Jamaican Caving Notes
Still Waters Cave
April 6, 2005
Team: Stewart, Conolley, Roggy, Slack
Notes: RS Stewart
Still Waters Cave is a large stream labyrinth taking the waters of a short seasonal stream that rises and sinks in the same cockpit. Development is joint-controlled. The entrance passage is low and is sumped in rainy-times. In dry times, it allows access to a confusing network of passages. During our visit, the entrance sump was completely dry
Biologically, the cave is very active, with nutrient input supplied by detritus. As would be expected, Sesarma are present, but there are also several species of arachnids. Two Araneae, G. cavernicola, and an unidentified cave-adapted species, as well as an Opilione were seen. Small fish (possibly Mullet fry washed in during rains) are found. There were many N. farri, but we're unsure what they were predating.
No bats were seen, and the regular sumping of the entrance would suggest that they never use the passages as roosts, although some of them are high enough to allow it if the cave were dryer. The entrance chamber itself is entirely in the twilight zone.
The source of the stream in the cockpit is probably Accompong, judging by the topography. Big Well, and the other systems upstream of that, are likely candidates.
Siltation is moderate, and does not seem to be doing great damage to the cave, but garbage from the cockpit is being rafted-in during rains.
Along with the garbage, have come invasive roaches, P. americana. They don't have their favourite food available, bat guano, so numbers are not great. Apparently, the nutrient input from the rafted detritus is not such that they can out-compete other invert scavengers, as seen in bat-roosts.
At noon, we pulled the plug on our visit, making sure we were out of the cave before the afternoon rains began. There is a serious flood-risk in parts of this cave.
We are listing this site with a medium vulnerability, because of the garbage entering the system.
Still Waters Cave
April 6, 2005
Notes: DK Roggy
Since this was the most flood prone cave we would be visiting during this session, we didn't linger. My notes indicate that we went in at 10am and came out by about 1045. The cave gets low and wide in places, and narrow in others. There was water in the passages, not far from the entrance. I caught a Gambusia like fish that was placed in a sample vial.
Aug 22, 2003
STILL WATERS CAVE
Position: WGS84 - 18 12' 56.4" N, 77 45 25.6" W
Field notes: R. S. STEWART
Cavers: R. S. Stewart, M. Taylor
Aug 22, 2003, saw us on our way to Quick Step. The plan was to visit Still Waters Cave, in the Accompong district, en route, to obtain a GPS position and have a look at whether hydrological conditions would allow us to get past the entrance sump.
Once again, we made the journey from Windsor via the Deeside-Maroon Town Road, and then south through Elderslie. It is remarkable that the 13 km distance between Windsor and Quick Step requires a drive of 4 hours around the Cockpit Country to accomplish by car. Our preferred route is very scenic, but once done a few times becomes outright work. The roads are rough, the curves are plentiful, and the taxis that are dodged on the way are driven by the usual madmen. Nevertheless, the journey to Accompong was made, uneventfully, and by early afternoon we were beginning our search for the entrance to Still Waters.
We had arrived at Accompong Town, the bastion of the Maroons, by way of the western of the two roads that lead to the town, and this turned out to be quite fortunate as the very first people that we met had amongst them, "Mark", a man who had assisted the Liverpool U. expeditions in past years, and who was also an acquaintance of Mike, at Windsor. Mark and his companions were having a wake for a friend who had recently died, so he was unable to join us caving, but we were able to get some good info and his cell phone number for future contact.
After taking a quick tour around Accompong to see the sights, we drove down the eastern road that leads out of town, towards Whitehall, to find the cave. We had a good idea of where it was, but rather than start beating the bush at the bottom of the cliff that rises above the entrance, we inquired at the nearest house to see if we might find someone local who could take us straight to it. We soon linked, thanks to a very nice woman who was at the second house that we tried, with a youth of about 19 years, Avian Kenry Campbell. At first, he showed us a small crawl on the west side of the road above the expected location. It is said by the people of the district, we were told by Avian, that this leads to another cave somewhere, but a quick foray into it showed it to dead-end within 10 metres. Once back out, I consulted Avian on his knowledge of the polje to the east, at the bottom of the cliff along which the road-cut, which was where I believed the entrance to be. His candor in telling us of his lack of familiarity with the bottomland was very refreshing and reinforced the good feelings I have about the district. Although he didn't know of the cave, he knew the man who owned the land, Mr. Rowe, and suggested that we check with him, in Whitehall. This seemed like a good course of action, so we all squeezed into the car, Martel, Tumpa, Avian, myself, and assorted gear, and headed down the road to find Mr. Rowe.
