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  1. #1

    Default Lafayette Blue 31 Dec 2016

    The chilly morning of the last day of 2016, Kelly Jessop and I met for a dive at Lafayette Blue.

    Summary: Good viz -- perhaps 40-ish feet. Low flow. This time of year, almost no mosquitoes. Great dive!

    Details: We met in the woods by Kitty Sink. We planned to enter and exit at Trap Sink, BUT . . . The path to Trap was blocked by both a fallen rotten tree in once spot, and by some near-freshly cut logs and brush piled on the path at another spot. We couldn't park any closer to Trap. Since I didn't want to walk that far wearing heavy BM doubles, we elected to enter/exit at Kitty instead.

    Kitty had clear water below duckweed cover. NOTE: The steps are in bad shape, so exercise caution. Water level is a couple of feet below the bottom step, so I had to kneel below the steps and crawl into and out of the water. Hard on the drysuit, but doable.

    After descent down the line into the cave, we went downstream to Green Sink, back to Kitty, then upstream to Trap, and back to Kitty to exit. Interesting formations in the cave. Lots of fossils. Lots of critters. Plenty of places to get off the line for a closer look at the cave.

    Conditions were unusually good due to recent dry months. That may change if we get lots of rain in the metropolitan Mayo/Luraville area.

    I was especially fortunate to dive Lafayette Blue with someone who knows the system as well as Kelly does, since that was my first dive there. (Thanks, Kelly!) I'll return for more.

    Overall, a great last dive of 2016.

    - Sid


  2. #2
    Member
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    About a month ago we dove the headspring on Kelly's recommendation. We had hoped for good viz but didn't get it. Went in through the head spring and had 10 foot viz at best. There were literally 100s of catfish everywhere. The line from the headspring to the first resurgence was buried very deep in spots and had to be gapped, and there were tree limbs stuck on the line. Kelly had described the dive, but in retrospect I wish I had also walked to look at the resurgences to see exactly what we were diving to. We didn't realize the long distance from where you exit the resurgences and then enter back into the cave. We made it to the first resurgence and started running line to gap the sink. When we got about 5ft deep the flow was intense. With the bad viz and buried line, we decided to call it a day. When we went to scout the sinks/resurgences I realized that the flow we felt was actually a vortex being formed on the surface from the syphoning into the headspring tunnel. Had we just swam 20ft further we would have been out of it.

    We went to go check out Kitty and Trap. We didn't really know where they were, and the hunter saw us looking around and came to show us where to go. The rotten log was there as you saw it, but not the other stuff. The hunter told us it was safe to walk the property so we looked around a bit. We went up to trap which looked very clear. We walked 20 ft further and came across a game camera and the tree stand. I'm not sure if the hunters put more debris down to keep us from getting so close to their hunting spot or not. Kitty was a few feet below the stairs as you said and the stairs looked treacherous. We considered moving the downed log to the side, but weren't sure who the property belongs to and if divers were actually allowed to drive up to trap. So we left it alone.

    It's nice to hear it's clear. The week after we were there it rained heavily, so I assumed the viz was going to suffer. We've been wanting to go in at trap, but didn't want to make the trip to get 10 ft viz like we had in the headspring.

    We had fun on our dive eventhough it was a crappy dive by most standards. I had meant to post a report and forgot until I saw this.


  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by rddvet View Post
    We went to go check out Kitty and Trap. We didn't really know where they were, and the hunter saw us looking around and came to show us where to go. The rotten log was there as you saw it, but not the other stuff. The hunter told us it was safe to walk the property so we looked around a bit. We went up to trap which looked very clear. We walked 20 ft further and came across a game camera and the tree stand. I'm not sure if the hunters put more debris down to keep us from getting so close to their hunting spot or not. Kitty was a few feet below the stairs as you said and the stairs looked treacherous. We considered moving the downed log to the side, but weren't sure who the property belongs to and if divers were actually allowed to drive up to trap. So we left it alone.

    .
    The road to Trap from Kitty is owned by the current owner,but the original road to Trap off the Blue Springs park road, which is chained, doesn't have a right away to Trap, and that owner doesn't want people to enter on his property. The road to Trap from Kitty as you described has a dead tree that has fallen,which looks caused by Mother Nature,but the other pile of logs looks intentional to keep people from passing. This area is heavily hunted and not wise to ridgewalk,and some owners have a dislike for people on their property,so make sure you know where you are. I did talk to the Kitty sink owner about the road to Trap,because Trap is a very nice place to enter, and reminds me of Jug Hole in that the little surface opening doesn't represent the size of the room underneath. Everything can be fixed with 15 to 30 min with a chainsaw.

