Trip Report: Clarksville Cave, New York

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Trip Report: Clarksville Cave, New York

Postby wendy » Nov 14, 2006 10:02 pm

I went up to Boston, Mass this weekend for a girl weekend with my best friend. She is a non-caver and lives in Alaska, so we figured, we would meet up in Boston and do the tourist thing. She knows I like to go caving and said she didn't mind if I went. So I contacted caver Steve of the Boston Grotto. I met up with Steve and his wife, Joanna (I hope I am getting everyone's names right) at a park and ride on the Mass Pike and from there we followed them to another exit to meet up with Laura, another caver from Mass. We continued on into New York and got off the interstate and down some back roads thru small towns til we reached Clarksville. We met up with 4 folks from Canada, Stephanie, Julie, Alex, and Julian (again I hope I got the names right). One of them had only been in a cave once, and two were 'cave virgins'. So now that we were all together you'd think we would go caving, but we had lunch first. There just happens to be a restuarant called June's right by the cave, so we ate, they had pretty good food. And then we moved the cars up to the 'official' parking area, so we wouldn't be taking up all the spots at the restaurant. My friend and Steve's wife both waited in the cars cuz they had some work and studying to do (Steve's wife is a caver though).

So we walked up this nice trail and there was an info kiosk with a map of the cave and some caving safety info, etc.

Clarksville Cave is managed by the Northeastern Cave Conservancy. It is a popular horizontal cave in Albany County, NY in the town of Clarksville. It has about 4800 feet of passage and 3 entrances. I think it was the Ward entrance that we entered. Anyway it pretty much puts you in the middle of the cave.

First we headed to the part of the cave called the Lake Room. And it had a lake in it. :grin: The lake was 12' deep. There were some little side passages but they were in waist deep water or higher, and since we made it to this part of the cave in like 35 mins and we had more cave to do I decided not to get all wet just yet. Oh so as soon as we got in the cave we could hear the water. Yep it was stream passage. It was about ankle deep. And about 47ºF. Brrrr. So we hung out in the lake room for a little bit and then turned around and headed back towards the entrance. So we passed the entrance and headed to the other end of the cave toward an area called the bath tub. I think this end had more pretty stuff to look at. There were some fossils of crinoids (I call these cave cheerios cuz that's what they remind me of) and actually got to see some that were still long pieces still intact. Also saw some cross sections of horn coral, and other bi-valve shells. Getting to see fossils of shells reminded me of Florida caving. Oh and as far as to what the limestone in the cave was like, it was hard and smooth (kinda like the rocks in the entrance of PettiJohns Cave up in TAG). We also saw some little tiny bats here and there thru out the cave.

Past the bath tub area was another body of water, this one was about mid thigh deep on me, and very, very cold. But on the other side a little ways away was a nice 2 or 3 foot waterfall that was about 10 feet long. So getting to see that was worth the the thigh deep water.

So then we headed back out to the entrance we entered in. We were in the cave for just over 3 hours. It was dark out when we got out (the sun sets at like 4:30pm up there). We all gathered around for our after photo and then changed out of our wet and muddy clothes. My toes and butt were numb. I cranked up the heat in my rental car as much as I could without catching my non-caving friend on fire as she sat in the passenger seat.

It was a nice cave and I had a really nice time. I liked being able to go on a trip with brand new cavers cuz I got to point things out to them. Also since they were from Canada (one just moved there from France last year and another was from Romania originally) I had to explain about yelling rock if you knock a loose rock or something down so the person behind you knows to watch out, but I had to tell them to make sure they yelled it in english and not French. I am used to bi-lingual caving, but usually in Spanish and not French,. So I learned rock in French, roche. Everyone was super nice and did a great job caving. I hope the newbies stick with it and get to do more caving.

Oh and this was my 50th cave!!! :woohoo:
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Postby Vadosian » Nov 15, 2006 12:13 am

Right on Wendy! Excellent report!

I visualized your whole report in my mind while reading!

Glad you are back safe and sound!

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Postby barcelonacvr » Nov 15, 2006 8:47 am

Great report Wendy! I am glad you enjoyed yourself.Clarksville is a fun cave and now you know the temps we dive in (and colder :)

Maybe one day you can get a chance to dive the 1000 ft plus(?) dive extension in the lake room . ... in0390.htm

Did you have the pleasure of meeting Emily at Speleobooks?

BTW ...Brett has a great blog with specatacular Clarksville and area photos,if you have not seen his blog. ... e_cav.html
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Postby graveleye » Nov 15, 2006 10:18 am

I concur, really great report Wendy:)

Combined with the pictures I could really get a feel for what you got to see. Good work, looked like a lot of fun:)
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Postby Sean Ryan » Nov 15, 2006 12:59 pm

Clarksville is one the favorite caves in the Northeast. It can handle a lot of traffic, and does so every weekend. To get out the other two entrances you would have had to either crawl out the Thook passage (a long unpleasant crawl so named because someone was poking the ground with a stick to see where a third entrance might be, and heard a THOOK), or do a near-sump in that cold water. Coming out the historic entrance is the least-exhausting way. Glad you liked your trip.
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Postby erebus » Nov 15, 2006 3:18 pm

I think this end had more pretty stuff to look at.

