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Author Topic: Caves in Montana  (Read 7608 times)

Montanabarb

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Caves in Montana
« on: July 15, 2011, 07:33:04 AM »
Here it is more than ten days since our big cave adventure, and I'm just now getting around to writing about it.  (My pencils needed sharpening. ;)

We chose July 4th to go exploring. The weather was beautiful; about 75 degrees, clear and cool. The area we would be searching was located on private land--a ranch owned by the Russell Stover/Pangburn candy corporation, so we took precautions to be unobtrusive. We took back packs with a floodlight, water, mosquito repellant and candy bars, along with an altimeter and compass. We also had flourescent green nylon twine to mark our path if we found the cave. 

After parking our small pickup about four miles out of town, in a spot where it wouldn't be seen (at about 5000 feet altitude) we started hiking up the mountain that had been pointed out to me by my youngest son.  Twenty years ago, when he was in high school, he told me, he was invited along with some of his beer buddies to explore a cave. He acted like it was a deep secret, and the boys had taken elaborate steps to avoid being seen. He was the source of virtually all my information about the cave. From his description, I pictured a smallish primitive cave unknown to all but locals.

We hiked up the mountainside for about an hour, heading for a granite outcropping that Barry had indicated as being the location of the cave opening.  The beautiful Smith River Valley (named by Lewis and Clark) opened up behind us as we ascended.  We followed game trails that switched back and forth up the mountain, and saw plenty of fresh elk sign.  In one hollow was the fairly fresh carcass of an elk calf. We couldn't easily find indication of what had killed it, but rumors of wolves in the area have circulated  As we neared the top of the mountain, at about 7500 feet altitude, we split up to search. Jim went higher and began circling to the right; I was about 75 feet below him, also circling through loose shale and dead fall to the right.  I was thankful for my tall walking stick for balance.  We didn't have exact directions to the location of the opening; just Barry's twenty year old beer-fueled memories.   We agreed to try to stay within shouting distance of each other. I lost sight of Jim right away.  After searching for about twenty minutes, I began to run across very old beer bottles and rusted sardine cans, so I guessed I was nearing the party spot. I circled around a huge granite boulder, and right in my face appeared an alcove in the rocks, about waist high. It contained a concrete abutment, with a 2 1/2 foot square opening surrounded by steel, and blocked by a heavy rusted metal plate about a half inch thick.  Another opening to the left was closed off by steel bars a couple inches thick. We could see through holes in the steel plate and the bars into a low ceilinged but dry cave.  The biggest surprise was a bronze plaque mounted in the concrete that read:  "Ram's Horn Cave.  Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. Castle Mountain Ranch, 1968."  We were stunned to find out that this was not an undisturbed cave in a remote pasture, but a bona fide cavern that had been explored and recorded. At some point, the ranch management had sealed it, although we could see that with proper equipment the steel apparatus could be removed.

We took many pictures, both of the view and the cave, but decided that at least for that day, we wouldn't get any more information. 

Research on Ram's Horn Cave, next.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 08:44:58 AM by Montanabarb »

errrv

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Re: Caves in Montana
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2011, 07:46:32 AM »
Wow! Great job! Just hauling yourself up 2500 ft is very impressive! Too bad the thing is locked up tight! The good part about that... If you breach the entry & get inside, you could put all your stuff in there & "re-seal" it to look undisturbed. We did that when occupying safe houses overseas. Bust or pick the lock but make it look locked still... Just have a way to get in/out without leaving evidence.
Can't wait to see more...
Erv

Montanabarb

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Re: Caves in Montana
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2011, 08:15:00 AM »
On the way home we discussed the mystery.  The date on the plaque (we decided it said 1968) was nearly obscured by corrosion, but any date prior to the 1990s simply didn't fit Barry's descriptions.  We couldn't figure out when the concrete barrier could have been poured, and still allowed people to access the cave in the '90s.  We even considered the idea that there was another opening somewhere that the boys had used.

As soon as we got home, I called Barry and told him what we'd found.  He started by saying the steel plate must have been added after his high school years, and as he talked I could see why.  He said that he and his friends were able to wriggle through the square opening in the concrete, and ventured deep into the cave, carrying their flashlights, cigarettes and an 18 pack of beer.  I asked if they had taken any precautions for an accident, like a rope, chalk or spray paint to mark their path. He said that safety or accidents didn't occur to them. Beered up and full of testosterone, they just WENT.  Some of the boys said that their fathers and even grandfathers had known about the cave for decades, and that they had visited it frequently. He said that he and his friends had partied there at least half a dozen times.  I asked him how far he thought they had ventured into the cave, and he could only say "A long way. Maybe half a mile.  There are huge rooms, and we never found any chasms, although there were quite a few places where we had to choose one tunnel over another."  The description he was giving me was chilling. Pitch dark, no light but flashlights, no map, unbelievable.  I'm glad I didn't know. All those boys are productive citizens and fathers now. Someone was looking after them.

Then he told me, "There was a rumor that somebody had mapped the cave, maybe the Forest Service" I told him that the bronze plaque stated that it was owned by "Castle Mountain Ranch." He said, "If it's been mapped, I'll bet you can find something on the Internet about it." I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of that!

I went on Google, typed in "Ram's Horn Cave," and there it was! In the list of Montana's Deep Caves by the National Spelunkers Society. I found that there are fifteen "Deep Caves" in  Montana. The site gave specifications.  Most interesting is that the cave is 4750 feet (nearly a mile) long and drops 450 feet.  It is usually quite dry. The website does not give the location of any of the caves, beyond the county they are in.

On the downside, there is no water in the cave, and no ventilation.  Barry told me that one of his friends, showing off, exhaled a big cloud of cigarette smoke and said, "Look at this." The smoke hung absolutely motionless in the air. 

So, I've concluded that it would be less than ideal for shelter during an Elenin or Nibiru event.  1) It's nearly at the top of a 7500 foot mountain, accessible only by horses or mules (a four-wheel ATV might make it.) 2) It has no ventilation past the first ten feet or so.  3) There's no water; all supplies and equipment would have to be hauled up that mountain.   4) It's on private land, although that probably would not be an issue at that point.

In some ways the inaccessibility would be an advantage, but anyone sheltering there might become like the Jews at Masada--trapped and starving.  Although Barry did tell me, "One time, we came out of the cave and a herd of about 20 elk were standing there staring at us."  And there is plenty of firewood, but the fires would have to be outdoors (ventilation.) Smoke on top of a mountain?  Not good for somebody trying to hide.

The only other progress in this story is, my husband went to Home Depot and bought an 18 amp cordless Saws-All.  I wonder what he has in mind.   
« Last Edit: July 15, 2011, 09:33:03 AM by Montanabarb »

Montanabarb

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Re: Caves in Montana
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2011, 09:21:25 AM »
I just had another thought (they come to me occasionally.) There had to have been a way to haul the concrete, mixer, water and steel up the mountain to the cave mouth.  The ranch headquarters are located exactly opposite the cave, on the north side of the mountain.  We stayed away from that side, but I'll bet there is some kind of access to the cave from the north. The imminent problem would be hauling equipment and supplies via 4-wheeler up the south face of the mountain. Three or four trips up and down would create a road visible from 5,000 feet in that relatively pristine environment. I guess one would have to wait until TSHF and nobody cares. That would probably be too late. Horses would fit right in without leaving a trail.

errrv

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Re: Caves in Montana
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2011, 09:37:29 AM »
Yes, you could pack 100 lbs of cement on a trail horse or even more... 5 gal water cans; mix it on site.

 

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