    "Not all change is improvement...but all improvement is change" Donald Berwick

  4. #4
    Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Jessop View Post
    The road to Trap from Kitty is owned by the current owner,but the original road to Trap off the Blue Springs park road, which is chained, doesn't have a right away to Trap, and that owner doesn't want people to enter on his property. The road to Trap from Kitty as you described has a dead tree that has fallen,which looks caused by Mother Nature,but the other pile of logs looks intentional to keep people from passing. This area is heavily hunted and not wise to ridgewalk,and some owners have a dislike for people on their property,so make sure you know where you are. I did talk to the Kitty sink owner about the road to Trap,because Trap is a very nice place to enter, and reminds me of Jug Hole in that the little surface opening doesn't represent the size of the room underneath. Everything can be fixed with 15 to 30 min with a chainsaw.

    We originally looked for kitty/trap from the blue springs road by walking over the chain. We quickly realized we shouldn't be there then went looking more. We were just by the kitty entrance but saw the gate ahead and thought we may be trespassing so turned around. That's when the hunter who says he owned the property behind that gate straight behind kitty showed us the way. Is the property between kitty and trap owned by the same person who owns kitty? I'd happily clear some of that to be able to go in at trap, but don't want to do something to anger the owner. Getting from kitty to trap in sm wouldn't be too tough. Walking it in bm wouldn't be the most fun. I have a store bought version of the jug cart, maybe I'll just take it up there to get us to trap and leave the debris alone.
    So it opens up quite a bit under trap? We wondered about that.


  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by rddvet View Post
    We originally looked for kitty/trap from the blue springs road by walking over the chain. We quickly realized we shouldn't be there then went looking more. We were just by the kitty entrance but saw the gate ahead and thought we may be trespassing so turned around. That's when the hunter who says he owned the property behind that gate straight behind kitty showed us the way. Is the property between kitty and trap owned by the same person who owns kitty? I'd happily clear some of that to be able to go in at trap, but don't want to do something to anger the owner. Getting from kitty to trap in sm wouldn't be too tough. Walking it in bm wouldn't be the most fun. I have a store bought version of the jug cart, maybe I'll just take it up there to get us to trap and leave the debris alone.
    So it opens up quite a bit under trap? We wondered about that.
    It is the same owner for Trap and Kitty, but rule of thumb if there is a fence or chain,don't cross it,because as they say in the south, "they don't cotton to trespassers". (The ultimate story is the Metzger story which goes into cave diving lore). The owner cut a road from Kitty at the back of the parking area to Trap,but there are fallen trees and large branches, which would be easy to clean up with a chainsaw and some muscle.

    Yes, Trap is a small opening,but big room. When viz is marginal you will drift down into a big void following line before you see a wall or the floor. Trap is one of my favorite entrance points,but since it is a small basin, teams limited two is best.

    "Not all change is improvement...but all improvement is change" Donald Berwick

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Jessop View Post
    It is the same owner for Trap and Kitty, but rule of thumb if there is a fence or chain,don't cross it,because as they say in the south, "they don't cotton to trespassers". (The ultimate story is the Metzger story which goes into cave diving lore). The owner cut a road from Kitty at the back of the parking area to Trap,but there are fallen trees and large branches, which would be easy to clean up with a chainsaw and some muscle.

    Yes, Trap is a small opening,but big room. When viz is marginal you will drift down into a big void following line before you see a wall or the floor. Trap is one of my favorite entrance points,but since it is a small basin, teams limited two is best.
    As I posted right around Thanksgiving, I did have a great dive going in through the Trap (based on a suggestion from Kelly while working on the stairs at Martz). Vis seems to have only improved since then. I did talk to the owner before the dive, he gave me the heads up regarding the high level of hunting going on in the area. It might be nice if "we" arranged a work party to work on the stairs there, I am sure the owner would grant his permission.


  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by kidsdream View Post
    As I posted right around Thanksgiving, I did have a great dive going in through the Trap (based on a suggestion from Kelly while working on the stairs at Martz). Vis seems to have only improved since then. I did talk to the owner before the dive, he gave me the heads up regarding the high level of hunting going on in the area. It might be nice if "we" arranged a work party to work on the stairs there, I am sure the owner would grant his permission.
    I am sure he would greatly appreciate the labor and would probably loan the tools. Unlike Martz, it can be done in a couple hours if everything was precut before going out there.

    "Not all change is improvement...but all improvement is change" Donald Berwick

  8. #8

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    I'd like to help on such a project. I'll be on the lookout for upcoming cleanup and build weekends.


  9. #9

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    For the NSS convention in Lake City, FL. there was a guide book for attendees, and I did several submissions, and one was on Lafayette Blue. The property owners that occupy the area have never been fond of trespassers,but there is one incident that occurred that I included in the guide book I would like to share here.

    “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way From the Cave….
    Jeffrey Bozanic

    Susan and I dragged our weary bodies towards the campfire at Ginnie Springs. It was after 10 pm, and we were hungry, cold, and tired. “Where have you guys been?” we were asked. “We expected you hours ago!”

    “Have we got a cave diving story for you!,” was our reply….

