June 16, 2004
Position: WGS84 - 18 14' 47.0" N, 77 48' 26.3" W, +/- 10m
Field notes: R.S.STEWART
Cavers: R. S. Stewart, D. K. Roggy, E. Slack
Time in: 17:15 EST, Time out: 17:30 EST
THREAT VULNERABILITY: Low
While searching for the Niagara River Sinks the day before, (with no luck), we had come across an area of large breakdown rocks that allowed one to pass through a saddle, of sorts, between small hills on either side. Thinking that it offered potential for caves, we had a good look around, and under, the large boulders that plugged the saddle. Elizabeth, off exploring by herself, had found and crawled into an opening that appeared to offer potential. When we had regrouped at the base of the saddle, she'd reported that she'd found a chamber with bats. Due to the lateness of the day, there was no time left for as all to scramble in to have a look, so we decided to put it off until the next day when we would be in the district again. This was done, and on Jan 16, after the Blue Hole Glade Caves, we made a return visit.
When Elizabeth had led us through the boulders to reach the chamber that she'd made a solo visit to the day before, I was quite impressed that she'd even found the thing in the first place. To get into it required squeezing and scrambling through an assortment of large slabs of rock that had broken off of an overhanging section of the hill above. It wasn't easy work. It must be noted that this was her first session with the JCO, and only her fourth day of caving. So far, she'd been brave, and little concerned with the selection of rather narrow-passaged caves that our systematic search and assessment of the caves of St James had dictated, but this was a step beyond, and showed that she possessed the sense of curiosity required of a truly successful caver.
The chamber that we reached has been formed through a break-down process, on the exposed face of a hill, that is made up of strongly-bedded cretaceous limestone. Stals have formed in the resultant void and there is sufficient darkness to allow it to serve as a habitat for Artibeus bats. Any guano that might be accumulating is in a lower section, this overhung, and although only a couple of metres lower, unclimbable on the way out, thus requiring a rope. As we had not brought a rope up to the cave, and it was quite late in the day, and we saw that there was in all likelihood no continuations, we decided to pass on going back to the car to get one.
This cave may be regarded as a shelter cave that is mostly blocked by large rock slabs on the outward side. Enough water percolates from above to form some stals, but essentially the chamber is very dry. No inverts were seen, but it would be expected that there would be some troglophiles in the lower section where guano would collect. The full extent of the cave is about 10 x 10 x 10 m, with flat surfaces in most of it due to the bedding planes.
Generally, we do not name caves after any of our crew, but because the finding of this shelter showed such initiative on the part of Elizabeth, we will make an exception this time and name it after her. That said, when she was off by herself finding this chamber, the day before, we had no idea where she was until she returned, and if she had taken a fall and knocked herself out, it would have taken us some time to find her. We'll need to temper her sense of curiosity slightly, and ensure that she stays in contact with the rest of the crew in the future.