Wednesday, September 13, 2000 –
After finding the cenote yesterday, we took the afternoon to continue working on repelling and ascending. We also prepped our gear and started knotting line in anticipation of what me might find underwater. The day was topped off nicely. After dinner, listening to the waves roll in to shore, we saw a very tropical moonrise, looking out our back door across the beach and past the straw umbrellas to the ocean.
This morning began with the team heading out to the site and beginning the long and ardourous loading and staging of equipment on the trail and then transporting it down to the site, almost 30 minutes away. We had just the bare minimum of equipment, but the thick growth and precarious footing makes the going slow. It took multiple trips by all of the team and a little over an hour and a half to have everything at the edge of the crystal blue cenote. After a lot of jokes and a little breather, the two teams began to dress in the oppressive heat and humidity. It had been previously decided to split into two teams, one upstream and one downstream (this was done very scientifically by flipping a Mexican 5 Peso coin). The downsteam team consisted of Grant Graves, from Malibu, California and Karl Shreeves, from Laguna Niguel, California. The upstream team was Mark Corkery, from Moneta, Virginia, Kyle Creamer, from Roanoke, Virginia, and Terrence Tysall, from Winter Park, FLorida.
The upstream divers were in the water by 1100 and began their dive. Steve Gerrard had visited the site 5 years earlier and was the first to explore the system. We soon picked up where he left off. By the end of the dive, we had traveled through a variety of cave with many fabulous speleothems such as stalagtites, stalagmites and drapery formations. The undeserved privelege of visiting these areas for the first time is something that effected all of us, immensely. The cave also harbors an incredible array of fauna such as isopods, remipedia, and even blind cave fish! When the team broke the surface after the dive, it was with an exultant shout!
The downstream divers began their dive about 20 minutes after the upstream divers returned, due to a light problem that made it necessary for the affected diver (Karl) to say some unprintable things. Then he borrowed Terrence’s light. The team quickly descended the existing line to a “T” connection and then swung to the right into some low passage. The downstream side was darker and less decorated, but mysterious and awesome with a lot of water flowing through. They knew they were on to something. They spent about 15 minutes following some false leads in a very silty area, then as they swung back toward the way they came, spotted a promising opening. It kept its promise, turning into a phreatic tube headed in nearly a straight line due north. They followed the lead, leaving some line and turning the dive at thirds and surveyed out. They surfaced very pleased with their success.
After returning to the resort and ravenously devouring a late lunch, We were joined by another team member, Tony Lee, from Little Rock, Arkansas. The team then worked on gear and practiced survey techniques on the beach. Tune in tomorrow and see what we find . . .
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