2010 NSS Cave Ballad Salon

Maglite Reggae
@2003 Howard Hurtt

You know you supposed to have three sources of light, of course you do,
And you got to bring the right gear to do the pits you know that too.
So you will never end up like the bozo this tragedy happens to…

He went into a big cave with a little Maglight
He didn’t worry ‘bout the batteries; they work fine last night
He go hand over hand down a sixty-foot pit on a clothesline
By all right she shoulda snuffed it but he made it to the bottom just fine.

He looked around and he saw it was wet from the waterfall
Did I forget to mention it was a little bit wet from the waterfall.
And pretty soon his NASCAR t-shirt was soaked all the way through
So he thought he go back home he know that was the right thing to do
Ya he go back home where it be safe and warm and have another brew

So he started back up the clothesline.  The one with the boy scout bowline
But when he grabbed it the clothesline came down
And it be right about then that his Maglight went brown: he say;
This is really a bring-down- I hadn’t planned on a pull-down: no
He hadn’t planned on a no-light midnight pull-down

Well he started free climbing the pit like that man on TV
He got up about forty feet to where the pit hangs free
There might have been another hand hold but he could not see
He heard the rushing of wind in his ear
He heard the crunching of bone when he lit on his rear

He sat in his puddle and cried O mercy me
He hadn’t told me where he expected to be
He reached into his pocket for the cellular phone
But in a thousand pieces the phone was blown-
         No gear, no light, no service…

When we found him his face was serene
He’d been down there since June seventeen
We brought him up in a sack
I don’t think he’ll be back.

By Marian McConnell

Once the caves were filled with bats
Pips, and grays and browns
At dusk they’d swirl up in the sky
Like smoke from underground
A fungus is running wild
In bats from North to South
We must find a way to help
Before it wipes them out

Here’s to all the white nosed bats who died before their time
Little ghosts with leather wings
Why, why, white nose, why? Why, why, white nose, why?

Like canaries in a mine
Or the honeybees’ demise
We must find a way to help
Before it wipes them out


We can help the bats survive
Clean our gear, respect closed caves
Learn, and educate


Mundus Subterraneus (world beneath the earth)
by Amanda Ray

I know a place deep beneath the surface
flowing streams leading to your wildest childhood dreams
crystal walls, frosted covered dripstone
galleries filled with dreams of fragile fantasies

more than a cavity in the earth
a pathway, a new birth into the unknown

I walked till the sun started to leave
next thing I know, the dark came and swallowed me
then the fear set into my feet

now on my hands and knees feeling my way around
echoes of the cave got really loud
then a laser of light found it’s way thru

more than a cavity in the earth
a pathway, a new birth into the unknown

There was a hidden castle of micro-gems and pearls
and markings of a man dwarfed by proud pillars of stone

more than a cavity in the earth
a pathway, a new birth into the unknown

The Ballad of Devin Shane
by Bobbie Nagy

Of Blood and Sweat and Devin's fame
And barely conquered fears,
I sing my song and tell the tale
Of how he found his Tears.

The Fieldhouse poker game was done.
The woodstove cooled and creaked.
Our snores were muffled from the cold,
When out the night he shrieked.

A light snapped on in every room,
As cavers came awake.
But one alone sat crying
As though his heart would break.

We gathered gently 'round him.
His tears soon ceased to stream.
But then he softly shivered
 and said, "I've had a dream."

I saw a child dragged, stumbling,
Down past a sleeping farm.
An Indian boy with painted face
Held tight her skinny arm.

He carried in his other hand
A small, dark age-worn chest.
And 'round his neck he wore a chain
That jangled on his breast.

The Inidan sped his treasures
Beside a mountain stream.
The darkness hid their path from view
Until I heard him scream.

And then I saw shadowed space
In which they both now fell.
I can't forget that young girl's cry
Nor stop that Indian's yell.

The speaker now fell silent.
Young Devin Shane was he.
We told him it was just a dream.
yet his eyes looked strange to me.

