Actun Chapat has the passage from Entrance 1 to Entrance 2 or the sink hole as many of you already know about...
There is the 3rd and 4th passage that most people have never been to. These passages begin after swimming through a lake where often we can see albino catfish and albino crabs. Fresh water shrimp also inhabit the lakes. (Someone visited my Blog and left an interesting paper regarding these creatures) One passage heads up, and the other to an incredible rim stone dam about 15 feet high. This is the route we decided to take on our latest journey.
I have been past the lake several times and been down both passages. However I have never been with experienced cavers, so hesitated to go too far, or each time when I went I would run into larger lakes. These lakes would recede or rise depending on the rainy season. At the worst times somewhere it is flooding causing the passage to flood making it impossible to go farther.
In May of 2008 a group of cavers known as XMET, Dave Larson, Brian Pease, and on this occasion Marcus Cucul, and I climbed over the rim stone dam and made our way down a tunnel. The stone was worn as if there had been a good flow with velocity, as there were few formations. The passage was more of a tube perhaps 20 feet high and 50 feet wide. Walking through this we began to start going down hill and traversing smaller rim stone dams. Bright red in color, and the ground sandy were further indications that the flow when present was swift. The passage remained huge with high ceilings and wide rooms.
We then came to smaller pools and larger caverns, flooded in the past but today were mostly dry. I kept seeing more and more charcoal from fires, and then more and more human bones. Strewn throughout a passage we found several human bones. The most exciting find was the skull and jaw bone found several feet apart, but from the same person. NICH, after telling them about the find asked if we could return and take the bones out for analysis. Once the bones were studied by Gabe at NICH, it was determined that the bones came from 2 individuals. The skull was from a male, aged from the late teens to early 20's.
The skull is now in the bone lab, and I somehow think it should be back in the cave where we found it. Along with this skull we found an alter area. A single “leaf” blade was found laying there. It was perfect. As I picked it up I checked to see how sharp it was, I ran it across my finger. It cut into my finger indicating it was a s sharp as the day it was laid there.
From this point in the cave we came to a much larger lake. As it was getting very late in the day we decided it was time to head back. Brian did a quick swim across and on the other side said it just kept going…
What else are we going to find??? Another expedition needs to be done, and hopefully with the perfect conditions we incountered in May of 2008.
***XMET always brings Oxygen meters and is monitoring it as we go through. There are times when it is to low to go through this passage. It would extremely risky to do this without the correct equipment. We were extremely fortunate that this one day the lakes were dry, the oxygen was good. This was the first time in 9 years it has been like this.***