Horsethief Cave: Did We Find the Pancakes Yet?

Date: 03/26/2022
Author: Dustin Kisner
Participants: Tim Snell, Matt Miller

After a long and mostly caveless winter I was excited for the March Bighorn/Horsethief Project weekend. Unfortunately, due to a lack of participation, the weekend was canceled. Upset and still wanting to go caving I contacted Will. He set me up with tasks and gave me the contacts of those who did sign up to try to salvage a trip.

Will tasked us with route finding and flagging the U and F lines of the resurvey to their connection point. In addition we were entering leads into the JotForm app the project is now using. All of the leads marked prior to the project’s use of JotForm still need entered into the app. 

When Saturday March 26th rolled around Tim Snell, Matt Miller, and myself met at the Horsethief entrance at 9AM. I drove my Buick LeSabre to within 200 feet of the entrance, stopping at a small rock step on the road. After parking I saw that I could have skirted around and officially made it to the entrance. Nonetheless the road is Buick approved, whether this is a good or bad thing I will let you decide. 

We entered the cave and made our way through the entrance crawl and to the start of the U line. Following the U line we added several leads into Jotform and eventually found the last station placed by Brian, Ian and Ellen on the last survey trip. From this station we continued forward to mark the passage finding it already marked with pink survey tape with the survey designation CE. The CE line ended at CE28 and was dated July 04, 2000. At this point the walking passage diminished to several tight leads. I followed one which had tracks in it for 50ft before turning around. The passage and tracks continued. Near the end of the passage there were a few delicate areas in which trails should be marked.

We seemed to be in the Pancake Universe area however aside from a few possibly pancake shaped stacks of rocks we saw little to indicate so. It doesn’t seem that the cave stops here though, just branches into smaller leads, many of which have previous footprints. 

There were two junctions along the CE line. Both had survey tape and surveys branching off. One junction we assume is the F line junction. The other we assume is the last junction on the edge of the map. This junction has three branches, the CE line and two others. One was labeled as the way to the Road to Baghdad and the other headed up and looked good. We did not venture down either of these branches.Our team was tired and we still had half the cave trip left. 

We headed back toward the entrance to a larger connection between the U line and F line. Here we found pink flagging leading off into the darkness from the end of the F line. We assume it meets the U line where mentioned earlier, and is already flagged. We should have confirmed this however our team was ready to head toward the entrance. We followed the F line out, venturing to the Mindbender Pools to add a few more leads in the Jotform before we exited the cave. We surfaced around 5:30PM.

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Tim Snell
Tim Snell
May 27, 2022 5:48 am

Great report, Dustin! Thanks or leading that trip.