At one time (mid-1960s), that end was very heavily decorated with flowstone, rimstone dams, and forests of soda straws. Since then, it's been stripped. The "near-sump" is the reason the decorations lasted as long as they did - it was a full sump until 1963. The passage you entered through was dug out the next year, after some map-overlaying.
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Postby cavemanjonny » Nov 16, 2006 11:07 pm

Very nice report, I enjoyed it a lot!
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Postby Evan G » Nov 18, 2006 11:20 pm

Very well written!! I enjoyed it!
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Postby kmstill » Dec 6, 2006 11:15 pm

Great report- I got out to Clarksville a couple times when I lived in NY. Fun cave and a good trip for taking beginners with the outing clup. Been out the Thook crawl - doesn't seem as bad in memory, and once your done, your out! Thanks for stirring up the memories. Kelly
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Re: Trip Report: Clarksville Cave, New York

Postby kcito » Dec 12, 2009 9:58 am

Clarksville Cave is one of my favorites!
You did a great job on reporting, Wendy. I am so glad that you went to the "bathtub". :kewl:
Always in search of an adventure...
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Re: Trip Report: Clarksville Cave, New York

Postby tncaver » Dec 12, 2009 10:21 am

That was an excellent trip report Wendy. You went to WNS territory in 2006 when the outbreak first began and
have been back South ever since and yet there has been no WNS reported in your area. That says a lot and I wonder how
many more examples of this non transmission of WNS by cavers has occurred? Sorry to use your trip as an example, but your trip speaks volumes as yet another example of non caver vector of WNS. Quite frankly, lots of cavers from up North have been coming South since many of their caves have been closed, yet WNS has not been reported in the caves they visited. I won't mention any names but some of their pictures with brief descriptions have been posted on Online Cavers and the image scroller at the bottom of this forum. This has been going on for years yet no WNS has been reported in the caves that our Northern visitors have been to. :banana_yay:
Last edited by tncaver on Dec 17, 2009 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip Report: Clarksville Cave, New York

Postby Steve S » Dec 12, 2009 6:45 pm

Hi Wendy, I liked your report on Clarksville. Next time you're out that way be sure to check out the "ladder dig", another smaller cave on the same property. It's about a 50' pit with some short passages running off in different directions. Just be careful on the ladder, its not the safest thing in the world.
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Re: Trip Report: Clarksville Cave, New York

Postby PYoungbaer » Dec 16, 2009 8:19 pm


I'll join the chorus about your great trip report. Glad you and your crew enjoyed the most visited wild cave in the Northeast (thousands each year), and one of the treasures of the Northeastern Cave Conservancy NCC).

That said, as WNS Liaison and as Vice President of the NCC, you and others need to know that Clarksville is a WNS site. Although its bat population is was very small (less than 50 in any count I'm aware of), they have been found to have WNS. I'm glad to hear that you actually saw some, given the devastation most of our bat populations have experienced.

As such, the NCC hopes that you were provided with local gear that remained in the northeast. If not, we hope you have thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated your gear, and that you will refrain from using it outside the WNS-affected area.

One of the considerations the NCC had for re-opening Clarksville and several of its other caves was to keep options open for area cavers to continue to cave, especially a cave like Clarksville, which as you know from your visit, is right in the center of the village. It would be virtually impossible to enforce any closure. Such a move would attract vandalism, not only to the cave, but to neighboring properties, which those landowners made clear to us when we were debating how to manage this site during this WNS era. As no additional harm could come to the bats anyway, keeping this extremely popular cave open also relieves pressure on other caves and landowners.

We also provide WNS information, and other safe-caving information at the site's kiosk, including warning cavers to decon and not use their gear outside the region. We hope that this information was conveyed to you before/after your trip.

As cave managers, we are trying to balance cave access with bat conservation. You can read our deliberations here: We hope to keep Clarksville and other caves open using a common sense approach. We welcome cavers from anywhere to visit the NCC caves, but suggest you contact local cavers to borrow gear. We will be glad to assist.
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Re: Trip Report: Clarksville Cave, New York

Postby Spike » Dec 17, 2009 10:10 am


You may not have noticed that Wendy's trip report was from November of 2006. As I far as I know this was before any confirmed cases of WNS.
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Re: Trip Report: Clarksville Cave, New York

Postby PYoungbaer » Dec 17, 2009 1:43 pm

DOH! :doh:

I saw the date of the most recent entry and figured it was all the same.

Still, doesn't hurt to remind folks how we're trying to manage northeastern caves.
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