We told to go back to sleep,
To drive it fromhis head,
But Dev went right on sitting there.
Who knows where his thoughts led?

I'll not forget the feeling
That gripped me when I rose
And turned to see an empty bunk—
No bag, no boots, no clothes.

I rummaged for his caving box,
His pack for camp and trail.
And then I knew that Dev had gone
To seek his Holy Grail.
I told the others what I thought—
That Dev had run amok.
But none knew Devin as I did
Nor saw the extent his pluck.

He'll soon forget the dream, they said.
He's only just thirteen.
But something in the way he'd looked
Belied his youth so green.

Now word soon proved that I was right,
For word soon reached our ears
That Devin Shane ws out to show
That dreams could span the years.

He camped on mountains all alone
And searched the river gaps.
He poured through county record books
and scanned the topo maps.

he hiked the trails and walked the streams
From Laurel to Broad Run.
He polked in every run-down farm
And questioned everyone.

And then one day he found a cave
Bside the brook called Trout.
He burst into the Fieldhouse then
And told us with a shout.

But cavers are a cynical lot,
Not easy to impress.
And as they wandered through his cve,
Respect for Dev grew less.

It's just a rabbit hole, they said,
Three hundred feet of mud.
But one explorer skinned his knee,
And so they named it Blood.

But Devin Shane was not downcast,
Though his cave was called a dud.
He sensed perhaps the treasure near
Or sensed some other blood.

And so the search was on again.
he'd find that ghostly pit.
Through back door or down swallow hole,
He'd find his way to it.

He pulled out rocks and dug the clay
In dust and wind and wet,
Until he found another clue—
The cave that he called Sweat.

I don't know what he found in it
Of coin or brooch or bone.
But it was proof.  It had to be
Of legends in the stone.

No question in his mind remained.
His search had narrowed dosn.
The Indian's trail had ened on
The mountain east of town.

Now townsmen by their firesides
On Dahmer's Hill or Hall's
Through many a wint'ry eve could see
His light and hear his calls.

They thought him crazed, They name him "Nuts"—
The boy who searched for ghosts.
They scarce believed that one so young
Could accomplish ought but boasts.

But Devin Shane ignored their looks,
Ignored them when they talked.
His vision led.  He followed still.
His lonely way he walked.

And in the end our Dev was right.
The dream he'd had was true.
He led us to a mossy place
Of damp and dark and dew.

Where once a stream, it could be seen,
Had splashed into the void.
But now the place wsa mist and shade,
Of light and life devoid.

We carried ropes through Evick Gap
To that mountain east of town
And knew before we dropped them in,
We'd length on length let down.

Now one by one we glided in
With silent, wond'ring awe.
And far below we gathered 'round
Spellbound by what we saw.

A piteous pile of scattered bones
Lay hard against a wall.
And large and small the remnants were,
Some broken by their fall.

And intertwined among the bones,
A tarnished silver chain.
That lovely loop, bright shining once,
Had proved and Indian's bane.

We never found the wooden chest.
Who knows where it may be?
But this I know and never doubt—
That Dev's dreams are the key.

We dently carried up the bones
And gently laid them down
In proper graves with proper stones
On that mountain east of town.

A hero now is Devin Shane.
His lonely quest he'd won.
But though the deepst yet at 513,
Dev's pit is seldom done.

There is an air of pain and grief
That echoes through the years,
And settles on the gloomy face
Of the cave that he named "Tears."

Packhorse Thighs
To the Tune of Lyin’ Eyes by the Eagles (Henley and Frey)
©2003 H.A. Hurtt

Austin girls just seem to find out early
How to open cave gates with a smile.
A project caver, she won’t have to worry;
She’ll get into Lechuguilla, Texas style.
But a base camp sleeping bag can sure get lonely
While your boyfriend’s out collecting cricket eggs.
And it breaks here heart to know her love is only
Interested in her firm, well-muscled legs.

