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OBSCURITY CAVE

What separates a spelunker from a real caver? Spelunkers visit for fun without much thought for conservation, kind of like a Forida tourist exploiting the natural resources. Cavers, on the other hand, search for caves, discover caves, and work especially hard to conserve and preserve the cave.

This is what led me to the local mountains armed with only an obscure reference in a 1970’s grotto newsletter about a possible dig site. That little reference was the last time anybody seems to have either noticed or cared.

OBSCURITY

  • the state or quality of being obscure
  • an obscure person or thing

OBSCURE - ob·scure

  • indistinct to the sight or any other sense; not readily seen, heard, etc.; faint.
  • inconspicuous or unnoticeable
  • far from public notice, worldly affairs, or important activities; remote
  • enveloped in, concealed

DECEMBER 8, 2010 - At 8:45 AM both John Van Cott and Michael Leavitt (myself) headed up a local canyon searching for this possible dig site. These often turn into little fractures in the rock that are nothing more than ratholes that quickly pinch off. Without certain GPS coordinates, we climbed the rather steep shaley hillside often using the scrub oak to keep from falling.

Excitement often turns to discouragement because there is no neon sign flashing “CAVE” to guide you to the spot. Instead, you find yourself trying to see what discoverers from decades earlier defined as a prospective cave. Was it an opening? Was it just rubble with blowing air? Or was it just a fracture in the rock? So you keep looking up the mountainside knowing that it could be anywhere in a 1/4 mile wide strip going up a few thousand feet. And John and I did just that as we spread out so as not to waste time following one another’s footsteps.

The discouragement of which I referred earlier was starting to set in, but I kept feeling like this was going to be a good day for discovery. I crossed a wash and headed westward towards a large cliff. Knowing the cliff was near I turned back downward trying to find a safe way down and I saw a depression just 10 feet ahead. The closer I stepped, the larger the drop off. I got to the edge and looked straight down about 10 feet. My heart was pounding as I knew this was the discovery. I climbed down and saw the opening. In fact, it was two definite openings right next to one another.

I yelled out to John and he came from the side and also never saw the location until he was right on it. The depression is unique because 10 feet away in any dorection and the opening is completely obscured from view. From the cave opening you walk straight outward about 15 feet on level ground and then it drops off down the hill, so approaching from below it is also concealed. John came to my voice and he was equally shocked by the location.

Looking at these two small holes in the rock’s fracture were different than other ratholes on the same mountain. The ceilings were covered with water flowstone type finish that indicated lots and lots of prior water had flowed off the top of these passages. The passage to the left is about 4 feet deep and has soft dirt on the floor with the ceiling arching downward to the back with water flow feature all the way below grade. The passage on the right went back inward and a bit downward. I dropped to my knees with a headlamp on and started to crawl inside. I was first worried that a cougar might occupy the lair, and then worried that I might not be able to back out so I yelled up to John, “Hey John, make sure you can grab my ankles if needed to pul me back up.” And with that, I could see in far enough that there was a small room big enough for my large torso to be able to easily turn around, so I slithered right on inside.

This room was not huge, but I could easily kneel and turn around. It was about 12 to 15 feet from the initial entry and the floor of the room seemed to be about 4 feet below the opening. The floor was soft dirt that had come in from the opening over the years and was soft to dig. The ceiling was “karsty” looking and flowed all the way to the dirt floor. I dug down with my hands a bit, but was not prepared to make any real progress.

After about 15 minutes of light dirt repositioning, I was still excited about the prospects and we decided to take pictures of the location and then head for home set to return with reinforcements.

CAVE NAME: So why Obscurity Cave? Well nothing comes from the clever combining of the names John Van Cott and Michael Leavitt. The location was once referenced and lost and our rediscovery resheds light, yet the location is near impossible to find without surefire directions. Obscurity is the perfect label for what might turn into a very significant cave. Now only further digging will tell the rest of the story.

Take a look at the photos and let me know what you think of the prospects.

PHOTOS
Obscurity
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