Printable Version

Joe’s Cave
Camdem County
24 Nov 07
Cavers: Jim Cooley, Craig Hines, Seth Alley, Wayne Fitzner, DJ Hall, Justace Clutter, Marcelo Kramer from Natal Brazil, Shantanu Dikshit and Ali Soleimani.
Trip report by DJ Hall.

Over looking a large horse pasture, Joe’s cave is nestled against a craggy hillside a handful of yards from an old country dusty road. As we exited our vehicles, a couple of very large German Shepherds appeared from up the road, loudly announcing our presence to anyone within the distance of their sharp howls. Having suitably completed their guardian responsibilities, they quickly warmed up to us as we shared our morning snacks and began unpacking our gear.
The entrance to Joe’s Cave is a 15’ x 15’ open mouth with one brown tooth, a sign beholding the usual protective Missouri conservation statements. As we were swallowed by darkness as a pool of muddy water appeared, extending as far as our lights could shine. It’s murky surface rippled as one of the German Shepherds trounced on ahead without regard. A sharp eye would have noticed the numerous holes in the ceiling and walls, where pigeons and various other fowl nest; however, we were too busy forging ahead through the muddy water to notice at the time.
Clinging tightly to right edge of the pool, we waded through water that lapped 50 feet into the cave. This appeared to be the shallow side, reaching a depth of about 14 inches. When we expectantly reached dry ground, the passage turned slightly to the right and the ceiling chopped down to a height of about 9’. A moderate size guano pile silently announced itself on the left side of the passage and shortly thereafter was a dome in the ceiling about 12 foot high.
A few yards further, the passage split off to the north (left) into a 3 foot crawl extending about 120 ft containing some areas as low as 15 inches. Several bats were quietly roosting among the many signs of formations that once existed, vandalized by the ignorance of disrespectful spelunkers of the past.
On the way out of the northern side passage, there was a very tight crawl leading to the left. I spotted a light and noticed Craig at the other side of the crawl about 20’ away. The crawl led to the eastern end of the cave where it ended with a 10 foot long crawl into a small damp room with several different types of formations.
We hung out at the end of the cave for a few minutes while Wayne began checking out the dome we saw earlier. Upon careful inspection, he spotted a hole on the southeast side of the dome that appeared large enough to crawl through. Justace made a slight attempt to crawl up the dome, then Seth took a stab at it. We hoisted him up onto the shelf around the base of the dome and he snaked himself up into the hole and disappeared. I was next, and by standing on Jim Cooley’s shoulders, I squeezed myself into the hole that immediately opened into a passage to the right and to the left.
I yelled for Seth to determine which way we went; his reply came from the right, so I went to the left. The passage was a fairly narrow stoop about 4 feet high on average, winding and twisting past a few colorful formations and columns. After duck walking for about 50 feet, the passage curved around a large flowstone about 8 meters wide. Beyond this was a beautiful glittering corridor of soda straws up to 12” in length along with numerous stalactites, stalagmites and colorful moisture covered columns. One large column extended floor to ceiling about 3 feet with 8 inches in thickness. It was a tight squeeze past this column and ten feet further was a very nice rim stone dam containing many small deep, empty pools up to 8 inches in depth. Beyond the dam was a small alcove containing several bones of a small critter. The walls of this room contained many flowstones and columns.
With this being the extent of the passage, I made my way back to the dome room crawl where I had climbed up. Several of the other guys had wormed their way up and I squeezed past them to follow the passage Seth had taken. This passage was a bit easier to navigate, as it was a bit wider. It twisted a bit and extended for a couple hundred feet. It seemed the air was getting fresher and as I crawled past a hole in the floor, I looked down and saw daylight! The next hole in the floor was a bit larger and through the hole, because of the ambient light, I was able to see a large room covered with water. I immediately recognized this as the water pool near the entrance of the cave! We were actually in the ceiling near the entrance of the cave!
There were several pigeon nests and one even contained the aged remains of a pigeon carcass. This passage as a whole, did not contain very many formations or pretties, but the fact that it opened into the main cave near the entrance was a pleasant surprise.
Everyone made it into the upper passage including Jim Cooley who amazingly hoisted himself up into the dome all by his lonesome. I still don’t know how he did it!
We spent about an hour and a half exploring Joe’s Cave.