Ted the Caver
It's time for another one of Cayla's favorite internet legends!
In March 2001 a blog appeared on an Angelfire website, which if you don't remember or are too young to know what that is, Angelfire was one of a plethora of websites were you could build your own webpage on like Geocities or Tripod. I guess the closest thing these days is Square Space or Wix, except you had to do all your html and website formatting yourself
The blog opens with a brief introduction by the author, Ted who is a caver, who explains that he and a friend have been exploring a virgin cave and he decided to put the website together to keep their friends and families up to date on their continued exploration
I am going to tell you this story, but I will be summarizing some parts for length. But the whole story is still online can be found out angelfire.com/trek/caver a link will be in our show notes and I highly recommend reading the whole thing if you end up enjoying the summarized version
I am going to warn you that some of this will include descriptions of very claustrophobic scenarios
Ted the Caver
March 23 2001
Due to the overwhelming number of requests I have received to tell about my discoveries and bizarre experiences in a cave not far from my home, I have created this web page. I will outline the events that happened to me during the past few months. Beginning with my journey into a familiar cave in December 2000 and ending... well, it hasn't actually ended yet. I will use my caving journal as the text to tell about my recent experience. I will give them to you as I experienced them, in chronological order. [...]
I will NOT reveal the location of the cave to ANYONE for ANY REASON! So please don't ask! I refuse to be held accountable for anyone's life but my own. I will refer to the cave as Mystery Cave. That is NOT its real name.
If you think these events sound far-fetched, I agree. I would come to the same conclusion had I not experienced them.
Ted goes on to explain that the bulk of the text featured comes from his caving journal that he has transcribed and has added some additional commentary and context after the fact
December 30 2000
B and I decided to get in one more caving trip before the New Year, so we set our sights on Mystery Cave. Not a spectacular cave, but since neither of us had been caving in awhile it would be nice to go to any cave. There was a bit of excitement to this trip. There was a small passage in the lower portion of the cave that I wanted to check out to see if it was possible to get past it. It had a small opening, but lots of air blowing out of it. Even though it is way too small to climb through, I had never even checked to see what was inside the passage
Ted says a common caver saying is "if it blows, it goes" meaning that if you feel wind come from a crack or hole in a cave that means there's probably something worth checking out on the other side, which is why investigating this hole had them interested
We got our gear loaded up and hit the road by 3:00 p.m. We got to the cave in great time, since B likes to drive fast. We anchored from the usual tree and began to rappel into the cave. I went down first and got my gear together while B came down.
Ted explains that he has caved with B many times and B was injured in a caving accident a couple years prior where they thought he would never walk again, but with sheer determination B could not just walk, but he could still cave. He wasn't as fast or as nimble as he once was, but he could get around just fine.
The hole is located deep in the cave and is positioned about 3 feet from the cave floor
With his flashlight, Ted is able to look inside the hole and see that the wall around the hole was only about 3-5 inches thick. Past that was tight passage that went back about 10-12 feet before it seemed to really open up. This excited B and Ted as this could actually be a virgin passage, a place no other human has ever been, something all cavers lived for
I named the passage Floyd's Tomb, after Floyd Collins. It seemed to look like the tight spot where Floyd spent his last miserable days on earth.
Floyd Collins was a caver back in the early 1900's. He got stuck in a tight crawl space and was unable to free himself. It is an amazing story that is detailed in a book called, "Trapped: The Story of Floyd Collins" [by Roger Brucker]. Calling our passage Floyd's Tomb was not only a tribute to Floyd, but a commentary of the size of the passage.
Ted and B took a seat and determined their plan of attack. They knew it would be a lot of work, but they had no doubt that they could do it.
While we sat there in the darkness we could hear the wind howling from the other side of the passage. It was a low, eerie noise. We could also hear a low rumble from time to time. No big deal, though. The cave is in the vicinity of a highway that has heavy trucks drive on it. We figured the rumble was the effect of the trucks resonating through the rocks.
They decided that hauling in a cordless drill, some bullpins and sledge hammer would probably be the easiest way to break through. With a plan in mind the men left the cave excited for their eventual return
Nearly a month would pass before they were able to return on January 27th 2001. Getting all the tools down into the cave was tricky, but once they did they went right to work, taking shifts. They had managed to borrow a DeWalt cordless drill from a friend and had bought some masonry bits for drilling into the cave wall.
The routine went like this:
To begin work we had to get down on our knees and do our best to avoid smacking our heads on the ceiling. Working in this awkward position we would drill into the wall around the hole. That was difficult work. We really had to push on the drill, and it was still slow progress. Then we inserted the bullpin into the hole and hammered on it until the rock broke up. Then we would repeat the process. To give you an idea of how slow it went, the typical size rock that would break off was about fingernail size. If we broke off a large piece (about 1/3 the size of my palm) it was cause for celebration.
Even though we spent many hours and several trips working on the hole we never did find a better technique for widening the hole. The drill/bullpin/hammer got the best results for our efforts. We came up with some crazy ideas for breaking up the rock. Everything from TNT (never seriously considered) to hauling a generator to the mouth of the cave and running an extension cord down to a jack hammer. We even thought about using liquid nitrogen to freeze the rock and make it more brittle!
They quickly found that their limiting factor would be battery power, with each battery lasting about 3 hours and they only had two, so when the last died they took a seat to rest before they would have to climb back out of the cave
We could tell that we had done some work in the cave, but it was not much. For the first time since we got in the cave we sat back both of us took a break. It was nice to check out the results of our hard work. Then we noticed the howling again. It seemed to be a little louder than the last time we were there. We just figured the wind was blowing a little stronger outside. What we could not figure out was the rumbling. It, too, seemed to be louder, and more frequent. This time we could not attribute the noise to trucks. The road that the trucks drove on was not very busy to begin with. At that time of night it should be dead. Yet the rumbling continued. It seemed to be coming from deep within the passage. B said he would ask some veteran cavers what could be causing the noise.
They left some of their tools behind and found a room in a nearby motel so they could go back to work the next day, which was much the same
At this point Ted adds a new entry where he goes into a little more detail about the cave itself and the experience of caving, for context. Ted goes into a fair amount of detail here, I am going to try and cut down, but still leave you enough to get a better idea of the cave itself and Ted's level of knowledge
The cave was "discovered" several decades ago when construction in the area unearthed its entrance. From that time to the present it has been visited by mostly locals in the area and avid cavers in the region. Beer cans can be found intermittently in the cave, mostly in the upper half. When the cave was first entered it was probably beautiful. Dust, graffiti, vandals, pigeons, and regular use have diminished its appeal. There are still places in the cave where small formations remain undisturbed, as a reminder of what the rest of the cave used to look like.
To enter the cave one must have a good length of rope, in order to rappel down into the rock. A nearby tree serves as a good anchor point. Once the rope is tied to the tree, about 20 feet away from a small cliff, it can be tossed over the edge of the cliff to a small ledge 15 feet below. Cavers can then descend the short distance to the entrance. Once inside the cave artificial light must be used. [...]
Safe caving calls for at least two sources of backup lighting. For my backup lighting I have a mini-mag light mounted to my helmet, and another helmet mounted light in my pack (which I always carry with me). I also have glo-sticks that I carry with me. These are not considered good sources of back-up light, by some, but they are good to use for taking lunch breaks. And they COULD be used to get out of a cave if the other sources fail.
