Picking Paint in Parallel Passage

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Picking Paint in Parallel Passage
Location Cottonwood, 2nd Parallel
Author William Tucker
Date Saturday, August 28, 2010

On Saturday, August 28, 2010, I, William Tucker along with Lee Ann Dean and Garrett Jorgensen were given three tasks to perform in the 2nd Parallel Passage of Cottonwood Cave. We were to change the locks; remove restoration gear that had been left in or near the Coke Table Room and begin removal of spilled paint from the flowstone south of the gate. We had been attending the High Guads Restoration Project event and Tammy and I had camped on 3 Mile Hill.

We left Texas Camp at 10:30 AM and drove to the lookout tower. After picking up someone's lost $10 bill from the parking lot, we walked to Cottonwood. I noted that the main passage in Cottonwood was wet and there were a large number of swallows. The rimstone dams across from the cave register were full. We made our way to 2nd Parallel without incident. The lock on the inner, square gate of 2nd Parallel was in the hasp but it was not latched. The lock was a bit rusty, wet and hard to operate which probably accounts for the mistake.

After arriving in 2nd Parallel, we dropped the resto gear that we were carrying and proceeded to the Coke Table Room to retrieve the gear that was there. We stopped along the trail in a couple of places for photographs. Being the wrong time of year, there were only a few places with significant gypsum hairs and needles. At the Coke Table Room, we retrieved: 3 brushes, 2 buckets, 2 large pressure sprayers, 2 spray bottles, a camera tripod and a collapsible aluminum pole. We took these items to the square gate, dropped them and picked up our resto gear for the trip south.

Spilled paint and the tool used to remove it

After arriving at our assigned resto site, I took a number of photographs of the spilled paint on the flowstone. It is bright pink in color, long dried and drizzled over the flowstone in long tangled lines with a few drips here and there.

We spent several hours learning how best to remove this paint from the flowstone. A razor blade scraper with careful picking action and dental instruments were the most effective. We did note that the paint was much more difficult to remove in a few places particularly from the wet flowstone. We were very careful to gather and remove all paint chips with a small broom and dust pan and gathered at least a pint of paint chips which were removed from the cave.

At about 6:00 PM, I called a halt to the work to clean up, take some after photographs and pack for the trip back to camp.

In all, we succeeded at removing about half of the spilled paint from this area. I would estimate that there is at least 1 or 2 more days of work to completely remove the remaining paint.

After packing, we headed out of the cave and changed the locks as we exited. The old locks were replaced with recycled ones from the Forest Service stockpile.

We arrived back at Texas camp with all of the old resto gear at 7:15 PM. I gave all of the retrieved resto gear, the old locks with the matching keys installed, the signed permit, the new keys, and the tail gate safety form to Jennifer Foote when she returned to camp.

In the evening, several squalls came through and drove us into our cars and the ranger hut for the evening festivities. Tammy and Cordie seemed to really enjoy roasting giant marshmallows over the L.P. gas stove and the rest of us enjoyed watching.