A Hole In The Ground Likely Belongs To What Animal Why Do We Go Into Caves, Patrick Cave

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Why Do We Go Into Caves, Patrick Cave

On February 19, 1994, a group of co-workers from where I was currently working, along with my caving partner, John Wallace, were hiking Pettyjohn Cave, Pigeon Mountain, northeast Georgia. After finding four potential dig sites, we opened one and named it Patrick’s Cave. The next day Doug Dewitt and I went back and mapped the small cave.

The sink was huge with trees growing on the bottom as we checked around the edges Doug starting to shoot a soft spot in the center with Patrick watching. Soon we began to widen the hole in turn.

The cave consisted of two small rooms. The first room was five feet long and six feet wide. There was a narrow hole at the bottom that might be a good place to dig. The room was full of roots with dirt on top. Another smaller room five feet wide and three and a half feet high was on the north side. The level survey was 18.9 feet and the total survey was 22.8 feet. The pit at the end did not open. It most likely flows into Pettyjohn Cave, as we were directly above the cave, high up on the side of the mountain.

On February 20, 1994, we also mapped a small cave under a large rock, Sophia’s Cave, a large room with many spiders. Sophie was Doug’s other white Labrador. The back of the cave rose to a height of seven feet, full of spiders, we called it the Spider Cathedral. Another five-foot opening across the creek was driven into a low excavation where the sound of water could be heard rushing down. As curiosity takes over, we push further and further into the unknown to see if it leads, but we can’t squeeze down to the stream below.

This cave was not named, as you could not get out by daylight. This is how many caves start, curious cavers checking holes in the ground. Digging a bit, mapping what they found, and later more cavers come back to check more and dig more.

New discoveries are made in three ways. First-time visitors to a known cave, without a map, will often discover a bypassed passage near the entrance or deeper as they search for a way to proceed. Often cavers familiar with a cave will rush to the bottom, not seeing possible tracks.

Another way to discover new passages is to carefully map the cave as you go, checking and mapping all possible crawls and climbs. This is the best and most useful way.

The last and most common is to simply push and dig every possible hole that can be found. Some have even created their own caves by following a rock ledge or crevice until it eventually opens into something larger.

Biologists divide cave animals into three types: trogloxenes, troglophiles, and troglobites, or cave visitors, cave lovers, and cave prisoners.

Trogloxenes are those animals that visit the cave briefly, generally just inside the lighted entrance. Raccoons may use the entrance for a den, or snakes may stay in its coolness during the heat of the day. These are temporary residents.

Troglophiles are cave worshipers. They especially like the cool, moist and dark environment of the cave and can spend their entire lives there. However, they might as well spend their lives in some other cold, dark, damp place, like under a rock. Many species of salamanders characterize this class, including cave crickets.

Troglobites are true cave dwellers. They have evolved for this life; they cannot leave. They are usually blind, white, and the case of the fish will hide under your feet if you stand still in the water.

As a troglodyte, I always think about caves and explore them in my mind when I can’t actually go there.

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