The temperature is stable year-round. It feels cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. We have gone in on freezing days, and 10 feet into the cave it is warm enough that coats are not needed. It is a good temperature to work in, as we learned.
He explains there is another short climb over some large rocks before another pit is encounter and the caver has to drop another 50 feet to continue. There's a 10 ft long passage where you have to crawl and then the cave splits off in multiple directions before you can finally get to the tomb
He then goes on to explain the rest of the passage that leads to Floyd's Tomb (in short it's not an easy trek and that's BEFORE they get to this hole they're trying to make big enough to crawl through)
Ted says this is what led him to the hole in the first place, because after all that you usually have worked up quite a sweat and sitting down by the hole was relief as the breeze would cool you down
As has been my tradition for all the years I've been caving, the party reaches a point in the cave, usually at the deepest part of the cave, that all lights are extinguished. Complete blackness fills the eyes. For a moment the individual caver strains the eye muscles, focusing in and out with the expectation of catching a crumb of light somewhere in the false night. After several futile moments the caver turns his head at a sound- perhaps another caver- only to have the other senses return, and then heighten. The sounds, smells and feelings that have been overlooked to this point come racing to the caver in perfect detail. The pain of their own behind sitting on the cave floor. The smell of dust, sweat, guano. The sound of modern material shifting on age-old rock as cavers attempt to find comfort on this solid foundation. At the back of every caver's mind at this time is "What if?". What if a person HAD to climb out of the cave with no light. Would he make it? Would he find all of the turns and bends which got him to this place? If not, would a rescue party find him in time?
Ted then gets back into the work he and B were doing in the cave, explaining the arduous labor and the tiny victories. Frequently Ted thought he might be able to fit in the hole and would try only to find it too tight, which only just spurred them on, to the point they both were obsessed. During work breaks Ted and B would fantasize about what lay on the other side. The idea of an untouched passage was an exhilarating idea all on its own, but Ted could admit he wouldn't be disappointed if instead they found some sort of lost treasure
Ted updated his blog again a couple weeks later on February 10th
He and B had gone back out to do some more work on the cave, this time they took Whip, B's Jack Russel Terrier. Whip was an experienced caver, having gone on many expeditions with her master. B even had a little harness for her for rappelling her down
B also told me he talked to some caver friends of his that came up with an explanation about the rumbling noise. They thought it might be the sound of water deep within the cave. Possibly a waterfall. They couldn't really explain why the noise seemed to come and go. To me it is just one more reason to get through. So we can solve the mystery.
As they moved through the cave, Whip did as dogs do and excitedly began wandering about and sniffing, but never out of sight as she was trained to. But when the group reached the segment where the cave split off into several paths, she seemed to lose enthusiasm and began to hug close to either B or Ted and seemed to be on edge.
As we approached the short drop-off before the hole, she stopped and would only come further after we coaxed her. The hair on her back stood on end. Finally, as we got to within 20 feet of the hole she began to whimper, and hide behind B. Her tail was between her legs and she was cowering down on the ground. Strange! I have seen her square off with dogs twice her size, but now she acted as if Satan himself was lurking in the darkness. I figured there must have been animals that used the cave as a home, and Whip smelled their scent. [...]
We decided that with this new development (the nervous dog) one of us would work while the other stayed with the dog a few feet away from where we normally rested. We got right back into our routine of drilling, hammering, etc. With our extra supply of batteries we were able to really push hard on the drill and not have to worry about using up the batteries [...]
My journal goes on for a while about the progress we were making. The entire time we worked, Whip did not move. She just laid there on a rope-bag, shivering. She would whimper from time to time. One thing I didn't think about at the time was that she would not take her eyes off the hole.
They were on their fourth battery, B at the hole working away while Ted was kicking back with the dog, nearly falling asleep when B stopped working, drawing Ted's attention. B had a puzzled look on his face, then glanced back at Ted and shook his head. Ted asked him what was up
He said that he swore he just heard a strange noise emanating from the hole. He said it sounded like rock sliding on rock. Sort of a grinding sound. I assumed his ears were just ringing from the drill (he didn't wear any earplugs this trip). He assured me he heard what he said he heard. I didn't have an explanation, so I went back to dozing. B sat in the quiet of the cave for a long time before he resumed work. Also, he would stop from time to time and just listen. B is very grounded and not one to pursue some imaginary sound. I believe he heard something, but I'm not too concerned about what it was. I assume we will figure it all out once we get through the passage.
The battery lasted another hour or so and when it finally died the two stood over the hole examining their progress. Ted was getting up real close to the hole to see that his head would no easily fit, but that's when he noticed something
The wind had stopped! In all of the times I've been in the cave I have always felt the wind blowing. The last time we were out working on the cave the wind was blowing worse than ever. Even earlier we remember the breeze cooling us off. But now, nothing! B said he did not know when it stopped. The rumbling had ceased, too.
They puzzled over this for a bit, but couldn't come up with any answers and packed up and left. Whip never happier to be back above ground
Mar 3 2001
It took us three weeks before we got back out to Mystery Cave again. Our attitudes have changed a bit since we first started the project. In the beginning we looked at the whole thing as a fun adventure. Since the last trip out we found ourselves taking a more serious approach. On the drive out this time our conversation was a little more subdued than before. We hadn't talked much since the last trip (not for any reason but scheduling conflicts). Instead of discussing ways of getting through the passage, we found ourselves talking about rational explanations for what had happened. Neither one of us had any ideas that would explain the unusual occurrences we experienced on the last trip. We were amused to find out that neither one of us had talked much about the last trip to other people. That is a complete reversal from the other trips. It has been fun to report to friends and family about our progress. It is always fun to tell people about the tight squeeze we are going to have to go through to get into the passage. Most people have little desire to voluntarily subject themselves to incredibly tight places. Actually neither do I, but I will do it in order to get to the other side. Good motivation.
Naturally B didn't bring Whip this time and they noticed that the breeze was back. They went back to work and made some good progress
The hole was big enough, at least, for me to put the hammer into the hole for reference, then put the camera into the hole and take a picture of Floyd's Tomb. It is difficult get the exact feel of the Tomb, but the lowest point, near the back of the picture, is about 7 inches high. The width is about 20-24 inches. The hammer is a small 5 lb. sledge. Note the abundance of rock on the passage floor.
I was kneeling down and working the drill slowly into the wall at the time. I had my ear plugs in, my safety glasses on, and was lost in my own thoughts. Suddenly, over the squeal of the drill wearing down the rock, I heard a strange noise. It was loud. I could hear it over the noise of the drill, even though I had the ear plugs in. At first I thought it was just the drill bit doing its job on the cave. It would frequently complain by screeching and whining as we forced it into the wall. But this was different. It took me several full seconds to comprehend that this was coming from inside the hole, and not the bit. I stopped drilling and yanked my earplugs out just in time to hear the most terrible scream I have ever heard trail off and echo into the darkness of the cavern. I stared wide-eyed at the hole. For several moments I didn't move, nor did I breathe. I turned to look at B. Moments earlier he had been lying on the rope bag catching a nap. Now, he was standing upright, mouth open, with a look of concern on his face! I turned and looked into the hole again, half expecting to see a demon face staring back at me.
Nothing was different in Floyd's Tomb. I fixed my gaze on the back of the squeeze, where the limits of my light reached. There was no motion, only darkness beyond the reaches of my light. In the complete silence that followed I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. Not another sound could be heard in the cave.
