American Grotto

Chronicles


Speleological Preservation and Exploration

Dedicated to service and protection of God’s Earth through conservation knowledge and adventure.

 

 

FITTON CAVE TRIP

April, 24 2006:

 

Fitton Cave Trip

               Fitton Cave is located near a 6 mile loop trail in the Buffalo National River Area. The cave has 2 known entrances, a dry entrance known as Beauty Cave, and a lower wet entrance known as Bat Cave. The dry entrance is the only entrance accessible this time of year.

               A two mile hike along the trail is required to get to the dry entrance. The trail cuts through heavy forest weaving along a small stream and around a few springs. The undergrowth consists mostly of dense wet forest plants like ferns, wild ginger, and mayapples. At the end of the hike, a short climb is required to get to the locked gate at the entrance.

               After going through the three foot cave entrance, the room opens up into a narrow passage about nine feet tall.  To the right there is a 40ft. drop off containing impressive stalactites, columns, and ribbon formations. To the left there is a steep climb down into a large, heavly decorated room divided by rows of large columns, splattermites, and flowstone platforms along the walls.

               From the entrance room, a narrow chasm leads to a long passageway about 40 feet below. Continuing on this rout would lead to the west passageway, which is an older more highly decorated area of the cave. The height of this passage varies from olny 4 feet up to 15 feet. The celing is made of limestone containing uncountable fossils of crinoids, blastoids, and gastrophods. This sea of fossils is broken up by fracture lines or water seeps lined with thousands of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, soda straws, and helictites. One of the cave's landmark formations is found in this passage known as the missle silo. This column starts from a small hole in the ceiling and extends through a hole in the floor and into a the east passage below.

               The T-room is accessible by decending through a 12 foot hole in the floor of the west passage. This lower area is less decorated then the west passage and contains large amounts of breakdown. The T-room leads to either the east passage or the water passage.

               The water passage is a narrow channel aprox. 100 feet deep that curves and bends as the stream has eaten away the rock. This passage is also known as the passage of 21 jumps because at least 21 jumps from shelf to shelf are required to go on to the waterfall. The shelves in this area are highly decorated with stalactites and ribbons. Below the 21 jumps passage is the stream. The walls of the stream are mostly white and smooth. Black cloud formations formed from pockets of manganese that do not disolve from carbonic acid stick out of the walls hovering overhead like thunerheads or something our of a Dr. Sues book. Chert lined the stream bed with black cloud dams, creating many waterfalls.

               Beyond that is the 50 ft waterfall.  Because this area was closed, we did not go that far (sorry).  We will have to get there next time.

 

March, 31 2006:

 

          Currently we are planning an outing on Apr 22 to Fitton Cave, located in northwestern Arkansas. This will be our 2nd trip to this cave. The cave is one of the largest caves in AR. consisting of 12 miles of explored passageways and unknown beyond. The cave is featured in National Geographic for having speleothems that are found nowhere else in the world. Fitton Cave is also known as Beauty Cave from the water entrance where the lower passageway contains a spectacular 50 ft waterfall.

          The outing is planned as a 3 day excursion with one day in the cave. We will be attempting to reach the Tennourl room located near the inner most part of the cave. From there we hope to explore an area known as Helletite, currently the furthest explored passageway. We will take the rout starting at the Dry Entrance following the path of…

            Dry Entrance.

                        Small opening on cliff face looking into very large

                        room decorated with

large columns.

            Manhole.

The split off the upper passage West Room and the lower T Room a vertical descend through the manhole is required to go to the T Room.

            T Room.

The split between the lowest water passage Wet Entrance and the Out Room.

            Out Room.

Accessible through the lower east passage or the east passage. (The east passage forks off to the to the Crystal Room part of the west passage.)

            Round-house Room.

The largest room in the cave. Place where the east and west passage come together and the next split in the cave to the Tennourl Room or an area known as Millipede. (Millipede is the start of unexplored passageways or possibly a dead end.)

            Tennourl Room.

                        Accessible through a labyrinthine passage or a 

                        northern passage.

            Helletite.

The furthest explored passageway and the location of many rare formations including some found nowhere else in the world.

We will be leaving the same way we came in.

We will not be exploring lower water passageway. It is off limits this time of year because of an endangered species of bat hibernates in this passageway. We are also not planning on exploring the west passage since we have will have little extra time.

Our trip projects include removal of litter from the cave and surrounding karsts, photography of Fitton Cave by Jason A., an attempt to capture video footage to be used in a documentary, and to create better maps of the cave.

 

Charlie L.

 

Founding

 

March, 30 2006:

 

Founding of American Grotto.