SAN ANTONIO – A 19-hour trip deep into the caves at Natural Bridge Caverns in July led to some major new discoveries, including underground lakes and massive rooms.
Brad Wuest and Travis Wuest, who own and operate Natural Bridge Caverns, were joined by Bill Steele on their journey into the uncharted portions of the cave.
Travertine Passage is one of the new areas the team discovered during their July trip.
"I was descending deeper than anticipated into large, never before seen passage. I could hear running water below me and hoped my 100 feet of rope was long enough to reach the bottom. Then, while still on rope, my headlight illuminated a passage filled with spectacular travertine pools of pristine flowing water that extend the entire length and width of the passage," Brad Wuest said.
Midnight Dome is another large chamber the team discovered on the trip. It's 65,000 cubic feet in volume, which would fit a regulation-sized tennis court with seating for spectators, according to a news release.
Of all the new discoveries, the largest is Frozen Falls Chamber, which measures 135 feet long, 40 feet wide and 30 feet high with a volume of 162,000 cubic feet.
The team discovered several abandoned bat roosts that carbon dating of guano samples determined to be approximately 6,300 and 7,500 years old, according to a news release.
“Since May 8, we have now discovered over 1,600 feet of new passages, including spectacular chambers and lakes,” said Brad Wuest. "Just thinking that these incredible rooms and passages have been here under our ranch, never before seen and just waiting for us to find is amazing. The best part for us is that the cavern system shows no end in sight.”
It took the team six hours of "hard and exhaustive" caving to reach the new parts of the cave and start the exploration. Some members had to carry packs that weighed 30 up to 50 pounds, a news release revealed.