The first few days of this Cavecation were already pretty amazing. The fourth day, in particular, had something exciting in store. Weeks before the trip, Peter put up a video of a new cave in the jungle near Puerto Aventuras.
The entrance was a low crawl in the water, but lots of moving air which is always a good sign because a cave will move air when there is a temperature/pressure difference between the inside and outside. In general the larger the cave, the greater volume of air it will move. After the taco stand breakfast, four of us headed over to the edge of town to start working on this new cave. After passing through the local trash dump we started into the jungle, passing a few known entrances to Sistema Vivero.
Soon the trail ended and we had to chop a new one: never fun work in the buggy heat. Once we reached the entrance we split up the survey teams. Mike Futrell and Alice Jaworski attempted to connect this new Timor cave to Sistema Vivero while Peter and I headed in the opposite direction.
As we arrived at the entrance we saw an active ant nest and to my surprise some jaguar paw prints in the water! Starting the survey from the entrance, we soon made it through the water crawl to larger passage. Lots of tree roots hung down, and lots of that awful calcite sand filled my boots.
After a couple times cleaning out the boots, I decided to go barefoot the rest of the trip. Barefoot caving turned out not to be a problem for the most part. Soon the passage branched off in multiple directions, we took a right turn into a wide lake chamber & surveyed around the perimeter.
Working in here was tricky as I had to swim around looking for good survey stations to set while keeping the laser disto out of the water. The Disto is a 3 in 1 laser device that gets distance, compass bearing, and inclination all at once. The equipment is rather expensive, but not waterproof. Luckily every good spot to shoot from was also standing depth.
The water here was still enough that thick layers of calcite rafts formed on the surface, getting caught in my beard while swimming. We only mapped about half the room since the other team was already there first. All that was needed was for us to tie our survey into theirs.
Once this room was done, we mapped through two different parallel crawlways into another lake room. This one only had one passage continuing off of it, leading into a mazy section with many crawls over tree roots. We dubbed this area the “Root Sewer” because any place the tree roots come into the water there’s a funky smell. Plus there’s always the fear the roots are from the Chechen tree, which gives you a rash like poison ivy, but far worse.
Not wanting to leave this area undone for a future crew, we crawled into every passable lead. Under formations, over gross smelling roots, in and out of the water, down all the dead-end pockets. Unfortunately we ran out of going passage but at least nobody had to go back into this unpleasant section of cave. We headed back towards the entrance and ran into the other team who had good news. They had successfully connected to Sistema Vivero!
Back at the entrance I walked north along the collapse to what appeared to be another entrance. After crawling around in liquid bat guano, this turned out to be nothing. Disappointed that no way further away from the coast could be found for Sistema Vivero, we began the trek back. Still a successful day though: connected a new entrance to a large known cave, added a few hundred more meters to the survey, and pushed all leads.
Dinner that night was at Mr Trompo in Puerto Aventuras, great place to eat but has absolutely nothing to do with Donald Trump. A Trompo is a large beehive-shaped piece of meat cooked on a rotating spit, as the outside cooks it is shaved off & served at the restaurant, then the next layer starts cooking. After dinner we made a stop at the Super Chedraui market to buy some supplies for the big camp trip into Jaguar Cave….