Today I met up with Jerry Murphy at Cave Excursions East and headed to Hart Springs. The cost is currently $2 for a guide, and $20 for the diver being guided. You can find more information on the guide system and current access policies here.
The descent reminds you a lot of Devil’s Ear, except smaller and higher flow, but a water house style fissure crack all the same. Once at the bottom, the cave levels out just past 20ft deep and cuts towards the bridge in my photo I’ll post below. The tunnel is reasonably large, but not humongous. You can’t stretch your feet just yet, and it’s still ferocious flow that made me miss the comparatively weak flow experienced at Ginnie and JB. For about 400ft, it’s a challenge to find handholds that are solid enough that you won’t break the cave, so be careful. Fortunately having a guide who’s been there often, I could just follow his lead.
I’m starting a new paragraph because after 400ft the cave changes. You get beyond “Big Hart” and the flow tremendously decreases while the cave opens up. From here on out, you’re going to run a 70ft profile and the cave “squirrel tracks” become substantially less noticeable. One interesting aspect of Hart is that there’s several side tunnels that appear almost as big as the main line part of the tunnel. Most caves in the area have one large tunnel and smaller offshoots. Also, if you carefully watch the floor, you’ll notice lots and lots of extremely interesting formations just sitting on the ground in the clay.
Around 1000ft of penetration, you’ll encounter double arrows, which means you’re half way to “Black Lagoon”, which will remain a guided system. From here until you pass under the lagoon, you’ll notice the sides of the cave have lots of shelves and cracks in the ceiling that make you wonder how many small offshoots can one cave have?
About 200ft short of Black Lagoon, I hit my turn pressure, and we let the flow carry us some 1800ft back to the entrance, with a rare fin kick thrown in to steer our bodies. Opon grabbing our deco bottles, we were greeted with that annoying entrance again, but unlike Devil’s Ear, mother nature forgot to install a deco log at 20ft!