in Aug, but although it wasn't as cool as Feb, it was much cooler than Jun 2002, a time of high rainfall and little sun. In effect, the temperature of the cave seems to be inversely related to the level of the water in the River Pit. The notes by Atkinson from 1967, (the month isn't given in JU), indicate low water levels in the pit and a strong airflow outward from the stal barrier. They also describe a downstream sump in the River Pit during their visit but it is not stated whether the passage to the resurgence would have admitted air. The passage that continues west, from the ledge above the pit, and eventually chokes close to the surface, is above the level of the entrance. This implies convective airflow originating via the resurgence and River Pit when water levels are low enough. An attempt at determining if this effect is real, and if it can be quantified, should be made in the future.

We returned to the bottom of the pitch, and first Martel, then Rona, jumared up. I stayed at the bottom until last to advise Rona on her ascent; this was her first time using vertigear and Ivor had belayed her with a second rope for both the descent and the ascent. She managed quite well, with my coaching her from the bottom, and then Ivor from the top.

We hauled ropes and exited the cave.

N.B. to self: Discuss with SK a specific project monitoring changes in numbers of indicator species as related to phreatic/airflow/temperature dynamic.

June 13, 2002


Field Notes: R. S. Stewart

Cavers: S. Koenig, Geo Graening, S. McGinnis, Guy Graening, R. S. Stewart

Cave entrance position marked as Wpt 005, at 11:30, Garmin GPS76 with external antenna, DGPS, accuracy +/- 5 m 18 23’ 19.0” N, 77 44’ 50.7 W, WGS84

I got a decent WAAS fix about 1.5 m north of the entrance. Geo pointed out, “cave pearls”, on the way to the drop. These are calcium pebbles formed in pools of water. I hadn’t noticed them before.

Guy rigged the pitch and we all rapped down. We found the crawl through the low stal curtain right away; I’d left 2 flags last Feb. I left them in place again this time... the crawl back out is a bit hard to spot at first. In the canyon, Geo pointed out hordes of tiny red mites in smallish patches on the boulders. They seemed to glisten as they moved; there were literally thousands in a space smaller than your hand. In the same area I spotted a very old, corroded wristwatch half-buried in the muddy floor. It could be from the JCC 30 years ago. I left it there lying on a small stalagmite.

The cave was markedly warmer than Feb 23. As we approached the final crawl to the river pit I kept expecting to hear the sound of the river echoing back into the canyon like it was last Feb 23, but it stayed quiet. Water levels were high so it certainly couldn’t be dry. After we’d entered the river pit chamber, Geo produced the answer; the river pit was now a standing sump with the current down in the stream passage under many metres of water. By leaning over the edge I could see the water some 5-10 m higher than Feb. Time seemed a bit short so I didn’t carry on past the pit.

We went back to the drop, jumared out without incident, and exited the cave.

Feb 23, 2002


Field Notes: R. S. Stewart

Cavers: S. Koenig, M. Taylor, R. S. Stewart

Entrance 11:45

Susan and I went down the 1st drop with Malibu staying at the top. The route is easy to follow and a crawl after the Canyon brings you to the top of the river pit. I left two pieces of flagging at start of crawl leaving the river pit, (this is the only tricky place on the route). (Note: Retrieve them next time in.)

The sound of the river in the pit below is interesting. Both Susan and I could make out bizarre sounds in the noise…..Susan heard radios and people talking, for me it was low pitched mumbling.

Signs of fracturing are obvious in the rock ledge above the river pit. It looks as though it will fall in eventually.

JCC graffiti was seen at the base of the 1st drop. I got a picture of it.

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