Alabaster Cave, 5 Nov 2017 · Index · Vertical training, Apr 2018

Trip Report: Millrace Cave, January 27th, 2018

NMT Caving Club,

Trip leader: David Hunter

Attending: Alyssa, Anthony, Eshani, Evelyn, John, Madison, Mendi, and Morelia

As discussed in a prior trip report, Millrace cave is a gypsum cave carved out where an arroyo carved a path through gypsum under an old lava flow. As we once again have access to the cave, it is now a good beginners cave for the NMT Caving Club.

The club has grown a little over the past few years, so we had a total of 9 people this trip. That is about as large of a group as is manageable, especially in a cave like this. Only David and Eshani had been to this cave before, and this was the first trip for several of the cavers. Fortunately, the hike to Millrace cave is not very long, even if this picture makes it appear otherwise.

Hiking over to the entry.

The group near the entry.

As usual, the weather forecast was carefully monitored prior the the trip, and the weather checked prior to entry. You do not want to be in this cave when it floods. It takes a good bit of rain to cause a flash flood, but needlessly entering this cave when there is a chance of rain is too risky.

The group ready to go into Millrace Cave.

Just inside the cave is an open area where the various passages fork. A couple obvious ones go downward at a moderate slope. Another, hidden under the rocks, goes down a lot faster. This is also a good spot to check your lights and give your eyes time to adjust to the dark.

Near the entry of Millrace cave.

Like many gypsum caves, the passages in Millrace are generally long and narrow. In places they are also braided, if not on a very large scale. The narrow passages also make large groups a bit unwieldy.

The group squeezed into the narrow braided passage.

The passage was blocked by pool of which could be waded or crossed using a climbing technique called chimneying. Much to my surprise, most of the group was able to chimney over. And, denying us an entertaining photo, nobody fell in!

Speaking of photos, the pool was NOT that strange green color. I accidentally hit the automatically-screw-up-the-photo option on the camera and didn't realize it until later in the trip. This option also disabled the saving of raw files, making harder it correct the mess later on. More and more, new "smart" features just make a product worse.

Chimneying over a pool in Millrace Cave.

Even Eshani was able to chimney over the pool without getting her feet wet!

Chimneying over a pool in Millrace Cave.

After traveling a ways past the first pool, this passage ended in another pool. Despite her best efforts, Eshani was unable to chimney over and had to wade it - only to verify that it was the end of the line.

A pool at the end of a passage in Millrace Cave.

After returning to the junction near the entry, several of us took a look at the lower passage.

Lower passage.

The walls of this passage are nicely sculpted by the flood waters.

A gypsum fin sculpted into the wall of Millrace Cave.

This passage quickly leads to a large drop-off. I don't know the exact height, but 20ft is a good guess. There is supposed to be a way around this drop but we did not find it on this trip. The passage continues on the right side of this photo, waiting until we either find the bypass passage or obtain proper vertical training.

Large drop-off in Millrace Cave.

Despite a hard day of caving, Eshani was as happy as ever when exiting from the pile of boulders covering the entry to the lower passage.

Eshani exiting the lower passage.

As usual, after the trip we returned to Socorro to clean and decon the gear.

Alabaster Cave, 5 Nov 2017 · Index · Vertical training, Apr 2018

Last Updated: Feb 2018; Original Posting.

© David C. Hunter, 2018
nmtcaver {at) dragonsdawn (dot] org

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