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Thread: Pettyjohns cave 'incident"

  1. #1

    Pettyjohns cave 'incident"

    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.

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  3. #2

  4. #3
    That sounds awful.


  5. #4

    Did you register?

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by caverspencer View Post
    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.

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