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Peppersauce Cave

Our trip to Peppersauce Cave started out like a lot of our other adventures.  The local weather was crazy.  We had just experienced the largest rain storm of the monsoon season, and the streets were flooded and freeways closed.  Peppersauce Cave, however, is near Oracle and about two hours South East of Phoenix.  They seemed to have clear skies and sunshine.  If we left late that afternoon, we would get there just in time to grab some dinner and get to the cave slightly after dark.  We figured it didn’t much matter if it was light outside, since it would be pitch black inside.

Although Peppersauce Cave is open to the public, there is not an official parking lot–just a wide spot in the road that can fit about three vehicles.  We had no trouble finding the cave, as we were with Travis from 2 Brothers’ Adventures who has been to Peppersauce many times.  We crossed the road and started up the wash where we found the official sign.  It was pretty much destroyed from graffiti but shows a map of about half of the actual cave.

The main entrance to Peppersauce Cave was about 20 yards up the wash past the sign.  A quick scramble up the side of the hill and over some tree roots will put us at the mouth of the cave… which it not very big.  We had to belly crawl to to a small room and squeeze through another spot at the back of this area, which put us into a larger room.  After we made it in, we decided our first goal was to reach the lake at the far end.  The second goal was to find the “Rabbit Hole.”

We made our way through this first area and found the landmark known as the “Three Fissures.”  We scooted our way down this hallway of rock until it opened into yet another room.  At this point, I could see how easily someone could get lost in here with all the

tunnels and crevices.  At some point, we stopped and turned off our lights to experience the total darkness.  Our eyes strained to see any amount of light, but there was none.  The only sound was the occasional drip of water slowly building stalactites as it has done over the past several thousand years.  I tried not to imagine how many tons of earth and rock were above our heads, which is easier if you keep moving.

We walked for a ways towards the back of the cave.  I noticed how warm the cave felt and also how high the humidity was.  I’m guessing that the temperature was in the high 70’s and humidity had to be in the 90% range.  We could faintly see our breath, as it did not evaporate like it normally does.  I was also very disappointed by the amount of graffiti covering the walls.  It is amazing to me that some people don’t think twice about defacing a permanent rock feature.  Most markings were arrows and notes, guidelines to keep any would-be spelunkers from getting lost, but the amount of colors and markings made any directions unreadable.  Very destructive.

Towards the back of the large room was the ladder.  This ladder is very secure and bolted to the the rock and drops you down about 12 feet to a slippery path.  We kept going a bit, and found ourselves at the furthest end of the cave and the lake.  The water seemed a little murky when we found it.  Our lights caused the cave ceiling to reflect onto the water’s surface and appear like a rock crater.  Very cool except for the trash floating in it.

After the lake is where the real adventure began.  Climbing a ladder is always fun with a couple inches of mud on your boots.  The ladder down to the rabbit hole was no exception.  Very stable, just a bit slippery.  There used to be just a rope leading down, so the ladder is a great improvement.  Take your time and watch your step.

peppersauce_cave-rabbit-holeThe Rabbit Hole was tons of fun, as we got to jam our bodies into an 18 inch hole (some go head first).  We almost didn’t get to see what was on the other side due to one of our teammates eating one slice of pizza too many at dinner.  The funny thing was, he had already tossed his backpack through.  We brought Chacho along, the youngest…and scrawniest, and he gladly and easily slipped through.  Now, curious to see what was on the other side, I slid through.  Surprisingly, the rest of the crew was just as curious, and we all made it through after all!

Well, we had been to the lake, and we had also found the Rabbit Hole… now what?  Everything on this side was pretty much uncharted territory for us.  Travis had been through the hole only once and didn’t venture very far, as he had gone through alone at the time.  We had heard that there was a log book somewhere, so we had our goal!

Like the rest of Peppersauce cave, this larger room had many smaller corridors branching out and leading every which way.  We picked one and headed out.  After about 15 minutes of twisting, turning and scrambling we happen upon the log book!

peppersauce_cave-log-book

 The log book was just laying on the ground out in the open.  Kind of a weird spot if you ask me but, there it was, and we signed in.  After a few minutes of exploring the surrounding area, we agreed it was time to head back.  We’d achieved all the things we wanted to do and them some.  Well, except for one…. we needed to get out and back to the truck.

We set out, backtracking the way we’d come in, following the familiar passages and formations…or so we thought.  The further we went the less we recognized.  We went for about 15 minutes and finally came upon a familiar sight….the log book.  We’d unknowingly gone in a complete circle!!!  We were lost…while knowing exactly where we were, if that makes any sense.  Now we had two questions:  1) How do we get out of here? 2) Do we get to sign the log book again?

Agreeing that one entry in the book was sufficient, we made attempt number two with Chacho in the lead.  He claimed he knew where we went wrong.   Apparently his expertise in video game mazes and tunnels finally paid off, as he was able to lead us right back to the Rabbit Hole.  During that second g0-around, we did realize where we went wrong.  A large arrow was spray painted on the rock that read LOOP.  So now we know.

The Rabbit Hole is also known as the Birth Canal (for obvious reasons).  We were all able to make it through without incident.  I guess knowing that you made it through once means you can make it through again, but it took away some of the excitement.  We made our way back up the ladder and back to the large room.  With only one other small detour and backtrack, we made it to the main cave entrance.

 peppersauce_cave-log-book-group

What a great experience for all of us.  Spending quality adventure time with friends and family is what it’s all about.  We’ll be back soon.

What do you need for Peppersauce cave?

  • Lights: At least three sources.  Headlamps are very nice, and I also liked having a flashlight in hand.
  • Fresh batteries and backup batteries
  • Helmet
  • Drinking water
  • Snacks
  • Clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty…really dirty!
  • Small sack for picking up garbage… Actually you could easily fill a large sack with the amount of trash people leave.
  • Scense of Humor…. plan on having a great time!

I’d like to thank Travis from 2BrothersAdventures for an excellent trip!  Looking forward to many more!

 


Comments (4)

  1. Julia

    Awesome post, Justin, but you forgot “sense of humor” on the list of what to bring to the cave!

  2. admin

    @Julia -You are correct and I have updated the list! 🙂

  3. Ima Horse C'Winoname

    I would like to know is a permit is required to visit the peppersauce cave. I appreciate a tip also. Thanks.

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