    It was December 31, 1984. I was up from school at Miami to run the 24th CDS Cave Diving Workshop (I was Workshop Chairman), and to go to Ginnie Springs for the annual New Year’s Eve party. It was early, so Susan Drake (from Tallahassee) and I decided we would drive north and dive somewhere we had not been before. After talking to someone (I cannot remember if it was Wes Skiles or Lamar Hires), we decided on Green Sink in the Lafayette Blue System.

    It was a pleasant drive, and after poking around a bit we found the sink. As we drove up, we found that a large group of somewhat disreputable looking motorcyclists appeared to have ensconced themselves at the opening for the day, presumably to celebrate the coming of the New Year. Given the noise level and the number of empty beverage containers strewn around the vicinity, it was apparent that the festivities were already in full swing, even though it was still early afternoon. Wishing to avoid any conflict, we decided discretion was the better part of valor, and decided to dive one of the many other openings in the area.

    We drove back on dirt roads until we found a likely looking spot. Near the entrance was an old, deserted cabin. Windows were broken, trash decorated the front and porch, paint was peeling (where it was visible), and it reeked of abandonment. We called out several times just to be sure, but the only answer was silence.

    We took our time suiting up, and finally entered the water just after 4:00 pm. The visibility at the entrance was very poor, maybe five feet or so, but gradually improved to between 15 and 30 feet as we moved into the system. Flow was low, and the bottom very silty. Parts of the cave were quite low, and occasionally we stirred up some silt as we traversed the system. There was a thermocline at about 35 ffw in depth.

    I spent most of the time looking for and collecting animals. In particular I was looking for crustaceans to send to Jill Yager, to be forwarded on to Beep Hobbs and John Holsinger. In my collection bottle were amphipods, isopods, and crayfish.

    This was my second dive using the newly released Edge dive computer. I had invited Craig Barshinger, the designer of the computer, to speak at the workshop in Branford, and he had brought several of the units up with him. This was the first commercially available electronic dive computer that actually worked, and I loved it! The day before in Devil’s Ear it had saved me 53 minutes of decompression time, and I could see that it would be a great tool for cave diving… if I could only figure out how to afford one!

    We swam past two openings to the surface, and finally turned the dive at the third one we reached (Brenda Sink). After a pleasant dive of an hour and a quarter, we returned to where we had started, and climbed out of the water… just in time to see Susan’s car disappearing into the distance behind a tow truck! This was our first shock of the day.

    Our second came moments later, as a wild man waving what appeared to my eyes to be a very large shotgun started ranting and raving at us. “What the **** are you doing on my property?! Who the **** do you think you are?! Get your ****ing asses over here, NOW!! I’ve already called the sheriff, and you ****ing stand right there and wait for him!!”

    Mind you, I am not particularly accustomed to firearms, especially when the business end is pointed in my direction. When combined with the lunatic at the other end of the weapon, my thoughts were anything but sanguine! I began to shrug off my double 104s, only to be bathed in yet more of my new friend’s vindictive language, “STOP! Your ****ing ##### can take her stuff off, but you keep your ****ing #### on and ****ing stand right there!”

    I attempted to reason with him, but he was having none of it. Anything Susan attempted to interject was met with the reply, “Shut up, #####!” So we continued to stand there listening to his very one-sided exposition until the sheriff arrived, some 45 minutes (seemed like hours!) later. One of the things he yelled was, “I couldn’t decide if I should slash your tires and blast a few holes in your car, or just call the sheriff!” I’m glad he chose the latter option!

    Deputy Herman Frier had the man put his gun away, and pulled him off to the side to talk to him. He also gave me permission to take my equipment off, which by that point in time was beginning to feel like an elephant was sitting on my back. After five or ten minutes, he returned, had us load gear, and drove us off.

    Frier cited us for trespassing, and told us while we were technically under arrest, he was letting us go on our own recognizance. He said that the property owner, Jerry Metzger, had the right to press charges, and that we might have to return to the county for trial, but that he would try to calm him down and prevent that from occurring.

    He informed us that Metzger used to ride with the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang in Los Angeles, and after ten years had “retired” to his home (yes, the shack) here. He did not like company (obviously), as he was afraid that someone would eventually be coming to repay some of his earlier (undisclosed) “kindnesses” while he was active with the Hell’s Angels.

    Apparently Sheck Exley had befriended Metzger some time previously, and had passed the word through the community to avoid his sinkhole as a dive site. Frier asked us to renew that advice throughout the community. Judging by the gales of laughter from those listening to us around the campfire as our tale unfolded, we were successful in that effort!

    At any rate, by the time we finished, ate something, and warmed up, it was time to go diving again. Susan and I celebrated the New Year with 61 other divers in Ginnie, having learned a new lesson… know where you are before you go diving! We were never called to trial, so I guess charges were dropped, and the only real cost of the adventure was the $20 (a lot of money then for a poor graduate student) I had to fork over to the tow truck operator to get Susan’s car out of hock. Fortunately, the rest of the next year went much better!

    "Not all change is improvement...but all improvement is change" Donald Berwick

  10. #10

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    Great story Kelly!

    - Jeff

    Jeff Rouse
    Chicago, IL


 

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