[B] said to get some rocks and put them into the hole. He explained that whatever animal had made that noise might be able to get through the hole. I immediately grabbed a few rocks and hoisted them through the opening. Using the handle of the sledge hammer I slid the rocks as far back into the tunnel as I could reach, creating a wall between us and the other side. Since the squeeze is so small it didn't take long. The entire time I was doing this, however, I was thinking that the noise certainly did not come from an animal! I didn't know if B really thought it was, or if he was just trying to convince himself. I didn't say anything to him about what I thought.
After I filled the back of the passage with rocks we just sat there listening to the silence. My breathing was a lot more rapid than usual. Neither of us spoke for quite some time. Finally B suggested we get back to work, but keep an eye out for movement in the hole. We put a light in the passage that shined to the back of Floyd's Tomb. It was only at this point that we realized the wind had stopped again and the rumbling could no longer be heard. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I didn't say anything to B, nor him to me. Back to the drilling.
From the time it happened, to the writing of this journal entry (two days later) I have tried to come up with some possible source for such a noise. To describe it I would say it sounded like a cross between a man screaming in fear, and a cougar screaming in pain. It sounded like it came from the hole and was roughly 100 feet away. The horrific noise reverberated through the cave, and through my ears. B estimated the scream lasted 8-10 seconds. [...]
When the last battery died, Ted was happy to get out of the cave. They went for dinner and decided to get a motel and continue their work tomorrow. They discussed the noise, trying to think of all possible causes. While Ted was a little shaken, B seemed unperturbed and his determination gave Ted the courage to finish what they started
It's amazing what a couple good meals and a little sleep can do for someone's attitude. Even though we still had memories of the strange noise fresh in our minds, we relit our fire of enthusiasm. The other side of the passage seemed so close. We were sure this would be the day.
They made their way into the depths of the cave and got back to work, noting that the breeze was present
B was making the hammer sing with each blow. After a mere 2 or 3 minutes he let out a cheer. He turned to reveal a handful of rock that used to be attached to the cave. He was breathing heavy, but had a big smile on his face. So did I. For the time the strange noise had been forgotten, and the vision of success captured our attention.
After a couple hours they had finally made enough progress that Ted thought he might be able to fit in the hole.
I got my arms through the entrance with minor scrapes. Next came my head. By keeping it turned sideways I was able to get it in, for the most part, up to my shoulders. When I got to my shoulders I could feel the rocks touching all around my shoulders and chest. It was not stopping me, but I was definitely scraping many surfaces of my body. I decided to just push through, keeping in mind that I was going to have to come back out eventually. The pain was not too bad, and I was IN! Well, my upper body was in. At least I could get a good idea what the Tomb was going to be like.
Ted crawled deeper into the hole, with barely an inch or two all around him. The start of the hole was the bigger part and ahead he could see where it grew tighter and he wasn't sure if he'd be able to squeeze through it, but he had to try. The walls and floor of the crawl were rough, and ahead he tried to brush aside some of the loose rocks only find that they weren't loose at all and were attached to the floor
It became obvious that they would need to do some more work on removing some of the rocks and sharp edges on the passage floor, as they already were scraping at him and he wasn't even the tightest part of the tunnel yet. As Ted moved deeper into the passage, he had B tie some webbing around his feet in case he had to pull Ted out
While lying in the darkness, in a passage deep within a cave, one is in a unique position to ponder. A mountain literally resting on top of me, the entire earth lying below. One tiny movement of earth and I would cease to exist. Or worse, to recognize the fear shared by Floyd Collins as he lay there, trapped for days deep within the heart of Mother Earth, incapable of freeing himself from his earthen prison.
Picture yourself in my position: Lying on your stomach your left arm is extended over your head. Your right arm is at your side, having only a few inches in which to move. Your arms and hands are sore and bleeding from crawling/pulling yourself across the broken rocks. Your entire body is resting on the rocks. Your neck gets tire of holding your head off the rocks so you gently rest your cheek on the rock to rest. Once you start again you have to push with your toes to scoot your body forward, sliding across the rocks. After moving a few inches you are breathing hard and have to rest. As you inhale you can feel your back pressing hard against the top of the squeeze. It takes several minutes before you recover enough to press forward. The entire time you are lying there you think about how you are going to get back out. And, what if...?
Well, that's pretty much what I was going through at that point in the passage.
When I reached the point where my back was rubbing and I could feel with my head the passage was not getting bigger, I knew I was most likely not going to get through. Still, I decided to give it one more push. If I had been in this position a year ago, I would have been in a state of panic, but not today! I was pretty pumped. I took a few minutes to rest, then I went for it. I exhaled completely all of the air in my lungs. This caused my chest to collapse enough to scoot forward a few inches. Because it takes so much effort to scoot I only went a few inches before I had to stop and breathe. As I inhaled, my chest pressed hard against the floor and my back against the top. It took a little longer to get my breath back. Unbelievably, I did it again! Exhale, scoot, rest. Again, only a few inches. Repeat. I took a few extra minutes to "enjoy" this position. Pinned in this small passage. Wow, I could not believe how relaxed I was. I tried one more time to exhale and scoot. My back was rubbing too much to continue. Despite the failed effort, I was psyched. I took several long minutes to lay there and recover from the effort. B had been encouraging me the entire time. It was fun to hear him cheer as he saw my shoes go deeper and deeper into the hole.
Ted would back out at this point, which wasn't too difficult, backing out of the entrance itself was fine until he scraped his back along the top of the passage, pulling his shirt over his head
I had some nice scrapes on my shoulders, but I didn't care. To me this trip was a success. I had pushed myself beyond what I though was possible.
They knew they had to bring some more tools so they decided to head back for the night, but both of them were incredibly pumped, so much so that B was able to climb back up the cliff at the entrance without any climbing devices or help, this was the first time since his accident that he had been able to do so
Prior to their next trip they made some preparations. One was the development of a scraping tool to help with the floor of tomb. Ted had a neighbor weld together some steel pipes and B created scraper using angle iron that could screw onto the tip of the pipes
April 7 2001
It would be several weeks before they could make it back out to the cave, but Ted swore, this was the time he'd finally get through . When they arrived it took them about 2 hours of work with their new tool to scrape out enough of the floor that Ted thought he could make it. Ted was ready, he had made duct tape suspenders to keep h is shirt from moving around during the crawl and he took a flashlight in hand
Moving through the tunnel wasn't much easier than it had been the first time, but this time he was able to keep going and there were a few less sharp rocks digging into his chest.
When I could feel my back brushing the top of the passage in several places, I reverted to my technique of exhaling. Before I began, however, I took a minute to lay there in the passage. I could see the glow of B's flashlight as the rays of light managed to squeeze past my body. I could feel the cool breeze evaporate the drops of dirty sweat on my forehead. I could feel a thousand sharp edges dig into the surface of my skin. I felt the twinge of excitement as I realized that the goal we had set out to achieve weeks ago was about to be realized. This thought alone made me want to keep moving, not matter how tight the passage became. I breathed in and out rapidly for a few moments, then began.
Stop to catch my breath.
After just a few inches of scooting I could raise my head off the floor of the squeeze and tell that the passage was beginning to open up! I relayed this information to B and we both took a few seconds to celebrate! during the rest of the slide through the passage B was cheering me on. "Virgin passage!" and "Neil Armstrong territory" were the phrases he kept repeating. I was grinning ear to ear.
