2023 August 20 Black Fathom River Cave

Black Fathom River Cave – Trip report by Tristin Whetstine

Black Fathom River Cave
August 20th, 2023
Entry Time: 7:30 Am Exit Time: Approximately 3 pm
There were no major injuries during the trip.
We didn’t see any trash in the cave, it was clean.

BFRC had the most fauna I have ever seen in one cave. We saw at least 20 fish including carp, bluegill, 3 baby catfish, and a 2-foot long catfish. We also saw 3 cave salamanders, a few pickerel frogs, multiple tadpoles, and a 12-inch yellow eared slider turtle.

Alex Stump, Olivia Little, Nathan Hensel, and Tristin Whetstine met at the gate out front of BFRC right at 7 am. We all suited up and walked the tree line to find the entrance. Once the entrance was located Nathan proceeded to rig the rope for a rappel in black fathom pit. By 8 am, all 4 members of the party had been safely rappelled in.

As a group we decided to crawl through the Buried Alive Crawlway with hopes to reach The Auditorium. One miscalculation was made, and we left the maps at the entrance to this crawlway.

The wet clay floor made for this crawlway to be a nice slip-n-slide on your stomach the whole way. We were moving so fast through the crawlway that we completely missed the Auditorium Room and entered the Pillars of Hercules room fairly quickly. Continuing downstream we made it to the Base Camp Room by around 11 am.

Trying to locate the fastest way back to the maps, we headed through the Giant Column Forest but came to a halt as there was nowhere to go. (Turns out after locating the maps we ran into the wet weather sump pool past the Upper Paleo).

We turned back and headed to the basecamp room. We went back through the Lower Stream and into the Pillars of Hercules room. We decided to walk the main passage back to the bag, sitting at the entrance of Buried Alive Crawlway.

Olivia had bumped her knee and decided to ascend the rope. Alex, Nathan, and I decided to continue up stream to The Waterfall Junction. After swimming around the pools near The Waterfall Junction we were ready to head back towards the main pit. Approximately near the 516.6 point, at the beginning of The Four Horsemen I almost stepped on what is believed to be an Eastern Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum). I am still not 100% sure about that. This is the original picture of the Salamander.   More information about this species is at Outdoor Alabama.

Everyone Ascended the rope safely and exited the cave by 3:00 Pm.

Tristin Whetstine

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