Jamaican Caving Notes
Feb 22, 2004
HOME AWAY CAVE
Field notes: MARK BELLINGER
Cavers: M. Bellinger, I. C. Conolley, M. Taylor
The walk between the hills of the Cockpit can be quite pleasant. I still managed to get some ticks, but the stroll along the stream is nice. Then we turned up the hill.
The hills of cockpit are not so big, but they are tough. The incline is very steep and covered with vines and trees. All the plants seemed to tug on me. I also met the ‘scratch bush’. This is very much like the itch weed of the Shenandoah. You touch it, and your skin burns for the next half hour.
It was rocky, too. On the way up, the rocks were covered with heavy leaf litter. Sometimes, the ground would swallow half of my walking stick. At the top of the hill we began traversing through sharp and brittle limestone formations. The rock was sharp enough to cut thru my pants.
After a fair amount of poking around and over 3 hours walking, we came to the cave. I was covered in sweat and already dirty. But the entry point was appropriately grand. Its opening was large and looked like something out of a movie. It looked as if it was formed when the ceiling collapsed. If the opening had been a bit smaller and, it would have been an amazing hole in the ground.
For the rigging, we were woefully short of carabiners, but it all got setup. The rappel was along a strip that was quite muddy. And, as it turns out, the rope just reached the bottom. No problems, but we were surprised there was not some more rope lying on the ground. Lesson learned: Put a knot at the end of the rope, always.
The cave had a huge entrance that lead into another huge cavern. The cave floor was covered in brown, dry guano. Once again a very muddy cave, but the dry mounds were new. The dry guano seemed to have the same qualities as the leaf litter in covering the rocks. It looked like it could cover a hole you could fall thru, and so I followed in Ivor’s footsteps.
We walked around the cavern and then walked back to another opening. This required a short, simple, but hazardous, climb. Both Ivor and Malibu were concerned about my safe passage. We all got out safe, and ultimately, spent less than an hour in the cave with a walk of almost 5 hours.
We exited, and found our way back to the first entrance. Our travel down the hill was quicker than going up, but still challenging. My legs were tired, as was I. In parts, I seemed to be mostly lunging from tree to tree. I was covered in dirt.
On the other hand, Malibu never seemed tired nor did he get so dirty. He seemed to glide both up and now down the hill. He was wearing his Sunday shoes and looked like he came directly from church to the cave. He was clean enough at the end of the day to back to church, whereas I would have been denied entry into the bus or taxi. On the way down, he managed to find and coil a large piece of wicker. If the hill had been longer, he may have had a stool built by the time he reached bottom.
A final quiet and flat walk to the Last Resort was a good finish. Delroy made dinner for the three of us. Very tasty. And, once again, well after the journey has been thru, I find ticks three days later and have a skin rash to remind me of my journeys.
|Jamaican Cave Notes - Main Page||Jan - Feb 2004 Caving Notes - Main Page|