Ted pushed through the small rock "wall" they had created several trips back and yelled back that he'd made it! They both were ecstatic. B pushed Ted's gear through the hole with some rope and the scraper
The first thing he sent through was my helmet and light. After I got the light fired up I was able to see our new section of cave. OURS! It was an exciting experience to see the results of hours of hard work over the course of several weeks. At this point we still had no idea what the cave had to offer. The only thing I could see was the passage immediately following the squeeze. It was a narrow passage with a low ceiling. I would easily be able to get through it, but I would have to crawl. I began taking pictures so I could show B
I asked B how far he thought I should venture into the new cave, in light of the strange events that had occurred. For the first time he, too, toned down his enthusiasm as he remembered the noises. He slid the pipe through the Tomb with a loosened tip on the end. He said I could use it as a weapon if I ran into an animal or ...? He also told me to make sure we could hear each other as I progressed into the cave.
Even though we were at least thinking of the possibility of running into trouble, we never really considered the fact that if I got into trouble B would never be able to rescue me, and in fact no one would be able to get to me for many hours. If I were in serious trouble, as in hurt, there was no way anyone would be able to get to me in time. But, symbolic of the whole experience, we were focused on our goal, and not the potential dangers we faced.
With all his gear equipped Ted proceeded down the new passage, which went about 20 feet before turning to the right. This next section was about 40 ft long and more importantly Ted could stand at full height
The walls were pristine, untouched by man. He came across some delicate rock formations and small crystals. It didn't take long before he and B could barely hear each other at which point Ted said he would go ahead for about half an hour and then return, B told him to be careful
The passages continued on for another 100 feet or so before the cave opened up a little. It was at the end of a short straight segment of the cave. At the very end of the segment the cave made a bend to the left and opened up into a room. Just at the point where the room began there was a round rock that appeared to be leaning against the wall. This seemed odd, but singular formations are common in caves so it is by no means unique. I had crawled and stepped over several large chunks of rock that fell down from the ceiling, but this one was more round than the others. Once past the rock the room opened up to a height of about 15 feet. It was about 15 feet in width and about 30 feet in length. At the far end of the room there was another passage leading straight out.
As I entered the room I had an eerie feeling. It was like the old saying that I felt like I was being watched. Once again the excitement of the new find faded, and the memories of the mysterious side of the cave crept back into mind. Suddenly I felt VERY alone. Fortunately for my ego I was nearly out of time and had to get back to B before my half hour was up. I took several pictures of the room. I was going to just get a feel for how long the next passage was when something caught my attention. On the left side of the room on the wall at about eye-level I discovered what appeared to be hieroglyphics! It was a single drawing that almost appeared to be just part of the rock coloration. It looked like very crude representations of people, standing below a symbol. I was pumped! This meant that there had to be another entrance to this cave. Even if the entrance was closed or blocked it might mean an opportunity to open it and get B into the cave. I took another look at the drawing to make sure I could describe it to B. Then I took some more pictures and headed back to B
Back at the crawl, Ted couldn't talk fast enough to tell B everything he had seen as he sent his gear back through. He then was faced with his journey back through the squeeze, this time going the other direction. He began to slowly make his way through, learning the different ways he had to twist his body to move forward
I was a little over half way through when something bizarre happened. I was laying there taking a brief break when I heard a sound deep within the cave. It was the faint, but distinct sound of rock sliding on rock. My blood froze in its veins. I couldn't move. I just lay there straining to hear the sound again. Nothing. I quickly began to scoot toward the exit. I didn't mention the sound to B, but I did recall one of our earlier trips when B said he heard the same thing.
The task of getting out of our hole turned out to be as painful as I thought it would be. I had to put my arms overhead and force my shoulders through the hole. I definitely left some skin behind as I slipped through. B helped me as I wiggled my upper body out of the passage. Then I could catch myself and ease my lower body out of the Tomb. I was out!! B and I shook hands and began to load up our gear. I was trying to listen to any sounds coming from the hole, but we were making too much noise gathering our stuff. As much as I looked forward to getting into the passage, it was a relief to get back out. That is pretty much how I feel about caves in general. I love to go in, but I feel good when I get back out again.
Something strange happened with the pictures I took in the new part of the cave. The pictures I took in the passage leading up to the large room all turned out just fine. Strangely none of the pictures taken in the room turned out! Pictures of the round rock, and more importantly pictures of the "hieroglyphics" I saw. Pictures taken before and after the room turned out great, but the negatives of the photos taken in the room were clear! Nothing. I remember what the hieroglyphics looked like so I drew a picture to give you an idea of what I saw.
April 14, 2001
Only a couple days elapsed before B found someone who wanted to explore the passage with us. B told me he talked to a few other people who couldn't make it because of scheduling conflicts. He said they really grilled him for information about the cave and about the passage. He would not tell them which cave it was to ensure that we explored it to our satisfaction before we made it known to the public. Even the guy who ended up going with us did not know which cave until we were very close to it. And he was sworn to secrecy that he would not reveal the location of the cave to anyone on the planet. I won't identify him by name, so I will just refer to him as "Joe".
They brought Joe into the cave, guiding him through the passages until they finally stood before Floyd's Tomb. Joe was impressed. Joe is relatively thin and has had a lot of experiences in caves and said that this would probably be the tightest squeeze he'd ever done, but it didn't bother him. Ted sent Joe through first, since he was ready and Ted would follow. The plan was for them to return within two hours, else B would go get help
It was, perhaps, irresponsible of us not to tell Joe about all of the unexplained events that occurred in the cave until after he had gone through. But what exactly to you tell someone? How many of the weird things did we need to reveal to him? We did not feel that we were in any danger or we would not go in the cave ourselves. So we did not tell him a thing prior to him entering Floyd's Tomb. Of course when we did tell him afterwards, it was too late.
Once I got through B started to relay my stuff to me. Then disaster struck. [...] I had just got my helmet (ironically) and light and was turning around to feed the rope back to B when I smacked my head on the top of the passage. Human skull vs. solid rock. Rock won. I told B what had happened so he sent my first aid kit through. I was bleeding, but even worse I didn't feel too good. I patched myself up, then told Joe I didn't think I'd better continue. He looked like a little kid who was told that Christmas would be cancelled. Although I didn't like the idea of him exploring the cave without me (for selfish reasons, of course), I wanted him to at least see part of the cave for making the trip out there.
I told him how far to go and how long it would take, then I sent him on his way. As I laid there I could hear him crawling into the darkness. His light disappeared after the first turn. I rested a minute or two, then began my journey back through the squeeze. It was disappointing to get all the way to the cave and then not be able to explore it to its end. Actually it is killing me! After I got through Floyd's Tomb (which was painful) I sat down and munched on a Clif bar while B and I chatted. I told him I would pay for a motel room if he would stay overnight. Then we could see how I was doing the next day and make another attempt at the cave. I felt goofy for having smacked my head on the cave wall. B said he was willing to give it another try tomorrow. He was just as anxious to put some closure to this cave. As long as Joe would stay overnight, we determined to wrap things up the next day. Once this was settled we just sat back and enjoyed the darkness. We could hear no sounds coming from the passage. The silence reminded me of the scraping noise that I heard last time we were out there. I brought up the subject with B. Since I had not explored the cave completely I could not offer any explanation of what could be making the scraping noise. Or the change the wind strength. Or the rumbling. Or that terrible scream that we heard. Suddenly we both wished we had not sent Joe into the cave alone.
