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Carroll Cave
Camdem County, MO
Cavers: Ben Miller, Bob Lerch, Joe Sikorski, DJ Hall and two others.
Trip Report by DJ Hall.

My first trip to Carroll Cave began with a long, lonely 3 hour drive from Kansas City to Camdem County, Missouri. It was a chilly, cloudy morning and the wind whipped across the cow splotched field overtop of the 4th longest Cave in Missouri. I easily found the silo protecting the man made entrance to Carroll Cave, it was 9:30am and as usual, I was early.
After an hour or so wait, one by one, my troglodyte companions arrived, carefully dodging the cows while making their way across the field toward the silo. Introductions were made as we discussed the weather and various other common topics of the moment while Bob Lerch unlocked the silo and the hatch covering the entrance of the cave. As I peered inside, I felt a significant amount of air blowing out of the cave and it contained so much moisture it actually momentarily fogged up my contacts!
Eventually, everyone got themselves organized and we prepared to make entry. It is around 12:00 noon. The entry to Carroll Cave is executed down a 120 ft man made shaft about 4 feet wide. A steel ladder was installed a while back, which extends the depth of the cave. With my seat harness snugly wrapped around my body I waited my turn to descend into the unknown. “Off rope!” echoes from far below, and I respond, “OK!”
I carefully attach my figure eight to the rope, sling my back pack over the edge and let it dangle from by harness below me. I quickly rappel down the shaft, keeping my feet on the outside of the ladder rungs. The farther I progressed the wetter things became until I finally hit bottom and water was dripping from everywhere. I moved over, out from under the rain and detached my figure eight. “Off Rope!”, I yelled. “OK!” echoed from far above me.
I was in Carroll Cave.
The cavern was dimly lit by a strand of rope lights, casting a soft glow on countless formations and pretties. I removed my harness and took a breather, marveling at the uniqueness of what I had just done.
We divided into two groups and I teamed up with Ben Miller and Joe Sikorski. The purpose of our project was to survey two side passages down Carroll River. It took several hours of hiking down Carroll River to finally reach our destination via the water barrier and the turnpike. We nearly made it to the Mountain room before we spotted small clusters of bats roosting in various places. I took the time to take a few pictures, and then explored a water tunnel where I spotted several Sculpin.
After a light snack, we began surveying a small side passage to the right just up from the mountain room. Surveying is tedious work; however I quickly caught on to the importance of the accuracy of measurement, angle and inclination. We continued long into the evening, slowly making progress with having to make stations every 8 to 10 feet due to the heavy meanders.
No one on the team managed to pack a watch, so when we were famished, we stopped and ate dinner. We had managed to survey over 270 feet of passage before it became too tight. Through the tight crawl however, I could see it opened up into another passage.
After dinner, we made our way back up river a ways to another side passage on the right. This one was a bit larger than the previous, requiring less crawling and fewer stations. We surveyed about 500 feet of this passage. I went another 500 feet to see where it might end, but I never did reach a termination point. Someday I will explore this passage further.
Not knowing exactly what time is was, we decided to call it a trip and started to head back. Ben wanted to take the long way around so I could see all the pretties in Paradise Room passage. I was already very tired, considering I new it had to be way past midnight. The trip back was extremely exhausting interspersed with moments of wonder as I gazed upon countless formations to exquisite to describe. I tried to convince Ben and Joe to rest for a while, but they said the best thing to do was to keep trudging on. Of course they were able to rest while waiting for me to catch up!
Finally, we reached the lunch room. Something I recognized! I was allowed a short rest and we were off through the water barrier. After what seemed like an eternity, I saw the glow of the rope light. Now all I had to do was climb 120ft up a ladder!
The climb out did not take quite as long as I thought it would, one step at a time baby, one step at a time. When I did finally make it out, to my wonderment it was daylight outside. The time was 8:00am. We had spent 20 hours in Carroll Cave!
After changing into some decent clothes and stashing our gear, we voted on eating a hearty breakfast in town, after which we crashed near the old school house across the road from the silo. I woke up three hours later and drove back to Kansas City.
Side note: After comparing our survey notes with Bob Lerch, due to our survey efforts that night, it was determined that Carroll Cave was officially the 3rd longest Cave in Missouri!