DEMPSTER LAKE DIVE AND SURVEY, WEBSTER CAVE
Nestled in the heart of Breckinridge County Kentucky, a 9.61 mile semi dry kayak accessible river cave system known as Webster Cave, serves as one of the most significant watercourse drainage systems in Sinking Creek Valley. This Valley is home to numerous caves in the immediate area including 12 significant multi mile cave systems that have shown some evidence of a connection by a multi-level matrix system of stream and river passages.
The only other option was to establish an exploratory trip with a purpose to dive the resurgence at the back of Dempster Lake which is in one of the most remote parts of the cave situated 3 miles back from the entrance. The question remained for the WCCSG as to where they could find such a team with the technical, mental, and the physical ability that will be necessary to accomplish this task...until last Saturday.
click HERE to learn more about the dive in Webster Cave.
Published in the NSS CDS Febuary 2015 issue
Webster cave is the largest and more hydro logically mysterious and aggressive than any of other the other cave systems in the Sinking Creek Valley region. Webster Cave is home to a 3 mile trunk passage up to 30 ft. in height with subterranean lakes and rivers that make traversing this cave by kayak, the best choice. The system has been known to release an impressive amount of water out of the spring entrance in periods of heavy rain fall which is believed to be the main relief conduit for a 30 mile radius.
The treacherous and grueling environment demands visitors to be mindful of their surroundings which can include boot sucking mud, the extended wall to wall 54 degree water passages, and of course the drainage potential in rainy conditions commands attention. A few bad choices and this cave will spit you out in due to the water pressure levels or drag you down by your feet while going down the hypothermia trail. The cave also holds some well kept secrets in the lower bowels of Webster Cave’s cold damp darkness.
One of the cave's best kept secrets is a lower level watercourse known as the Dempster Lake sump resurgence. This Resurgence relieves a significant amount of water and disappears back underground with little evidence as to where it goes or where it is coming from. For the past 20 years, the Webster Cave Complex Survey Group (WCCSG) has been surveying this well protected karst feature and efforts have been halted due to the technical and extensive water restrictions that they have encountered, especially in one of the most significant quadrants of the cave, the Dempster Lake passage. Only a dye trace and certified cave divers can even attempt to answer the questions as to what is beyond the dempster lake sumps. Dye traces have been performed and there is some limited evidence that the water might feed into the historic and closed cave called Penitentiary cave.