B went to the hole and yelled into it. "Joe". No answer. Not surprising. You just can't hear each other when you are very far apart in a cave. We nervously awaited any sounds (Good sounds, that is. Joe type sounds.) The twenty minute time limit we had set passed. Then twenty-five minutes.
I really had no desire to climb back through the squeeze. My head was still throbbing and the squeeze looked tighter than ever. Still, I knew I was going to have to make sure Joe was safe. Just as I was getting prepared to go back through I saw a light deep in the passage. "Joe?", I called out. Nothing. "Joe!". Still no answer. The light got brighter and I could hear the noise of someone crawling across the broken rock that lined the cave.
"You o.k., Joe?".
"No", was his weak reply. When he got to the other side of the Tomb he said he was not feeling well. He quickly took his gear off and put them in the bag so we could pull it through. As I pulled the bag through the passage he began to climb back through the Tomb. We didn't even get a chance to question him about what he saw before he was coming back through. He quickly slipped through the squeeze and the hole and we finally got a look at him. He looked terrible. His face was pale and he was out of breath. The dust that covers the floor of the squeeze left its mark on his face and clothes. He had numerous small cuts and scratches on his face and arms. Probably from his rapid exit from the passage. His eyes were open wide.
We only had a brief moment to look at the change that had occurred to Joe before he started to head up and out of the cave, without saying a word. While Joe and B started for the surface I took a minute to gather our gear. Then I stopped to listen into the passage. I heard nothing. AND I FELT NOTHING! The wind had stopped! Part of me wanted to get out of the cave as fast as possible. But another part of me wanted to immediately climb back through the passage to find out what made this cave tick. Then was not the time, though. I still felt a little dizzy from my injury. At that moment I noticed B and Joe had made good time getting up the cave passage and I was left alone. Chills ran through my body as I scurried to catch up with them.
Once we got outside the cave I figured we would be able to find out more from Joe. But when he got up the final climb he just unclipped from the rope and went straight to the truck. In the light of day he looked even worse than in the cave. B and I gathered up the rope and our gear and headed for the truck. Joe said he did not want to stay overnight because he felt terrible(and we believed him), so we headed home. We could get no more information from Joe. He just stared straight ahead. He was shaking like a leaf, and he said he was not cold. When we tried to question him, his answers were short. I asked him if he saw the hieroglyphics. "No". Did he hear us yelling? "No". Did he see the round rock? "No". Did he see the crystals? "No". He said he just went a little ways in and started to feel sick. Something was fishy about his answers. He would have had to have seen the crystals if he got far enough into the cave that he couldn't hear us yelling. But why would he not elaborate?
The rest of the trip passed in eerie silence. Joe didn't say much else. We gave him a brief outline of the strange events that happened in the cave. He didn't reply. As we were dropping him off we asked if he wanted to go back in the cave. He shook his head and ran into his house. I tried to call him later in the day and the next day but only got his voice mail.
April 28, 2001
Neither of them had been able to contact Joe since their last trip. They heard from a friend that he hadn't been in to work and they stopped by his house once and it looked like somebody was home, but nobody answered the door
This cave represented to us the culmination of weeks of hard work, complete with an array of emotions. From fatigue to fear. Anticipation to pain. From frustration to glory. To us we were not standing on the brink of possible destruction, but rather honoring an unspoken commitment. Much like a parent of a wayward child. We were not about to abandon our "child" out of fear of the unknown. Like it or not this cave had become a part of us. And now we must see this adventure to its fruition. Additionally, verbose explanations aside, we were being eaten alive with curiosity! Despite the overwhelming number of unexplained occurrences we experienced, we HAD to go back into this cave. What was making the rumbling noise? What caused the change in wind strength? etc, etc, all the way down to Joe. What could have possibly happened to him? What did he see? Or experience? We had many lengthy discussions about what our next move would be. We kept coming to the same conclusion: We had to return to the cave. We could offer no possible scenarios that would solve the many riddles held deep within the cave. The only way we could hope to complete the puzzle would be to conquer the cave. We were going back to Mystery Cave.
Two weeks after our trip with Joe and we were on our way back to the cave. To prepare for this trip we contacted the local cave rescue group and got permission to borrow their low voltage two-way phone. The phone consists of two transceivers and a long spool of thin wire. I would then be able to unwind the wire as I went into the passage and stay in contact with B the entire time. We also thought it would be a good idea to take a video camera into the new passage. I purchased a case that would protect my video camera from dust, as well as sharp rocks. I was more than willing to pay the cost of the case just to make sure B got to see the entire passage.
We checked the camera and phone to make sure they survived the trip. We tested everything and I gathered the gear I wanted to take into the passage. Then it was time. We looked at each other, but said nothing. Then I turned to face the passage. As I twisted my body to begin entering the Tomb I desperately hoped it would be the last time I would contort my body to enter this claustrophobes nightmare.
Ted was able to make it through the tomb with relative ease and began his journey further into the depths, stopping every once in a while to film some of his surroundings so that B could see the fruits of his labor. It was awkward lugging the camera and unrolling the phone wire as he went, especially when he had to crawl, but it was worth it to him. He couldn't capture the small formations adequately on video with the level of light, but the crystal formations turned out quite nice. It was around this time he decided to check the phone.
It was comforting to hear someone's voice deep within the passage. We chatted briefly then I unplugged the phone and prepared to continue. [...] When I wanted to talk to B I would just plug the phone into a special jack on the spool of wire. The power source was on B's end of the phone so it was always turned on. The reception was as clear as a normal phone. I continued forward.
Even though progress was slow it was steady. Things were going pretty good until I reached the round rock. Once again I got a strange feeling, just like the last time. I looked around carefully but saw nothing to be alarmed about. I proceeded to film the entire room. I got good shots of the round rock from all angles. I got the walls, ceiling, and floor to the best of my ability. I even got some pretty good tape of the figure on the wall. It was difficult to make out exactly what it was on the video, but you could definitely tell something was there. After I taped everything to my satisfaction I moved toward the end of the room to prepare to explore new territory.
Ahead he could see the passage going about another 30 feet and took this opportunity to touch base with B again. It take a couple long moments before B answered, but when he did his voice came through crystal clear like before, even if he sounded like he had just been woken from a nap. B told Ted to take as long as he wanted, B was in no rush, Ted thanked him and hung up
From behind me I heard the scraping noise. It was loud. It was close! It was coming from the large room I had just left! I wheeled around to face what ever had made that noise. When I did I lost my presence of mind and stood up at the same time. Crunch! My helmet crashed into the passage ceiling. My light broke and I was buried in the heavy darkness. Pain shot through my neck and down into my back. The helmet had protected my head but my neck was nearly numb from the impact. Fear enveloped me and my knee's began to weaken. I slowly and involuntarily slumped to my knee's. I gently set the camera down as I began to see stars from the pain in my upper back. The scraping noise lasted only a second and now the only sound I could hear was my own panic-inspired breathing. Not only could I feel the fear thick upon my chest but the darkness seemed to hold me in place. I felt like I was vulnerable from every direction. I wanted to turn and look behind me, and to the side of me, and in front of me. Everywhere I looked I saw black. Finally I broke the stupor of terror long enough to reach for an alternate light source, the mini-mag on my helmet. I twisted the light to turn in on, and when I did I nearly cried! I had forgot to put fresh batteries in and now i could barely see more than a few feet. Still, it was better than nothing. I immediately began shining the light with all my might into the large room. I strained to get a glimpse of any movement in the room. Nothing.
