Cattle Cave Survey
Northwest Oklahoma
March 19-20, 2005
Sue Bozeman, John Bozeman, Dale Town,
Jon Woltz, Tomas Izo, and Rob Jagnow

"Just one thing. I don't really know if I'm claustrophobic."

At this point, Tomas and I were already several hours into our drive from New Mexico to Oklahoma, so we weren't about to turn around. "I'm sure that if you are claustrophobic, you would have figured that out by now," I said reassuringly.

My boyfriend Tomas was visiting me in New Mexico for his Spring Break, so at my suggestion, we decided to accept an invitation to assist with mapping Cattle Cave in Northwest Oklahoma. Although Tomas had been in a few commercial caves in the past, he was a little intimiated by the knowledge that the invitation to participate had only been extended to "skinny people."

The survey of Cattle Cave was all but complete. The last step was to try to tie a nearby entrance into the main passageway. At the end of the potential spur is a narrow slit that drops down into the cave floor and heads directly for the surveyed portion of the cave. On the day of our survey, we could feel a breeze blowing from the unexplored passage - a sure sign that there's a large expanse of air on the other side. However, noone is really certain where it might merge with the main system.

Tomas at the entrance to Cattle Cave Tomas at the entrance to Cattle Cave
Tomas in Green's Cathedral Tomas in Green's Cathedral
A selenite crystal in Green's Cathedral A selenite crystal in Green's Cathedral
After taking some quick cave-mapping lessons from Sue, the group split up into two teams. John, Sue and Tomas started from the crack and surveyed toward the entrance. Dale and Jon and I slid down into a narrow slit in the floor and worked our into the unknown.

With the exception of some poor compass readings caused by John's glasses, team one had no problems and managed to quickly complete their survey. For the rest of us, it was slow-going from the very start. The slot starts out about 10 feet high and 18 inches across - at least large enough for us to turn around. As we moved north, the crack grew in height, but rapidly narrowed to about 10 inches. We could see where we wanted to go, but even with our bodies turned to the side, our helmets were simply too wide to move forward.

After surveying for about 50 feet, it was too tight to continue. The three of us slowly backed out, unable to even turn our heads until we were within 20 feet of the opening.

Had the weather conditions been such that the passage was sucking air rather than blowing it, we could have placed a smoke bomb in the crack in an effort to find where it connects with the main passageway. But that will ultimately have to wait for another weekend.

And Tomas, by the way, is most decidely not claustrophobic.

A lone pipistrelle A lone pipistrelle
Cave coral on a stalactite in Green's Cathedral Cave coral on a stalactite in Green's Cathedral
Abandoned passenger car Abandoned passenger car
A traditional windmill, dwarfed by 220-foot tall generators A traditional windmill, dwarfed by modern, 220-foot generators
Endless Oklahoma fields Endless Oklahoma fields

© Copyright 2005 by Rob Jagnow.