Lodgepole survey

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Lodgepole survey
Location Lodgepole cave
Author William Tucker
Date March 26, 2011

While a few LAG members were busy picking lint at Carlsbad Caverns, Tammy and I were in the High Guads with the High Guads Restoration Project. On Saturday, we were assigned to a survey and inventory team at Lodgepole cave. On Sunday I was at Little Beauty and Black.

On Saturday, March 26, Tammy and I along with Vi Schweiker, Ted Lappin and Sam Bensonhauer formed a team to survey and inventory the rarely visited Lodgepole cave. We started from Texas Camp and drove as far as we could. From there, we hiked following a step log that the Forest Service gave us. We stopped for a moment to examine the entrances of a couple of other caves that we passed along the way. The last step of the step log says to go to the edge of the cliff and look down into the canyon to see the cave entrance 250 feet below. At first, we didn't see it and it took a little bit of convincing to be sure we were in the right place. Finally, Ted saw it. Yep, there it was. Now, how to get down there?

It took us several hours of climbing to negotiate the several cliffs and the steep scree slopes leading to certain death in the canyon above the cave. Luckily the cave was not in the bottom of the canyon which was some 800 feet below with at least one very daunting cliff. Sam got some serious cactus thorns in his hand and he and Vi stopped for an emergency surgery session. The rest of us waited for them at the first entrance.

After determining that the first entrance was an undercut flowstone ledge, we climbed around to the second entrance and rigged a hand-line to enter the cave. We spent the rest of the afternoon surveying. Vi did an excellent job with inventory and Sam helped and flagged sensitive formations on the floor. Tammy did lead and backsites. Ted did instruments and disto. I sketched. In all we shot 196 feet of survey (8 shots) with mostly splay shots and the sketch came out good. The lodgepole pine which is propped in the second entrance features prominently.

It is an interesting cave with pink flowstone and an historic Nymeyer signature from 1940. We also noted footprints from a cloven hooved animal like a goat or deer in the dirt at the back of the cave.

After a a few hours of survey, we proceeded to climb back up the cliffs. We did not want to chance trying to get out of that canyon in the dark. We met one of the other teams along the trail and waited with them at the cars for the third team who did not arrive before we left at dark. When we got back to camp, it was very windy so we went to the Forest Service Ranger hut to enjoy the evening meal with everyone else. The third team arrived a short time later.

I took time in the hut before eating to complete all of the paperwork for the trip. It was a great day of surveying -- a little bit rushed; but, overall, we did well. Thanks to Sam, Vi, Ted and Tammy for their efforts. And, thanks to the Forest Service and HGRP for a fun and productive trip.


  • For an account of Robert Nymeyer's first visit to this cave, see Nymeyer, Robert (1978) Carlsbad, Caves, and a Camera Zephyrus Press, Inc. Teaneck, NJ. pp 133-136, 264-265 ISBN-13: 978-0-939748-36-5, ISBN-10: 0-939748-36-3