I was shaking violently as I sat there trying to figure out what to do. My mind was not thinking clearly. I honestly thought I was going to die right there in the cave. For a fleeting moment I wondered how B would ever figure out what had happened to me. Then it hit me like a boulder: THE PHONE! My mind must have been clearing up at that point because I also thought about my glo-sticks. Without taking my eyes off the large room I felt around in my pack for the glo-sticks. [...] I found one and ripped it out of the package. I could tell something was wrong by how it sounded. It has been inadvertently broken and was now useless. I chucked it on the ground and searched my pack for another one. I took my eyes off the large room only to check the passage behind me occasionally. I found another glo-stick broke it to light it up. The soft green glow created eerie colors on the walls of the cave. The stick provides barely enough light to see the immediate area, and provided no hint of what lie ahead. I felt the pack for one more light, again without taking my eyes off the room. I felt a third glo-stick and ripped it out of the package. After breaking it to make sure it worked I hesitated, then threw the glo-stick into the large room.
The throw was a perfect one and the stick sailed through the length of the room. In the brief moment that the light traveled through the room I saw nothing but cave walls. The absence of anything unusual did nothing to ease my state of panic. At the far end of the room I got a brief glimpse of the round rock as the light bounced on it. Then the light went behind the rock and seemed to disappear. I was still shaking, but at least I didn't see anything. Still, there was the noise...
I used the glo-stick to light the phone real and with fumbling fingers I managed to plug my phone into the jack. I put the phone to my ear and heard... NOTHING! The usual beeps to indicate connection with the other phone were not there. Terrified I pulled the phone from the jack and re-inserted it. Again, silence. The line was dead. What could have happened?! I JUST talked to B! I found myself nearly sobbing with fear. I knew the only way out of here was back the way I came. But SOMETHING was there! A third attempt at making contact with B met with the same results. I tried to think of another plan, but I could only focus on the memories of the grinding sound that I had heard. In my weakened state I slumped against the side of passage, breathing like I had just finished a race, never breaking eye contact with the shadows of the large room. As my shoulder touched the wall I had a powerful jolt of pain remind me of my collision with the roof of the cave. Despair, agony, terror.
I can't say exactly how long I sat there, but my feet were tingling and my knees were sore. The pain in my back crept lower, although my neck felt no different. I resolved to make an attempt to exit this evil passage. I knew if I waited too long I would loose what little light I had. I attempted to stand, but did not have the strength. I crawled slowly to the near end of the large room, dragging my pack beside me. Using the walls of the cave I was able to slowly stand, though not strait due to my sore back. Still breathing rapidly I slowly advanced through the room. I wound up the phone wire as I went. My eyes were staring straight ahead, straining for any signs of movement. With every step my light would cast ever changing shadows on the wall, keeping me busy trying to look at every one. My eyes burned as I realized I had not blinked for many minutes. How many? How long had this been going on? The only sounds I could hear were the crunch of my feet on the broken rock, and the wheezing of my breath. As I wound the cord I could hear the squeak of the wheel, with each turn bringing me closer to the Tomb. Closer to B. Closer to safety.
The short trip through the room took an eternity. As I passed the crude drawing it seemed to glow, as if offering some sort of warning. I didn't know what the drawing represented, but everything about this cave seemed to instill fear. Toward the far end of the room I could see the round rock dimly at the far reaches of my light. Something seemed different about it, but I couldn't tell what. When I got within a few feet I could finally tell what had changed. It had moved! THAT was the sound I heard. Again terror gripped my entire body as I realized how close I was to... something! I had no choice but to continue. Still, it was not easy. I inched toward the rock, holding the glo-stick ahead of me in my shaking hand, using it to pierce the darkness. I stopped just this side of the rock and wound up the slack in the phone wire. Then I realized why I had lost contact with B. The rock was now sitting on the wire! I gave it a tug and the thin wire snapped. My only hope of contact with the outside world ceased to exist when that wire broke. I had never felt so alone and helpless. Buried deep within the earth. I had voluntarily descended into my own grave, with a casket of solid rock.
With the phone now useless I set it down in the passage. My gaze fixed on the round rock, I proceeded forward. My breathing was rapid, with my throat dry and aching and my mouth dusty. With every crunch of the rock below my feet my heart seemed to stop. No movement could be seen in the green glow of my stick. I got to the rock and peered over the top. Seeing nothing I took several rapid steps past it. When I reached the other side I recoiled in horror at what I saw. In the side of the passage near the floor was a hole, with another passage revealed. It had been covered by the rock! BUT NOW IT WAS EXPOSED! The rock could not have moved by itself.
I backed away from the hole and collided with the opposite wall. I had not been paying attention to the pain in my back, but now it came back to me in all its fury. I stared down the newly discovered passage. It went down at a 45 degree angle and continued straight for as far as I could see. Several feet down I could see the glo-stick that I had thrown. It illuminated the passage enough that I could tell the walls were fairly smooth. The floor seemed to be the same way, unlike the rest of the cave. The passage was about 3 feet in diameter as far as I could see. It would have been an easy passage to explore, if I had the least desire to do so. Right now I wanted out of the cave and into daylight. I slowly backed away from the hole toward B. I never took my eyes off the abyss. I nearly tripped over the phone wire as I turned to leave this devils lair. I noticed my mini-mag was practically dead, leaving me only with the glo-stick. I wanted to sprint to Floyd's Tomb. Just hearing another human being would help alleviate some of the fear I was experiencing.
As I turned away from the large rock and the hole, I felt an overwhelming sense of panic fill my soul. It felt like a legion of demons was about to attack me from behind. I felt like my salvation lie ahead of me in the darkness, and Lucifer was behind me, trying to keep me from safety. I found myself moving much faster than I should have been in that cave. My only thought was to get out as quickly as possible. I passed the crystal formation, barely even noticing this beautiful creation of nature in the green glow of my light. Every time I ducked to avoid a rock I felt my back scream it's reminder of my injury. When I got to the point in the passage where I had to crawl I flung myself down on all fours, barely slowing down as I dropped. [...]
Forcing myself to move I winced as I pulled my body onto all fours and started to progress along the cave. [...] I reached the point where I could yell to B, but I didn't make a sound. I didn't want to stop long enough to talk. Finally I reached the last stretch of cave before the squeeze. As I was crawling toward the beginning of the Tomb I called to B. He answered back. I screamed to him to get everything ready to go. He asked if I was O.K. [...] I told him no, and to get everything ready to go. When I reached the rope I flipped off my helmet and shoved it into my pack. For the first time I realized, I HAD FORGOT MY VIDEO CAMERA! It was a fleeting thought. I cared no more about that camera than a passenger of the Titanic cared about a hat or a coat. I tied the pack to the rope and told him to pull it through. Then I told him to start heading toward the surface as soon as he pulled the rope through. He asked why and I screamed that there was something in the cave with us.
