Sliding to Success: Rediscovering Memorial Day Cave (2)

Date of Trip: August 3rd, 2019
Participants: Ray MacNeil (Psychology)

This is a follow up on a previous trip report I posted during the spring, and which is accessible via this link: https://www.ubc-voc.com/2019/05/16/preliminary-reconnaissance-rediscovering-memorial-day-cave.

In contrast to the rather long and rambling account given for my first (Memorial Day) excursion, I am going to make this one comparatively shorter (sorry to disappoint those who love detail). As previously detailed, I had identified some karst features that helped narrow down my search radius for any subsequent trip(s). Unlike my previous hike, there was no snow on the ground, and I had not been carrying such a heavy pack (as my intention was solely to locate the cave). Thus, the total time required to ascend to the area of interest was about 60-70 minutes. This time around, I did think to photograph some of the obstacles that a 4WD vehicle would be required to circumvent. Most sporting, perhaps, is the stream crossing:

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View of the washed out section of Sleese-Borden Creek FSR.

However, I’ve since learned that there other potential means of approach, should this be too hairy for a 4WD. For interest, I’ve also included a photograph of the washed out section of previously existing trail. On my way up I had spotted a black bear, likely an adult male, feasting on berries about 30ft in front of me. I have a lot of respect for bears, and while it is certainly ideal to avoid such encounters, I also couldn’t deny that such encounters – should they occur – can be absolutely magical. After it had spotted me, the bear immediately became spooked and darted off in the opposite direction. I attempted to get a photograph as it receded into the distance, but could not recover anything worthwhile.

As an aside, I recently encountered reports that there is a population of grizzlies in the northern Cascadia, especially within Washington. As such, I shall be equipping myself with bear spray on any subsequent trips to the area. I don’t mean to suggest that human-black bear encounters don’t have the potential to be dangerous, but these events (for obvious reasons, I think) are usually more innocuous – that is, should the encounter not be one that is most typical (the bear runs away). I recommend that anyone travelling in bear country familiarize themselves with bear behaviour and to further note that there is a different response strategy that one should adopt depending on whether it is a grizzly or black bear that is encountered. There are also certain behavioural signs to look for, which give clues as to whether the bear is being defensive or aggressive. Anyhow, always take appropriate precautions, and respect that you are in their territory.

So, getting back to the main story…as mentioned, I had narrowed down my search radius. Shortly after initiating my search, more clues indicating the nearby presence of a cave had rapidly emerged. These clues were even more compelling than those I had previously documented, so I became even more confident that I was on the right track. See the photographs I captured below:

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Eventually I came upon the ridges of a limestone outcrop that I had previously noted as likely to be housing the cave. I was delicately ridge walking, peering down for clues that would indicate the presence of an entrance. Before long, an inward depression in the ridge had centered upon my gaze. This had strongly lifted my spirits, and especially so given that nearby was another feature that archival descriptions had noted was within close proximity to the entrance. I gently continued along the ridge, looking for a safe route to descend the steep, moss-covered, limestone outcrop. Just as I located a possible route down, I lost my footing, fell flat to my stomach and rapidly begun to slide down the ledge. After sliding about ten feet, I managed to grab hold of a tree. Fortunately, the incident only left me with a few minor scratches. Importantly, right there to my left – in my triumphant delight – was what appeared to be a cave entrance! After recovering my cellphone that had been launched from out of my pocket during the fall, I went to inspect and document the suspected entrance. However, not before observing the consequences of my fall and noting that I had exponentially sped up “erosional processes” …it is regrettable that I had to destroy this vegetation in the process of my (re)discovery, and I resolve to be more careful in the future.

Indeed, it was confirmed to be a bona fide entrance, opening up to going passage, as shown in the photographs/video below. It is very crawly, however, but this is in keeping with previous reports on Memorial. I didn’t want to go far inside of the cave, as my helmet and light were cached about 250 metres away, and dusk had already been approaching. While I had initially planned to return and take another look (with helmet and light), I had decided against this in the end. All in all, it was certainly a successful trip, and it was with glee and enthusiasm that I descended back to my car.

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Video:
Sliding to Success!

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