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Caves and spiders

Saturday, April 2nd - ATM cave. Relief, the heat has broken. Instead of 110, it's a refreshing 95 today with some broken clouds. It was a long night with two troops of howler monkeys discussing the politics of the monkey world all night long. Luckily for us, we had one group in the tree right above our cabanas. If you've never heard a howler, think the t-rex portion of jurassic park. In which they used recordings of the howlers for the dino sounds! Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of sleep to be had. The alarm went off at 6 for an early breakfast followed by a 15 minute trip to the start of the ATM cave trail. We organized our helmets and started the 45 minute hike to the entrance of the cave. We had three river crossings and hiked along a nice path the whole way. When we got to the little picnic area at the cave mouth, we shed all gear except for helmets and lights. The way into the cave surprised all of us. You stood at the top of a little 5 foot waterfall and dive into a deep pool of water that was pouring from the cave. It was cool water, glowing a brilliant blue green. We swam about 100 feet and climbed out of the water. Over the next hour, we wound along the cave, squeezing through tight spots into large chambers filled with all kinds of interesting formations. The cave we were in went 4 to 5 miles.back and after we had been hiking for some time, our guide, Lenny, said tbis is all the further back we go, only caver go beyond. We all thought that meant that it was the turn around point,.but instead he said, "now we climb." So off we wnt, up a pretty precarious slope into a chamber that was beyond comprehension. Vast not only in length but in height it was a massive chamber. We wore only socks ro protect.the site, which was scattered with Mayan pottery used in sacrifices. As we got further back, we saw several calcium covered human skeletons, also sacraficed. As we got near the rear chamber, we climbed a ladder, squeezed through a tight space and saw the final chamber with a perfectly preserved skeleton. Quite amazing. Since our camp was the closest, we were the first group and had the cave to ourselves. On the way back out, we started to see the flickers of light from other groups heading into the main cavern. We worked our way back out taking several detours through smaller side passages with names like the toilet bowl. After we came out, we swam for a while in a beautiful pool at the cave entrance. After a pack lunch and a short drive, we were back at base. Even thought tbe temperature was cooler, it was still in the 90s and very thick. It was an afternoon of naps and an evening of tarantula and scorpion hunting.

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