Wednesday, May 07, 2008

No cave to be found

A few weeks back Martin, Josh, Taw and I went up to where the Flight of the Gibbon is (the mountains over by Crazy Horse crag) to try to find "The cave that swallows up all the animals every night." We arranged to have a local guide (we ended up with two old thai dudes who are tough as nails) meet us up in the closest village on to take us to the cave. We loaded up our packs with ropes and everything and set off through the jungle to go try to find it. It is 3000 feet higher than chiang mai so the temps are not nearly as hot and then jungle is pristine and incredible.
So off we go up a steep old logging road for a couple of kilometers and then finally turn off it and start to head out through the bush. We quickly drop into a really steep ravine and start plunging down towards the drainage. As we are hiking along we find out that our guides have never actually been to the cave and the only beta that they have is that it is at the base of a white cliff. So we are tromping around looking for what looks like a white cliff. Of course, me being the geologist am looking at my feet and trying to scope the topography looking for limestone. All I can see is granite and nothing out in the distance that looks like limestone. But what do I know, these two old dudes know the area like the back of their hand and if there is cave out here, then they will find it. We finally get down to the creek in the bottom, scratch out heads a bit then head upstream for 5 minutes through dense jungle bananas and thick bamboo. Nope, wrong way (and still no limestone anywhere). We turn around and head downstream. Josh is behind me and I hear him yelp a bit. I ask him if he is o.k. and he says he is fine but that he found a leach on his shoe. No big deal, he brushes it off. After a bit, we come to an incoming drainage that head steeply up a ravine and towards "the white cliff" Ok. up we go.

Still no cave and I was starting to become pretty damn sure that there is no limestone at all in this ravine. It would just be impossible to have any based on the landscape and what I know of how limestone is deposited. Still we press on. Finally we leave the leach infested (josh pulled two off his leg) gully and head up the slope to find a cliff. At this point now, I think we had all decided that we were not going to find a cave today but the guides still wanted to go look around the corner. I was game because it was quite pretty and there is always a chance we could find a cave. After more climbing and discussion the guides mentioned that what we were looking for is a rock cave. I don't know how that translates exactly but I'm think that we are now looking for a talus cave. Could still be cool, but certainly not going to be the grand new cave discovery of thailand.
Well after more scrambling and traversing we start to break out of the brush into orchid filled open forests with a gentle breeze and plenty a shade trees. Taw said "yen sabai" cause it felt so nice to have cool air blowing on us. A first in weeks.
So after a while we summited the peak which turn out to be the tallest peak for at least 100km in every direction (we looked at a map later). Despite the haze it was quite lovely and we had a good snack when this big full round leach falls out of Josh's pants.
Where did that come from? We all looked at each other and josh started to feel around his legs for more. As he is bending down, we notice a bloody patch on his butt. Sure enough Jetzl (as the leach became known) had found a nice spot in between Josh's cheeks to suck a little blood. Leaches use an anti-coagulate to allow them to draw blood and when they are finished they leave this stuff behind. So the blood patch on Josh grew larger and larger. It looked a bit strange.

So no cave. We descended back to the truck (there was a nice semi-direct ridge to the truck).

We get back to the village and talk to the flight of gibbons people a bit more. They offer to send us on the canopy zipline your for free so off we go to go zip around super tall trees.
As we were zipping around, we talked with our zipping guides a bit about what we had done and they told us more about this cave.
It turns out that one of the guys had talked to the guy who had found the cave and that it was a hole in the ground that when this dude came to it, a dear ran out of it. He looked around a bit more and found bear and tiger tracks (i doubt the tiger part) and he went back to the village and told people he found a great hunting spot because all the animals go to this place. People were excited about our trip today because we were going to go in the cave and find out why the animals were going into the cave and if indeed it was a great hunting spot.
What I think is that there is little hole where some rocks make a small talus cave and that for some reason animals go there to get water or to get out of the heat. So we were following a legend that is really just a hunting story. Oh well. Seems like we should have asked around a little first, but still it was a great hike through an area that is truly wild.


  1. Did Morris decide to bring Jetzl back home with him?

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