Survey the Queen's Chamber

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Survey the Queen's Chamber
Location Carlsbad Caverns, Queen's Chamber
Author William Tucker
Date March 12-13, 2011

Tammy and I were pleased to receive an invitation to go back to Carlsbad Caverns for some survey work. Scott House along with Ed Klausner were traveling to the Caverns and they wanted some help. So, on Friday, March 11, Tammy and I drove to CCNP and moved into the larger research hut. We arrived to find Scott, Ed and Stan Allison enjoying the evening and we joined them.

Early on Saturday, after some delicious waffles (thanks Tammy), we hiked down the natural entrance trail unlocking the gates as we went. We started the survey at the upper Queen's Chamber gate. Tammy took all of the survey shots, both foresights and backsights with a single set of instruments. I was assigned to read tape and hold light on station (grueling, I know). Ed dutifully set stations and recorded the survey data. Scott sketched.

Scott, Ed and Stan had decided to resurvey the Queen's Chamber because after investigating some bad loops and attempting to correct them, they found the sketches to be wildly off. In some cases, the trail is shown to be turning to the right when it actually turns to the left. So, it was decided to start over.

I was very impressed with the way Scott and Ed worked together. It is obvious that they have worked together many times before. Ed was always prepared to answer questions from Scott about the data, sometimes almost before he was asked. And, Scott's sketches were beautiful -- easily the best I have ever seen. I took the opportunity to watch Scott as he sketched in an effort to improve my own sketching ability and I learned a lot. I am anxious to try out what I learned.

Scott works differently than Tammy and I are used to but we had only minor troubles adapting. I had to learn to not reel in the tape until Scott was finished with it. Tammy and I are used to much shorter shots in much tighter spaces.

We made a large loop along the trail through the Chamber then tied the other gate to a brass survey marker. At the end of the day, we completed the loop by tieing the two gates together with a couple of shots. These shots were easily the most difficult shots of the day as the guests on the main trail made finding an unimpeded line of sight a difficult affair. We took the time to explain what we were doing to the guests and rangers and to show the skethes and instruments to many of them and this seemed to be appreciated.

When we were pleased with the work, we concluded by hiking back out the natural entrance to the hut where the data was digitized and analyzed and determined to be quite good. Stan joined us again for an enchilada supper (Thanks again, Tammy) and some very pleasant caving conversation.

There was a young German girl named Micah (sp?) staying in the other hut doing airflow studies. We disturbed her to retrieve a collection of maps to begin a much needed inventory. We also gave her some of our unused food items when we left. She did not know what to do with the canned hominy and canned tomitillos. I am not sure I know what to do with tomitillos, so I don't think I was much help. There were many more maps than any of us expected and we only succeeded in inventorying a portion of them on Sunday after Scott and Ed left. More work to do here.

Thanks to Scott and Ed for inviting us, and thanks to Stan for allowing us to come and work in such a beautiful cave.