Avian directed us to a large, impressive house in Whitehall, and we soon had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cleon Rowe. Mr. Rowe is a well-educated, well-spoken man, and although he did not know of Still Waters Cave by name, our description of the entrance gave him enough to be able to instruct Avian on how to get us there. We talked for some 15-20 minutes, mostly about the state of the world, and I found him to be a very wise man. I have to admit to some bias, because as soon as he had learned that I was Canadian-born, he expressed his great respect for Canada for having had stayed out of America's latest war, something that I profoundly agreed with. At any rate, bias or no bias, it was very cool linking with the man and I look forward to our next meeting.
It should be noted that in the course of the discussion, I had mentioned that freshwater sampling had taken place at the cave in recent months. He expressed great surprise at this and made it clear that he wasn't too happy about having had people cross his land without permission, even if they were researchers. There was no problem with us going there, but he asked that we check in with him whenever we visited the cave. We, of course, readily assured him that indeed we would. I'd like it to go on record in these notes that any others who wish to visit Still Waters are requested to check with Mr. Cleon Rowe prior to the session. He may be easily found by asking anyone in Whitehall, south of Accompong, where he lives.
We made our goodbye's, and then drove back up towards Accompong, parked at the top of a trail that leads down, and north, onto the bottomland that lies to the east of the road, loaded up with gear, and hiked down the trail. As usual, it was raining as we made our way, but this was no great concern as we fully expected to get wet once we were in the cave anyway. As we crossed the flats of the bottomland, we came across a small stream flowing straight towards the cliff. We knew that the cave takes the waters of a small stream, so we followed this, downstream, sometimes on the banks, and at times wading along the riverbed itself. In less than ten minutes, we were at the entrance.
It soon became obvious, after wading into the entrance chamber, that we wouldn't be able to penetrate the cave on this day. The stream was feeding a lot of water into the system, the sump was high, and an attempt seemed likely to result in drowned cavers. The very strong current into the cave, and the turbidity, made the duck through the sump entirely unmanageable. There was nothing to be done except have a good look, then get a GPS position for the entrance.
A close examination of the entrance chamber showed no American Roaches. It would be expected that if they are not found in the entrance chamber then they will not be found further into the cave. There were also no Amblypygi, crickets, or spiders. We were only able to observe the twilight zone, and turbidity prevented an examination of the entrance pool, so we weren't able to accomplish anything for rapid assessment other than getting a position and observing the cave to be very hydrologically active.
A proper GPS position at the base of the cliff that holds the entrance was not possible, so I sent Martel out with one end of the tape until he was 30 metres from the cliff. The brush was thick enough that to get a good bearing I had to have him tie a length of orange flagging tape onto a long stick, and then wave it back and forth above him. I didn't trust the tape to have been kept completely straight as he pulled it through the brush. Once I had the bearing, I joined him, observing that he had managed a fairly straight 30 metres through the undergrowth, and began running the GPS. A good fix was soon in hand and we then hiked back to the car.
The stream that feeds into Still Waters Cave is rather mysterious. Donald McFarlane, who was on the initial survey by Liverpool U., has told me that they had no idea where the waters originated, or where they eventually resurged, and as far as I know, to date, no one else does either. A look at the topo gives no clues. The stream that passes through this cockpit is evidently just a small surface component of a much greater, deep-lying, underground river. I regret now having not followed the stream to its rising to take a look, although I'm sure that if there were a cave Liverpool would have found it. I'm looking forward to a return visit during the dry season.
Before closing this report, it should be noted that the district of Accompong is beautiful, the people are friendly, and there is none of the tension that one feels in certain other districts of the island. The Maroon blood is strong here. It seems that Accompong and Cudjoe still give guidance, lawfulness, and peace to the people.
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