Hell Below, July, 2013

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Hell Below

The group

Location High Guads
Author William Tucker
Date July 20, 2013
Hell Below medallion
Derek Rice on rappel

On the weekend of July, 20-21, 2013, six cavers gathered on 3-Mile Hill for a weekend of caving. Michael White, Tammy Tucker, the new guy Derek Rice, Lee Ann Dean, Joseph Patterson and William Tucker were all anxious to see Hell Below.

Everyone arrived safely at Texas Camp even though we had been warned of possible mud from recent, heavy rains. The roads were not too bad but the obvious mud holes were there. The worst one on the way to Texas Camp is immediately before arriving. Joseph got stuck for a while but was able to rock his truck and made it safely through. The rest were able to crawl through in 4-wheel drive mode.

On Saturday morning, after a crisp and very pleasant night, we gathered, signed the permit and loaded into Derek's new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited for the drive to Hell Below. This was Derek's first time to cross the dragon's teeth and I had already warned him about it and the mud hole on the other side of the gate; but, he was insistent upon driving. Tammy and I walked.

At the Hell Below parking area, we gathered our gear and headed for the cave. I had quite a load with rope, camera, vertical gear and caving pack; but, we made it with ease. After rigging, with Joseph's help, we each dropped to the main level of the cave one at a time.

After everone had arrived safely at the main level, I tied a clove hitch around a knob using the remaining rope to negotiate the next little nusiance drop. After arriving there, we set out to explore the cave.

We proceeded slowly along the trail observing and photographing the sights. We stopped at lunch rock to eat before proceeding on to the lake room.

At the lake room, we donned our aqua sox at the appropriate place and spent quite a bit of time photographing, observing and being awed by that gorgeous room.

We took a moment to observe the olympic pool through the holes in the breakdown then returned carefully along the ledge back to lunch rock.

There, we took small groups without packs along the other ledge to the gyp joint where copius oohs and aahs were exclaimed and numerous photographs were taken.

When everyone was satisfied, we started back toward the rope then, one at a time, ascended and climbed back to the surface. I was the last to ascend with Joseph and Michael waiting to help me derig and stuff the rope.

When we were all safe on the surface, we took a group photo and returned to camp. Joseph and Michael chose to walk.

Back at camp, and after a satisfying meal, I took photos of some interesting cloud formations with the evening sun and a faint rainbow from a nearby storm. It was a very good visit to a beautiful cave with great friends -- just as a caving trip to the high guads should be.

The next day, Michael, Joseph and Lee Ann left leaving the rest to visit Black.