Jamaican Caving Notes
|MAY 11, 2003|
Field notes: R. S. STEWART
Cavers: R. S. Stewart, I. C. Conolley, M. Taylor
In 1989, fossils of the extinct rodent, Clidomys, had been collected at a site in Lluidas Vale, on property owned by Mikey Slue, by Mr. Slue and Laurie Wilkins of the U. of Florida. Donald A McFarlane had mentioned that he had some concern that the small shelter cave where the bone breccia had been found would become, "another lost cave", as a result of there being no recorded location, just a description. I had volunteered the crew to relocate this cave and May 11 saw us in Lluidas Vale on a hunt for first the Slue's, and then the cave.
We arrived in the Vale at about 11:00 after a 2 1/2 hour drive from Falmouth. Our first stop was at the village of Lluidas Vale proper where we began to make a series of inquiries that eventually found us the house of one of Mikey Slues's family. Unfortunately, none of the Slue's were in the Vale that day and only the wife of one of them was at home. We were told that either one of the Slue's was in Ty Dixton, or that the property of Mikey was there... I was trying to get info on both questions and wasn't sure which was being answered. Nevertheless, it was progress.
Curiously, there are two places named Ty Dixton near the Vale: one is a village in the highlands to the north, and the other is a forested district on the NW corner of the Vale. We headed for the village of that name, and when we arrived were able to promptly find two youths who were familiar with the Slue's and with Mikey's farmland. Enlisting their help, (for 300 J$, about 9 Cdn$), we returned to the Vale, parked, and hiked a short distance to find what I believed them to be calling History Cave, although Ivor recalls it as being called John's Cave. It soon became obvious that this was not what we sought, as it bore no resemblance to the photo of the entrance to Slue's Cave that I had via D A McFarlane. We questioned them further as we hiked back to the car and determined that they indeed knew of the farmland of Mikey, and that it was a very long hike through Worthy Park land to get to. I let everyone know that this was our mission and that long hike, or short, we were on our way. I also offered to add another 200 J$ to the 300 already promised to compensate them for their time.
We drove back towards the estate, then turned to drive along lanes through Worthy Park cane fields for several kilometres. As it turned out, we were able to drive the entire way to Mikey Slue's land and didn't need to hike at all. Although most of the lanes we had taken are shown as public access on the topo map, perhaps the youths would not normally have thought in terms of getting there by car, or indeed be off in the Worthy Park Estate cane fields in the first place, or perhaps it was a simple negotiating strategy that succeeded admirably.
Close to the hills of lower Ty Dixton, the old homestead of Mikey Slue sits in front of a low cliff. The bottom of this cliff has a long indentation that forms a shelter of 2 - 3 m depth, 3 m in height. The part immediately behind the old Slue farmhouse has been extensively modified, reportedly during the last 5 years, by the addition of low block walls and a concrete floor. A band of fragile sedimentary reddish-yellow mudstone stretches for a discontinuous total of about 12 m, about 1 m above the ground. The layer is about 30 cm high and extends about 10 to 15 cm outward from the cliff. It appeared to match the photo of breccia that I had from D. A. McFarlane, but a close examination revealed only many snail shells in the matrix. None was removed so it cannot be said what might have been contained within the interior of it.
I could not find specific formations visible in the entrance photo and indeed, I have great doubts that what we found is the actual site that we searched for; the visual appearance did not match the photo and what we located could not reasonably be described as a shelter cave. Further searching along the cliff face did not find us anything that would be a better match. The actual site of Slue's Cave may be located in one of the saddles between the low hills that lie to the north-west of the farm, since this is where, in my experience, a shelter cave might be found.
Photos were taken of the breccia, (if it was such), and also the cliff and farmhouse. A very accurate GPS position was determined by measuring out exactly 30 m from the center of the breccia band on the cliff, at a bearing of 130 deg, and then marking the point and averaging the WAAS position. The fix was 3D DGPS, with very good satellite acquisition at that point, well away from the cliff and out from under canopy. It should be better than +/- 5m. The wpt's saved, 89, 90, 91, are identical in lat to .1" and range over .2" in long. Wpt 90, (Withheld), WGS84, may be considered the most accurate. The breccia is at a bearing of 310 deg true, 30 m (measured), from this point. The compass was a Brunton Eclipse, the GPS was a Garmin GPS76, WAAS enabled. The WAAS geo-synch satellite was well placed and factoring in on all channels.
On our way out from the Vale, we stopped at the home of the wife of one of the Slue family, and I questioned her closely as to if where we had been, and had been told was Mikey Slue's, matched her description of his land. As best I could determine, she confirmed that we'd been in the right place. I was able to get a cell ph # for her husband to use for arrangements on a future visit so that we can actually have Mikey Slue with us next time
A repeat visit will be made in the future if necessary to try to find a better match to the entrance photo. The saddles within 500 m of Wpt 90, in an arc from 225 to 50 deg true, offer the most potential.
(The position is not being posted in the online version of these notes for the time being).
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