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View Full Version : Pettyjohns cave 'incident"



caverspencer
12-08-2005, 10:13 AM
Thought you guys might enjoy this:

----

Hello, I am writing to tell you of an experience that happened to my
friend and I last Saturday, December 3-4th. It was extremely scary and
we are very fortunate to have survived it. I hope you enjoy reading
about it and you can feel free to post it if you want, just please
exclude our last names from the post.

We entered Pettyjohns cave at 3pm Saturday, with headlamps, a bottle of
water each, and no food. We were not planning on being long, only about
2 hours or so, and we had been in the cave before. We were trying to go
to the main waterfall, the one where most people go to.
We had been down there before, and we thought we knew the way.

We progressed down the stream tunnel towards the main waterfall. We
made
it to the waterfall, and that's where we ran into trouble. We had to
find our way back. We were pretty familiar with this area though, so it
wasn't that bad. We took the Z-Bend, which I had never taken, but my
friend had. He said that it's another way to get to the waterfall.
After
that, we got lost.

We kept trying to follow the arrows, thinking that they would lead to
the entrance. The arrows kept changing colors and directions, though,
making them almost impossible to figure out. We would go into a large
room, trying to find the way we came from, find a passage, follow it,
and then about 30 minutes later end up in the same exact cavern. We
kept
running across places we had been before multiple times. We found a
spray painted part saying "Don't smoke weed in the cave" and we also
saw
"US Soldier" spray painted on the wall, I believe.

I'm going to try to describe the part we got lost in, in as much detail
as I can.

We ended up in a huge cavern where there were MANY ways to go. There
was
a very small hole that didn't even look like a passage at all. It was
shaped like a triangle, and you had to squeeze to get in it. Once you
got in, in front of you was a white arrow and a circle, pointing down.
There was a way to go on the right, a way on the left, and the
previously mentioned white arrow. There was also an orange arrow
pointing a different way. After following the white arrow, we had to
get
on our hands and knees and crawl for about 3 minutes. We ended up in a
huge room with 3 huge formations. There were large obstacles you had to
go over, and a cliff on the other side. On one side, there was about a
10 foot drop into a small creek passage. I fell into this by accident.
A
little bit down the creek, there was a huge rope, about 40 feet high.
Downstream from that was a small waterfall with a rope next to it and
ways to go up there. By this time, we were exhausted, dehydrated, and
thirsty. We started drinking the water from the waterfall to get
hydration and energy.

Now we had to find our way out. We couldn't stray from the waterfall
too
much, because it was our "safe place" where we could get hydration. We
didn't want to get going in the wrong direction, either, because the
cave is over 7 miles long. That's only the explored passageways,
though.
We kept following passages that we thought we took and we kept ending
up
in the same couple of spots. We kept coming up to a place where it
looked like a pancake squeeze all around, but there was NOWHERE to go.
We went back to that nasty mud area...the "bigger, muddier" pancake
squeeze. It took us 3-5 minutes of crawling on our hands and knees just
to get through the damn thing. It was extremely muddy, too. We kept
going until we reached the dreaded "white arrow room". We kept ending
up
in that one big cavern, where there was nowhere to go. We kept trying
to
find passageways to go up, because we were trying to get to the ground
level, and we really didn't want to go farther into the cave.

We kept staying close to the waterfall, because we figured if anyone
comes down here, they'd probably end up at the waterfall. We had to
keep
moving, though, to keep our blood flowing. It was freezing cold, and
the
roof was "raining" on us. Apparently it was raining pretty badly
outside
the cave. We kept wandering and wandering, making sure we weren't
staying too far from the waterfall, so we wouldn't get even more lost.

We slept near the waterfall, and when I turned off my headlight, I saw
lots of hallucinations and images. It was really crazy, and I guess
that's what happens when you've been staring at the light for over 20
hours.

Sometime the next morning, when we had been wandering, crawling,
climbing, and looking for the exit, we heard voices. At first, we
thought we were hallucinating, but then we both started yelling as loud
as we could. The voices got closer, and we eventually saw a light. We
were so relieved and happy to be alive.

Apparently, we had made our way onto a huge cliff and we were on the
wrong side of it. We were about a football field away from the other
side. To get to the other side, we had to crawl halfway on a ledge as
wide as a coffee table. We were about 40-60 feet up, and we had to
cross
this area on a small bridge about the same width. Once we got to the
other side, we crawled on our hands and knees over to the muddy, steep
hill on the side of the cliff. There was a rope on the other side, and
we had to make our way down that muddy hill diagonally, making sure not
to lose our balance or our foothold. Once we made it to the rope, we
had
to descend about 40 feet to the ground.

Once on the ground, we introduced ourselves and told them about our
situation. There was a good group of cavers, from the Dogwood City
Grotto. The two leading the group, Chuck, and Pete (I believe) were the
most helpful. After that long of a journey, they helped us find our way
back to the pancake squeeze and into the main entrance room.
They made sure we were alright after we got out of the cave. We really
owe our appreciation and thanks to those two members of the Dogwood
City
Grotto. Without them or their love of caves, we would not have found
our
way out, and we would have been another accident statistic on the
charts. We are extremely fortunate for their help, and we can't even
put
into words how much gratitude, appreciation, and respect we have for
those people.

I forgot to mention that when we came out, we checked the time, and it
was 3pm Sunday. We entered the cave on 3pm Saturday, which means we
were
stuck in there for a full 24 hours.

We owe our lives to them.