My back ached with every move I made. I knew it didn't matter, though. I was going to get through the Tomb as fast as I could, injuries not withstanding. Just as I started into the squeeze I felt the wind in the passage increase, and with it the most nauseating stench I have ever experienced. It smelled like damp, rotting, rancid, putrid, DEATH. I almost started to dry-heave. I pulled my shirt up over my nose to shield me from the over-powering smell. At this point B smelled it too. He yelled, "WHAT is THAT?". Then he yelled at me to hurry up and get through. I told him I was coming, then I took a deep breath through my shirt, and started back through. B's yelling had intensified my fear and panic, as if I needed any help. I new he could sense the urgency in getting out of this place. Still, as I worked my way through I yelled at him to start up, that I would catch up with him when I got through. He said he would. He placed my glo-stick inside the passage, then began to climb out.
[...] Halfway through Floyd's Tomb I took a break to catch my breath. I was approaching exhaustion and my respiration rate was through the roof. The top of the passage seemed to rest my cheek, and the floor felt like broken glass on my opposite cheek. As I paused briefly to recuperate I heard the scraping noise coming from deep within the cave! It continued for several seconds, then silence. [...]. In a panic I began to scoot through the passage. As I reached the largest part of the Tomb I quickly slid my arms under my body to get into position to exit through our hole. I grabbed the rope and pulled with all my might. When my shoulders reached the hole they lodged, and I was stuck! I dug my feet into the rocks and wiggled my way back into the passage. Then I turned my body slightly and tried again. This time I was successful in pulling my upper body through. [...]
I rolled over onto all fours, then slowly rose to my feet. The smell was much less intense outside of the passage. I grabbed the glo-stick and used it to find my helmet. [...] Once on top I scrambled to catch up with B. I was impressed with the speed of his ascent.
I did not see or hear B until I reached the small area at the bottom of the drop. He was on rope and climbing out as fast as he could. I could hear him moving quickly and breathing heavily. I called out to him and his startled reaction told me he was nearly as tense as I was. He told me to get on rope and start climbing. We both knew that would be dangerous and not something we would ever normally do, but this was different. I stood there looking up at where the rope disappeared into the darkness above me. It danced around as B made his way to safety. He was out of sight but I knew he was close. I knew the rope was my lifeline to the outside. To light, safety. Behind me was darkness, fear, the unknown. [...]
I slid the glo-stick into the cord on my helmet and reached for my harness. Then I thought I would let B get a little bit higher while I pulled the rope up that was stretched down into the cave. That would make it easier to get out once we got to the top of the drop. I chose not to wind the rope around my arm, since it was sore and bleeding, so I just pulled it into a pile on the floor. [...]. I had about half of it in, about 50 feet, when the rope hit a snag. UGH! It was solid. There was no way I was going to crawl back in to release it so I decided to just forget the rope and get my harness on and get out of the cave. I quickly threw the harness around me and started to buckle it. Before I could secure it I heard a strange noise at my feet. My pulse began to quicken. I looked down at the rope only to discover to my horror that the rope was disappearing down into the darkness. SOMETHING WAS PULLING THE ROPE BACK INTO THE CAVE!!!
I let go of the harness and began clawing my way up the rope. The unbuckled harness fell to the floor. Fortunately I held on to an ascender. At the moment I could not think strait and began climbing out of the cave without being attached to the rope. I had climbed out many times without using an ascending device, but I was always attached to the rope, just in case.
I was climbing as fast as my battered body could haul me up. I was in a near panic state again and consequently was scraping, bumping, and gouging my arms and legs. As I climbed I screamed to B that something was pulling the rope. He yelled back to hurry up. Luck was with me in that I didn't slip and fall back down into the hole. If I had I would have bounced several times against the sides of the cave before smashing onto the floor. The injuries would be fatal. Without the necessity of having to stop to slide the ascender up the rope I made excellent time getting up. I could see rays of light above me, coming from the entrance to the cave. That told me exactly where I was in the cave.
I caught up to B on the "ledge" below where our re-belay point was fixed. I told him to keep going. It would only take him a few minutes, but every second would be torture, because I had to wait for him to get up. I watched the rope that we had just climbed up. I expected to see some creature from deep within the earth climb up and make me it's lunch. The rope moved around a bit, in rhythm with B's climbing, but did not appear to have any tension on it. As I stood there waiting for B I kept watching the rope for signs of anything bizarre. I didn't know if my heart could take any more stress. I could not have been more wired. I tried to relax a bit to make sure I was thinking rationally, but my poor brain had reached sensory overload. As B reached the top of the last climb I got ready to clip on my ascender and get my sorry butt out of there. It was then that I noticed that the rope began to tighten from below. I could feel the tension on the rope, but it was a steady tension, not like someone was climbing up. Either way I wanted out of there as fast as possible. I clipped on and scrambled up the rope. I hadn't noticed but B had kept on moving toward the entrance. I got up the last few feet in a hurry. I just unclipped and kept on moving, leaving the rope behind.
By the time I got to the entrance of the cave, and daylight, B was almost up to where the rope was anchored. I wanted to get up so bad I almost started to free climb, without clipping on to the rope. I could see B was almost up, so I clipped on and started up. I almost didn't make it up. I had just started up when I nearly collapsed from exhaustion. I managed to recover enough to pull myself up the last few feet. As I climbed I could hear the tension on the rope manifest itself by the stretching noise in the rope. I prayed the rope would not break with me attached to it. The second that I reached the top I unclipped the ascender. I could see B kneeling down by the tree, so I limped over to him and collapsed. For the first time since I went through Floyd's Tomb we could see each other. We just stared. I knew I looked pretty bad, but didn't know that B was in such bad shape. He had cuts and scrapes on every exposed surface of his body. His face was pale, almost white. His mouth and his eyes were wide open. He was breathing heavily. Almost gasping. The shock we shared at the other persons appearance was broken when we heard the rope around the tree stretch and the knot B had tied tighten. I was frozen in place. Overwhelmed with fright. B seemed to be transfixed on the knot. Then in one motion he produced a pocket knife and began to work on the rope.
It is amazing how a persons state of mind can alter the perception of time. I'm sure it only took 4 or 5 seconds to severe the rope from the tree, but it seemed like an hour. When the rope was cut, the knot fell to the ground, while the end of the rope zipped across the rocks and over the edge of the cliff, the speed of it causing a humming noise as it went. As soon as the rope was cut, B let out a cry. He dropped the knife and fell backward. Watching the rope fly over the edge brought the feelings in the passage back to me. I got up and headed toward the truck. I noticed B was still laying there, wide eyed, staring at the point the rope disappeared. I called to him, which seemed to break his trance. He got up and hurried away from the tree, the cave, the nightmare. Neither of us said a word all the way home. [..]
It would almost be a month for the blog was updated again
May 19 2001
On May 19 2001 Ted would post a new entry
It has been three weeks since our last visit to the cave. I want to update everyone as to my condition, my plans for the cave, and the events of the past few weeks. I apologize for not returning your phone calls. I have been getting all of your messages, I just haven't felt up to calling back. Steve and Marc, thanks for your words of encouragement on my answering machine. I know you two are sincerely concerned for me. You are awesome friends. Marc, I know you stopped by the house a few times, and I'm sorry I never answered the door. It really helped me just knowing you dropped by. Sis, I can hear the worry in your voice. I'm o.k. Don't worry about me. Just take care of those nieces and nephews of mine.
When we left the cave I was nearly in a state of shock. I could not think clearly and was having a difficult time trying to understand what had happened. I didn't eat much nor did I get any sleep. I was glad I had the presence of mind to write down my experience while it was fresh in my mind. As I re-read what I wrote I feel like I accurately portrayed what happened in the cave that day. I wouldn't change anything I wrote. Even though it took three days to write it, when I finished writing in my journal I felt much better. I guess it was kind of therapeutic. Unfortunately it didn't last. In fact, it was after then that things got really bad.
