Friday, October 16, 2009

A Trip to Hutchings Hole

I've been doing a fair bit of caving lately, trying to get it out of my system and take advantage of the good weather before winter sets in. A couple weekends ago I joined a Tri-Grotto get-together, where I met lots of cavers. I decided to visit Hutchings Hole with a group. To get there we drove a long way on bumpy gravel roads through sagebrush-covered terrain. Much of it looked like the photo above.

Finally we reached the end of the road (which then turned into an ATV trail). It was time to park, get our gear, and hike up to the cave. Sometimes finding the cave can be a whole adventure in itself, but fortunately we had a couple of people who had been to the cave before, including one who had GPS coordinates to a cave that had a different name but matched the description. (This cave has many names, because it has been "discovered" many times.) After a slight detour, we were in the right spot.

Here's some of the group hiking up the hill. We had the rare sight of a mostly cloudy sky over the Great Basin terrain.

Within a five minute walk, we were at the edge of the cave entrance. And it was quite a cave entrance! A gaping hole about 40 feet wide and 15 feet across led to a dark passage below. There was a dropoff of about 10 feet to get into the hole.

An obligatory butt shot. Here they are discussing the best way to get down into the hole, which now appeared deeper than it was in their memories.

A rope was rigged, but a tree branch was found to be in an opportune location so that the rope could just be used as a handline and no rappelling or ascending gear was necessary.

The inside of the cave was full of big breakdown blocks. The cave sloped down quite steeply, so we had to carefully pick our way though the rocks. We could see the huge entrance from almost every spot in the cave. 

But near the back there was a hole going down through the boulders. I followed a couple other cavers down a handline and found that there was quite a bit more passage. There wasn't anything particularly notable-no cave formations, water passages, or exotic cave biota. But it was still fun going down a passageway where I didn't know what was at the end of it.

Here's a skeleton that was near the entrance, probably a jackrabbit.

And here's the cave entrance from below. Even though the cave wasn't all that big, it was still a fun trip. The fault-block cave was quite a bit different than many of the dissolution caves in the area. And it was great to meet some other cavers.

We hiked back to the vehicles, happy to have visited a little bit more of the subterranean world, and ready to go on the next expedition.

3 comments:

Sheila said...

What are Breakdown Blocks?

Desert Survivor said...

breakdown blocks are large boulders that have fallen from the ceiling--the rock has 'broken down'.

eped said...

chupacabra

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