The cave entrance was only 150 feet from the road, but took over 30 minutes of searching due to a complex pile of slippery house-sized boulders. When we finally found it, the floor was a thick sheet of slippery mud. The cave ceiling, maybe 10 feet high, was also painted with mud.
There were no plants in the entrance of the cave, living or dead. Could this cave have flooded recently? There had only been light rain in the past few days. It was barely 9:00 AM, so we set a strict ‘out by noon’ rule.
We went in. The mud was thick and slippery, with many filthy pools to wade across. After 200 feet, just out of sight of the entrance light, we came upon a bat colony that suddenly awoke. There were bats everywhere! Swooping our heads, around our knees, and clicking up and down the hallway. It seemed imprudent to keep walking. Neither of us have health insurance, and even if we did, getting rabies shots is no picnic!
We crouched down low and waited. Eventually the bats disappeared farther down the hallway.
We advanced, and were quickly caught again in the cloud of screeching wings. We waited.
Then advanced, then waited. It took us over an hour to complete the 600-feet entrance passage.
Here, we came to a split. We followed the left, upper fork to a small lake with beautiful formations. This room seemed mostly flood-safe. We backtracked, and went right and down at the split.
Almost immediately, we started wading into a lake. It was thigh-deep, then chest-deep, and soon we were swimming. The hallway was maybe 20 feet wide, and the ceiling dipped down to only two feet above the lake. Here and most other points of the ceiling were streaked with fresh, wet mud. There were continuous curves, and we swam for a solid four minutes, perhaps 400 feet, until we saw the end.
It ended in a larger room which continued with a boulder pile and a small stream trickling back down into the lake. There was significant mud, and at this point I was beginning to grasp the magnitude of the recent floods that had come through this cave during only light rainfall. It was already 11 AM.
Continuing would not be safe, knowing that even a light rain outside could immediately sweep us to our deaths. We made the decision to turn back, even though I knew that the best parts of the cave were still ahead. The swim back was long, and we were glad to have life vests.
Back in the entrance hallway, there were no bats to be found, but the smell was horrific. I noticed dead cockroaches floating in the pools as we waded through. I gagged, took a deep breath, and gagged again. Despite having seen thousands of bats, the guano layer was minuscule, which I interpreted as a third sign of recent flooding.
We emerged into daylight right at noon. It was overcast. Within 15 minutes, it started to rain.