Ted goes on to explain what happened since he last wrote. After B dropped him off at home that night, they hadn't talked until the day before this entry was posted. Neither of them had tried to reach out to the other. Ted took the next several days to himself and didn't leave his house. He tried to eat but had no appetite. He was restless and nothing could take his mind off of the experience
He was getting all sorts of calls from people wanting to know what had happened since reading his blog that he eventually changed his answering machine to say that he was fine so he wouldn't have to talk to people.
A week after the trip, things got strange. He began to hear inexplicable sounds throughout the house. Shuffling noises, creaking doors, the usual horror movie fare. But it wasn't like the sounds were distinct, it was if he thought he heard something right when he was doing something else, but when he stopped to listen, he heard nothing. If it wasn't for the fact that this was happening so frequently he would've just dismissed it as paranoia
Feelings of anxiety and foreboding overwhelmed him and not long after came the hallucinations. Like the sounds, he would just catch a glimpse from the corner of his eye, but when he looked nothing was there. He got to the point of sleeping with his light on and even bought a gun through a private sale from a paper ad.
He went to the doctor, but didn't say much other than he couldn't sleep or relax and the doctor gave him a prescription. His back still hurt a little at this time, but the prescription helped with that as well. When he was using his medication he felt great, but he also felt high and didn't want to live like that for the rest of his life so he tried to only use them on particularly hard days, but the hallucinations worsened making him rely more on the medication
He began to see shapes and shadows, often moving outside his windows at night, nothing that he could identify, but something was moving. Closing the drapes and blinds did help somewhat but he was a mess. He would sleep as long as he could out of exhaustion and he lost a lot of weight so he tried to eat as much as he could.
He didn't watch tv, he couldn't focus and he spent most of his time on the internet doing research on caves and cave myths. The only story he could find was some caver folklore about a creature that supposedly roams caves known as a hodag.
Two weeks after the cave was when the nightmares began.
Extremely lucid nightmares. No specific theme or recurring events. Just plain terrifying. Sometimes I was in my house and someone was trying to get me. Only I couldn't run because I had no legs. Other times I was in a vat and someone was pouring a syrup-like liquid on me, filling the vat. I would wake up in a panic. I would stay awake until exhaustion forced me to enter dreamland once again. A brutal routine. It continued for several days, until it reached a climax on the sixth day (yesterday). My dreams seemed so real I had a hard time telling if I was awake or not. I was beat, really drained of energy and spirit. I was going from the living room to my bedroom in the early evening when I looked down the hall and saw a dark figure toward the end. I thought it was a thief and began to back up slowly. It didn't move. As I was backing up the lights flickered off and on. Every muscle was tense. I stopped to stare at the figure. Just then the phone rang! It startled me so bad I stumble over the chair. When I got up I wheeled around to look down the hall and nothing was there! I grabbed my keys and left the house. I felt compelled to get in the car and drive. My pulse pounded in my temples as I got in and started the car. I wanted to drive to Overlook point to see the city lights. I didn't know why I needed to go there, but I knew I HAD to go. The closer I got, the more urgent the feeling. When I arrived at the point, I saw something that at first startled me, but then caused me to be more relaxed than I had been in a long time. Joe was there! He was out of his car, standing looking at the lights. We looked at each other. I could see from the tired look on his face he had been going through the same miserable trial that I had been experiencing. He could tell from the look on my face that we had shared some terrible experience. Our conversation was unbelievably brief. "You been back?", he began, even though he knew the answer. "Yes." "We need to return." "Tomorrow good?" I asked. "Yeah, noon." He got in his car and I got into mine. I hadn't even wanted to talk to him about his experience. Obviously he didn't want to know mine. I drove over to B's house.
When he answered the door I thought that B actually looked like he was doing fine, somewhat happy. One look at me and his disposition changed. Our conversation was also succinct. "I ran into Joe, and we're going back in tomorrow at noon." B looked dead serious. He just nodded his head. I asked him if I could spend the night at his house. He eagerly let me in. I didn't notice until later, but every light in the house was turned on. He led me to his spare room. "Help yourself." "Thanks." I washed up in the bathroom, took some medication, and got the first decent sleep in a long time. I awoke early this morning and came home to get ready for the trip. I thought I would send out this update so no one will wonder what's going on with me. I suspect that by the time most of you read this I will be back home and will have a great story to tell. I promise that if you haven't heard from me by now, you will very shortly. It is now 10 a.m. on Saturday the 19th. We will be leaving for the cave in two hours. [...]
There are so many things I hope to accomplish this day. So many answers I hope to find in a tiny passage hidden from view. Reflecting on the events leading up to today leaves me feeling dizzy. Was this all a bad dream? Unfortunately I am wide awake, and still, in a few short hours I might face my nightmare. The thought of having another person with me in the passage does nothing to alleviate the fear I feel. I almost chuckle as I ponder a childish notion that we will have to consider: Who will enter the Tomb first? Who will lead the way into the dark unknown? Who will decide when to turn back? Foremost among the questions in my mind is, What about the video camera that I left behind? It is supposed to be able to record in complete darkness. I left the thing running, so what might we find on the tape. Darker questions follow - What if the camera is gone? What if it is destroyed?
Although it is difficult to put an exact name on my motivation, I think "closure" fits quite nicely. I need to find out a few things about this cave. The main thing, believe it or not, is to find the end of the cave. With all of the bizarre things I have witnessed these past few weeks it would seem a bit trite to want, as a primary goal, to get to the end, but that is what I want. To be sure, I will be seeking other bits of knowledge along the way. If, however, I find the end to the main passage, and an end to the passage hidden by the rock, I will be content to never return to the passage or the cave again. Never!
It would seem to me that crawling head first through a tight passage into the darkness is an unnatural thing. Just like crawling up the side of a cliff for recreation. Or jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and floating to the ground. We do these things to satisfy our hunger for adventure. This sub-conscious desire to conquer our own little Everest. As B is fond of saying, "Caving is the last opportunity for exploration for the person with modest means." True. Just a short drive from just about anywhere in the country is a cave waiting to be explored. Even a cave well known among the general public, can be approached by someone for the first time as an adventure, something new, something to overcome. Because it's there.
Many of you don't agree with my decisions to pursue this cave. I know this from the messages I have received. I'm afraid I don't have a choice. If I am ever to experience restful slumber, I must return. If I am ever to walk the halls of my own home in peace, I must return. If I am ever to exit the overworld and enter the subterranean world of a cave, I must now return. I no longer feel that I have a choice. I MUST return.
For my family and friends who are reading this I say, Be at peace. I will conquer this cave. Then I will return and update this web site immediately. I will include any photo's we take in the cave today, and if you stop by the house I will show you the video I will have. I expect to be home later tonight, or tomorrow at the latest.
See all of you soon, with a lot of answers! Love, Ted
At the bottom of this entry is a link that says 'Next' but clicking it just brings you back to the same page. The site was never updated again. Searching the archives and web maps nothing else but these entries have existed under this sub-domain. But yet, on May 19th this year was 20th year anniversary since the site's last post and it's still online
Who is Ted? What happened? Is any of this real or is it an elaborate creative writing exercise?
Well you'll just have to tune into our next episode to find out