Sombeech
12-08-2005, 08:43 PM
:dropmouth:

accadacca
12-08-2005, 09:35 PM
That sounds awful. :eek2:

jwoo39072
04-22-2015, 01:20 AM
Just wondering, you didn't mention whether or not you had filled out the Cave User Registration Form as required by DNR prior to entering the cave. If so, there had been no real need to panic. The registration cards are checked frequently and any person or persons who have not yet to exit the cave according to the time listed on the card would be addressed accordingly. I have lived here my whole life and can proudly say that our DNR is exceptional at providing safety for any of the many recreational users that Pigeon Mtn and its many attractions see every year. So, follow directions and enjoy your trip. No need to worry. You will not be overlooked and most certainly not forgotten.

Thought you guys might enjoy this:

----

Hello, I am writing to tell you of an experience that happened to my
friend and I last Saturday, December 3-4th. It was extremely scary and
we are very fortunate to have survived it. I hope you enjoy reading
about it and you can feel free to post it if you want, just please
exclude our last names from the post.

We entered Pettyjohns cave at 3pm Saturday, with headlamps, a bottle of
water each, and no food. We were not planning on being long, only about
2 hours or so, and we had been in the cave before. We were trying to go
to the main waterfall, the one where most people go to.
We had been down there before, and we thought we knew the way.

We progressed down the stream tunnel towards the main waterfall. We
made
it to the waterfall, and that's where we ran into trouble. We had to
find our way back. We were pretty familiar with this area though, so it
wasn't that bad. We took the Z-Bend, which I had never taken, but my
friend had. He said that it's another way to get to the waterfall.
After
that, we got lost.

We kept trying to follow the arrows, thinking that they would lead to
the entrance. The arrows kept changing colors and directions, though,
making them almost impossible to figure out. We would go into a large
room, trying to find the way we came from, find a passage, follow it,
and then about 30 minutes later end up in the same exact cavern. We
kept
running across places we had been before multiple times. We found a
spray painted part saying "Don't smoke weed in the cave" and we also
saw
"US Soldier" spray painted on the wall, I believe.

I'm going to try to describe the part we got lost in, in as much detail
as I can.

We ended up in a huge cavern where there were MANY ways to go. There
was
a very small hole that didn't even look like a passage at all. It was
shaped like a triangle, and you had to squeeze to get in it. Once you
got in, in front of you was a white arrow and a circle, pointing down.
There was a way to go on the right, a way on the left, and the
previously mentioned white arrow. There was also an orange arrow
pointing a different way. After following the white arrow, we had to
get
on our hands and knees and crawl for about 3 minutes. We ended up in a
huge room with 3 huge formations. There were large obstacles you had to
go over, and a cliff on the other side. On one side, there was about a
10 foot drop into a small creek passage. I fell into this by accident.
A
little bit down the creek, there was a huge rope, about 40 feet high.
Downstream from that was a small waterfall with a rope next to it and
ways to go up there. By this time, we were exhausted, dehydrated, and
thirsty. We started drinking the water from the waterfall to get
hydration and energy.

Now we had to find our way out. We couldn't stray from the waterfall
too
much, because it was our "safe place" where we could get hydration. We
didn't want to get going in the wrong direction, either, because the
cave is over 7 miles long. That's only the explored passageways,
though.
We kept following passages that we thought we took and we kept ending
up
in the same couple of spots. We kept coming up to a place where it
looked like a pancake squeeze all around, but there was NOWHERE to go.
We went back to that nasty mud area...the "bigger, muddier" pancake
squeeze. It took us 3-5 minutes of crawling on our hands and knees just
to get through the damn thing. It was extremely muddy, too. We kept
going until we reached the dreaded "white arrow room". We kept ending
up
in that one big cavern, where there was nowhere to go. We kept trying
to
find passageways to go up, because we were trying to get to the ground
level, and we really didn't want to go farther into the cave.

We kept staying close to the waterfall, because we figured if anyone
comes down here, they'd probably end up at the waterfall. We had to
keep
moving, though, to keep our blood flowing. It was freezing cold, and
the
roof was "raining" on us. Apparently it was raining pretty badly
outside
the cave. We kept wandering and wandering, making sure we weren't
staying too far from the waterfall, so we wouldn't get even more lost.

We slept near the waterfall, and when I turned off my headlight, I saw
lots of hallucinations and images. It was really crazy, and I guess
that's what happens when you've been staring at the light for over 20
hours.

Sometime the next morning, when we had been wandering, crawling,
climbing, and looking for the exit, we heard voices. At first, we
thought we were hallucinating, but then we both started yelling as loud
as we could. The voices got closer, and we eventually saw a light. We
were so relieved and happy to be alive.

Apparently, we had made our way onto a huge cliff and we were on the
wrong side of it. We were about a football field away from the other
side. To get to the other side, we had to crawl halfway on a ledge as
wide as a coffee table. We were about 40-60 feet up, and we had to
cross
this area on a small bridge about the same width. Once we got to the
other side, we crawled on our hands and knees over to the muddy, steep
hill on the side of the cliff. There was a rope on the other side, and
we had to make our way down that muddy hill diagonally, making sure not
to lose our balance or our foothold. Once we made it to the rope, we
had
to descend about 40 feet to the ground.

Once on the ground, we introduced ourselves and told them about our
situation. There was a good group of cavers, from the Dogwood City
Grotto. The two leading the group, Chuck, and Pete (I believe) were the
most helpful. After that long of a journey, they helped us find our way
back to the pancake squeeze and into the main entrance room.
They made sure we were alright after we got out of the cave. We really
owe our appreciation and thanks to those two members of the Dogwood
City
Grotto. Without them or their love of caves, we would not have found
our
way out, and we would have been another accident statistic on the
charts. We are extremely fortunate for their help, and we can't even
put
into words how much gratitude, appreciation, and respect we have for
those people.

I forgot to mention that when we came out, we checked the time, and it
was 3pm Sunday. We entered the cave on 3pm Saturday, which means we
were
stuck in there for a full 24 hours.

We owe our lives to them.