July 23 – Hardins Cave Adventure
Hardins Cave Participants: Rob Stewart, Cody Stewart, Jodi Lindsey, Brian Han, Matthew Mudden, Lorin Purser, David Frasier, Hatch, and me. We met at the Waffle House at White Bridge and I-40W and caravanned over to Hardins Cave over on Ashland City Highway.
We all got ready and made our way down to the cave. We listened as Hatch gave a brief history of the cave and explained why it is also known as “Junkyard Cave”
This is Rob and his son Cody listening. This is Cody’s first cave. We all scaled down and entered the cave, and through the gate. To avoid a “Swirl Canyon Repeat” Hatch placed the key in a strategic place by the gate. And we moved onward. While everyone scaled upwards, Rob Stewart and I decided to take the water passage. Although we missed the initial hole that we were supposed to come up, we eventually figured out that we missed it somewhere… and David Frasier was waiting for us and made sure we saw it on our backtracking trip. This is a view of a passage with the reflective tape of Brian Han’s cave bag showing up in the distance.
We were told that this cave doesn’t really have a lot of beautiful formations, but it did have nice fossils. Here, you can see some being pointed out by Jodi Lindsey.
David Frasier was nice enough to point to one for me for scale. For those of you who do not know what a crinoids is, here is a diagram from the Museum of Natural History.
When you see these fossils with your own eyes, it will help you visualize.
If you are patient enough, and “stop to smell the roses” you will see that the ceiling is literally covered with fossils.
We followed Hatch through the cave, and made our way up to the registry.
In this photo, you can see Brian Han, Jodi Lindsey, and Cody Stewart move across the terrain to the registry. Up there, we mixed resting and taking in the scenery.
In this photo, you can see Hatch, Jodi Lindsey and Brian Han taking in a formation at the registry. And here are a few photos of people resting:
This is the couple of Lorin Purser and Matthew Mudden. I understood that this was just his second cave.
And panning to the left is Cody Stewart, thoroughly enjoying his first cave.
And of course my caving buddy David Frasier. As we were sitting there, somehow Cave Monsters come into the conversation. Remember this for later. We moved out heading on to the Golden Fleece. Below, you can see Brian Han, Lorin Purser, Matthew Mudden and Hatch scaling upwards.
This is where the group split up. Part of the group uninterested in seeing the Golden Fleece waited here, while the rest of us went to the Golden Fleece Room. Once you shimmy through a small crawl, there is a rope permanently attached for cavers to use to climb down to the floor of the Golden Fleece Room. You can see our progress:
This is Brian Han making his way down with Matthew Mudden and David Frasier waiting patiently for their turn.
Matthew then maneuvers himself into position to climb down as well, while David Frasier watches on.
As you round the corner, you see a very prominent formation, known as the Golden Fleece, stick out on a wall.
While the Fleece has suffered some damage due to vandalism, it is still an awesome sight, especially to cavers that have not had the opportunity to see very many things.
There were a few little holes beneath the Fleece that had Jodi Lindsey intrigued. We were told that during the winter, someone had peered into those holes and there was a little bat in each peering back out.
This is a view looking up at the ceiling in the Fleece Room. Unfortunately, I don’t think that it really does it justice, but it is still a beautiful photo.
We continue passed the Fleece into another passage. It was kind of twisty and soon we were in a crawl through passage that had a few 5 foot pits. Then we came to a low crawl portion. Brian Han and Jodi Lindsey were back a ways taking photos of some formations, and David Frasier and Matthew Mudden hung back while Rob Stewart and I checked out the low crawl passage. We came to another 5 foot pit that had the low crawl on the other side.
The entire left side of this low crawl was encrusted with little crystals. This passage soon got a little too tight for me to pass, so we back tracked. When we got back to that last pit, I noticed a stream passage and wondered if it went all the way back. So Rob Stewart went back the way we came and I went the stream passage. I came to an upward hole and saw a boot dangling over it. Almost had him believing in those cave monsters!!! Okay, so maybe I’m not an angel. I grabbed it and boy did David Frasier make a noise (laughs)!!! We gathered everyone as we backtracked and climbed back up to rope and on back to the rest of the group. Lorin Purser stayed at this point, and the rest of us walked further into the cave, finding the rope climb up (which we didn’t do). Hatch told us about the previous “adventures” at that point in the cave, and let us in on some history about the E2 of this cave. We started walking further towards it. We got to breakdown, and Rob Stewart and I were the only ones to come through until Hatch came through wondering what we were doing. But by now, most of you know me… if there is a hole, I’m going to check it out! So I’m going to let you in on a funny on me in this cave. As I was walking back passed the breakdown, I noticed a lot more leaf litter and such. As I stepped up, there was a HUGE toad that moved just as I stepped. Scared the heck outta me! (laughs)
This breakdown was simply awesome.
Here, I’m using Hatch at Rob Stewart for scale.
Since the general vote of the crowd was that they were tired and done for the night, we all turned back and headed on back to the entrance, and to pick up Lorin Purser along the way.
And this is a reason why I love caving with the Nashville Grotto. We are always out for a good time, not to kill ourselves.
And this is Matthew Mudden listening to the “ole caving stories” (laughs) being told between David Frasier and Hatch. We had a great time, and it was a good first time trip for me. I look forward to going back to explore a few other areas. I noticed that there was a hole above the Golden Fleece and I would like to push towards E2 as well. Everyone made it out safe and sound.