A Trip To Remember

Three months prior to this trip, our September River City Grotto (RCG) meeting was held at Bold City Brewery. When our President, Mike Thomas, suggested having meetings at Bold City Brewery we thought we may get a few new folks wandering in, and we did. Three brand new people showed up that day (two Mikes and a Cliff). When chatting with the three new people, I found they were very interested in visiting Warrens Cave. We get a LOT of requests for visiting Warrens Cave, and most people feel put off when we suggest getting experience first. Most people, just want to visit Warrens without experience. Due to extra time and effort, most perspective Warrens Cave visitors just vanish. The two Mikes and a Cliff are not most people.

The three new people were excited to get on a beginner trip to Hitch-hiker Cave. Caving seems like fun, and it is, however it takes people out of their comfort zone. It is pitch black, walking and climbing over rough terrain, sometimes being exposed to heights or very tight squeezes. Caving can be very dangerous. Which is why we stress safety and getting with a group to learn safety. Which is why we enforce a kind of training schedule before visiting Warrens Cave.

After Hitch-hiker we set up a training day for climbing (SRT). The three amigos introduced the fourth amigo, Chelsea, at this time. Soon after the climb day they refined their skills in an easy vertical cave called Jennings.

On December 19th, 2020 after long expectation and lots of practice, the 4 amigos got to visit Warrens Cave. The morning was chilly but sunny. We were also joined by Ben and ARI. This may be Dr. Ben’s last cave trip with our group, since he finished his PhD and is looking at relocating for work. ARI- goes by initials due to his actual name being long and difficult to pronounce. ARI is a seasoned caver, skydiver, drone pilot, and photographer- but has never visited Warrens Cave. So, this was indeed a special trip, which is why it is getting a special write up. It became even more special when the four amigos gave the cave guide (that would be me) a beautiful gift of a bottle of Bullet Bourbon in appreciation for training, time, and trips.

We arrived on time, got ready, and rigged the first drop. There is a current study going on in Warrens cave about the Bat population. Personally I have never seen many bats, but apparently they hide very well. Warrens cave has a very large bat population. It is currently one of the largest homes to Tri-colored bats. We also found the water has dropped in the pond, so it is actually difficult to get to the water. We spotted 3 very mature crayfish in the pond.

Phil, who really doesn’t like heights very much climbs 10 feet over the drop to rig the pit.
(Photo by Michal Yang)
A pair of Tri-colored bats. The Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis Subflavus) is considered a micro bat, and is the smallest of the 13 species of bats living in Florida.
(Photo by ARI Cave)

We all did the climb on the far side and made it through the Cashew Squeeze to the Infernal Triangle. Rather than go deeper into the cave, we took the right side passage to the end. The passages up front are fissure cracks (narrow and high), however at the end of the right passage they change to a low wide series of maze-like crawls.

After returning to the Infernal Triangle we took the left passage. This is also a fissure passage, with some interesting bends and twists all the way to a deep pit in the back. The passage is interesting due to the walls being Karst or Limestone. The Karst is very white. However the ceiling and parts of the walls are made of Chert. Chert is a harder version of limestone that appears very dark. Chert being much harder does not erode easily, so what makes up the Chert ceiling in one level, is the floor in the upper level. On the way back we climbed up through the ceiling to look at the upper level passages and rooms.

Phil and Michael taking in a Van Gogh like phreatic passage.

With lots of smiles and good cheer we exited Warrens Cave, thankful that it is being protected and accessible. Thanks to the National Speologicial Society and the Warrens Cave Board for continuing to manage and protect this beautiful natural resource. Everyone was also grateful that they had training and experience to enter this cave safely.