Splunking for Stephanie's Birthday!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

This past weekend I drove home to WV to spend time with my family, celebrating my twin brother, and I's 25th birthday. We wanted to do something a little different.... caving in wild caves located in middle/southern WV. It had been years since we had last gone caving as a family and wanted to do it again before I left for Florida for a few months.

The first cave that we made it to (Fieldhouse Cave) ended up being a little different then we last remembered (with tons of drops / repelling), since we had a few friends that were new to caving and only brought one climbing rope with us,we climbed back out then went on to our next spot.

Entrance to Fieldhouse Cave

Fieldhouse Cave is located on a farm in WV.

My Dad has a book on all of the wild caves in WV with GPS coordinates and roughed out maps of their layouts. Since we were feeling adventurous, I quickly found the closest wild cave (Stratosphere Balloon Cave) and typed in its coordinates on the GPS. From the description in the book, this cave was once a commercial cave in the late 1930s and was abandoned by the late 1940s from lack of visitors. In our opinion we thought it would be a great starter cave for a few of our friends to try first. After a few hours of searching the hillsides with no luck to its entrance decided to go to one our all time favorite caves - Mystic Cave. (We later found out that due to nearby mining, the cave entrance had been blocked "Until Further Notice")

Seneca Rocks

Hiking back down the mountain to our cars.

My brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Jenny

View of Germany Valley

Starting the climb to find Stratosphere Balloon Cave

Mystic Cave, like most caves in WV, is located on a farm and you have to get permission from the owner to enter it (it also leaves someone behind in case your group doesn't return so they know to call for backup). Mystic is owned by a very sweet elderly lady that loves to offer tea and talk with all of the spelunkers.
Climbing down to the entrance of Mystic Cave.

Mystic is a "wet" cave.... meaning that you will get wet, muddy, and dirty as there is an ice cold stream that still flows through it year round. While we were there it was at the lowest level we had ever experienced. It allowed us to push passages that were normally underwater. Wild caving is a lot like an obstacle course. It encourages team work (much like sailing) and we always stick together so as not to get lost. 

All together, we were in Mystic Cave for a little over 4 hours.

My parents!

Our cold, deep water crossing.

Bat Colony

It wouldn't be a birthday celebration without an ice cream cake!

Our group (Shelby, Logan, Stephanie, Jenny, Steven, plus my parents who were taking the photos)

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