||Eagle Caves at Chimney Mt, near Speculator, NY (click
here to see rough map of where to park)
||Saturday, October 13, 2007
|Ben D., Patrick D. (the younger), Alec F., John K., Brandon
M., Jason M., David M., Evan M., Jeremy R., Doug S., Matt S.,
||Tom Bashant, Jim Derrane, John Dooley, Mike Fitzsimmons and
his two sons Brian and Mike, John Ivory, Ken McDonald, Cliff Rose,
David Scarafile, Jennifer Scarafile
||Special guests included Sarah D., and two younger
brothers. This was a huge crowd, and we had a BLAST.
I don't think I can begin to describe just how cool this trip was.
The idea actually formed when a good friend talked about recent trips he'd
made to the spot, and he provided us with the following link...
It seems to be the definitive source of information about these caves and
how to navigate them. We used them as a source of inspiration and
hope. Having a passing knowledge of them is sufficient to find the
caves and get a fair distance into them, but a lot of the fun is in making
your own discoveries.
Getting there is half the fun. It was a wonderful day - nice and
crisp. We were all shedding our outer layers pretty quick into the
hike. It wasn't a rough trip... not much different than Bald Mountain,
actually. From the trailhead to the main peak of Chimney Mt, it took
us only 45 minutes or so.
It turns out there are two peaks of sorts to the mountain. As you
approach, there will be an opportunity to branch off to the left. We
missed this completely, and ended up at the main peak on the Eastern or
Right hand side. This has the classic rock structures which give the
mountain its name, and which you can see in the photos here. The
craggy rocks and such were a lot of fun to go poking around.
There's a rift between the East and West peaks, and it took some amount
of poking around to figure out how to get over to where the cave entrance
is. Fortunately, there were a couple of other groups heading up to the
caves that day, and we ended up following one of them.
The actual opening is very obvious, once you get to it. It's on the
West side of the mountain, over the edge from the top of the Western side.
If you're on the side with the really cool rocks, you're on the wrong peak.
Again, the link above has all sorts of related stuff, including detailed
descriptions and maps on how to get to the cave opening. (I just wish
we'd brought printouts.) But as I say, part of the fun is in the
discovery. For those who are curious, the GPS coords are
+43° 41' 37.50", -74° 12' 53.88"
for the cave entrance. (43 41.625, -74 12.898)
The Bat Room really, really has bats!
Hundreds of them. Hundreds and hundreds of
them. Thousands. You could hear them like mice when they got
agitated. Some started to fly around, but none really got to bothering
us. Once in a while you might have one bump into you, but it was no
big deal. It sounds a lot freakier than it really turned out to be.
|While there, we met a church group of about a dozen people,
and another Scout Troop (107?), that's been in there about six or seven
times before. These guys seemed to know what they were doing!
than using a rope ladder, they rappelled down into the bat room. On a
prior trip, they said they were underground for about five and a half hours.
Even so, they said that they've not even gotten close to seeing all there
was to see in here.
The photos on these pages will give you the mistaken impression that
things were easy to see. That ain't true! It was pitch dark in
here. You'll notice that we brought and used glow sticks for all the
people, and this turned out to be a nice idea.
Near the end of the time in the caves, a couple of the adults (who will
remain nameless) decided to go off on their own to check out an area that
they'd not yet gotten to. Although that was pretty cool, they
unfortunately got lost (!) and could not find the path back to where they
came in. The panic lasted only a few seconds, but it drove home just
how scary and dangerous this can be. When you have a crowd of 25 or so
poking around as a group, you feel safe. When it's just a couple of
guys on their own, leaving a string trail is critically important.