You can’t hide your packhorse thighs,
And that Porterville tank top cannot disguise
Biceps as big as any guy’s.
Ain’t no way to hide your packhorse thighs.

She tells him she must go out for the evening
To help a friend whose station counts are down,
But he knows where she’s going as she’s leaving.
They both know Dave  Bunnell is back in town.
D.B. tells her how sublime her face is.
Says, “Let’s give this misty borehole shot a whirl.”
But he fills her pack with armored camera cases,
An’ while she holds his flash, he shoots another girl.

He can tell you exercise,
And that Porterville tank top’s a thin disguise.
Guess by now you realize
You’re fated to hum gear for focused guys.

She leaves the cave in tears and starts her Ranger.
Drivin’ through the night; returns to her old manb.
Walks in to find him bedded with a stranger,
And throws her out the door with one strong hand.
He wakes and tells her no one can replace her.
She grabs him by his throat and sweetly grins.
She says, “I want some notice for my work, dear,
Or this neck of yours gets wrapped around your shins.”

You can’t hide your packhorse thighs,
And that Porterville tank top cannot disguise
Biceps as big as any guy’s.
Ain’t no way to hide your packhorse thighs.

Well her pretty face is finally on a cover,
Sharing space with an albino fairy shrimp.
This isn’t how she thought she’d find a lover,
But she’s got style no bug can ever crimp.
Her plan for glory took a few bypasses,
But she’s on track now and going back to school.
She fed that skinny geek amino acids
And got herself a project cavin’ mule.

He can’t hide your packhorse thighs,
And that Porterville tank top cannot disguise
Biceps as big as any guy’s.
An’ ain’t no way to hide them packhorse thighs.

Cave Girls
© 2010 Bill Cooke

There’s a place, Cave girls go
There’s a place, down below
Hidden from, Light of Day
Cave girls they, Know the way

Finer than silver, precious as pearls
Breaking hearts, all around the world
Cave girls whisper, come with me
To a place, below the sea

Cave girls, cave girls, they’re so cool
Cave girls, cave girls, cave girls rule
Cave girls know their inner child
Cave girls they are, going wild

Concentrate so they say
Makes the rocks go away
Ancient seas rise and fall
Cave girls they’ve, seen it all

They are so, mysterious
And if you are, curious
What they know, didn’t learn from school
In the dark, Cave girls rule

Winkelmeyer Cave                                                 
To the tune of “On Top of Old Smokey”
Lyrics by: Lannis Hancock    April ‘06                                              

It was April’s Fool’s Day
and on Market Street
Joe Light and Earl Hancock
went down thirty feet

They went down a manhole
to the darkness below
and into the tunnels
of history they go

Into Winkelmeyer
a brewery of old
they wanted to survey
and find Spanish gold

They took many photos,
at red water did stop,
coming back to the ladder
they were called by a cop

“Come up and bring I.D.,”
They heard Lannis shout
A cop then leaned over
and said, “Come on out!”

They came up the cable
to be met by the fuzz
They smelled like the sewer,
all covered with scuzz

We found nothing down there
but muck and syringes
It looked like the junkies
had all gone on binges

Who gave you a permit?
The six cops did ask
Earl looked like “Osama”,
we were taken to task

They looked at maps and
We had quite a session,
as Earl and Joe gave them
a history lesson             
It was April Fool’s Day
and on Market Street
Joe Light and Earl Hancock
went down thirty feet

A Flowstone Away
by Amanda Ray

Can you feel it flowing
creating what we feel the most
I can see it, deposits of my dreams are
streaming down the walls of my reality

We are a flowstone away

No use to try and stop it
watch it form with every drop
and as strong as it may seem
one touch will prove it’s fragility

We are a flowstone away

If I could see thru the eyes of the unborn
layers of possibilities and
sheets of joy adorned my skin

We are a flowstone away

From our darkest moon
to our brightest star
we are a flowstone away

Fossilized waves reminds me of a new day