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Sugau Cave

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In the southwestern tongue of the Siposkő block, in the Giurgeului mountain, 1568 metres above sea level lies the well-known Șugău cave. The Heveder and the Borzoka creeks, which flow into the Mureș, take in the Șugău creek flowing out from the cave. The creek is fed by the karst water gathered in the mountain. We can come close to the cave from the village Voșlăbeni, which lies on the connector road of Gheorgheni and Miercurea Ciuc.

Leaving Heveder village, which belongs to Voșlăbeni, we follow the Heveder creek on a 6 km long forest path, called Fekete-Rez. Then we turn to the Borzoka creek and after a 300 m walk we will see the first inflow creek, the Șugău.

Formation and the age of the cave

65 million years ago, in the Paleocene Period, as a result of folding movements was formed the Șugău cave in the Siposkő block. The spatial position of the cave system is characterised by tectonic preformation. The multi-level passage of the cave was formed along the lithoclasses and faults of the dolomite, granular limestone, in mezometamorphic crystalline shale sequence of the Rebra series. The granular limestone, along which the passage was formed, requires an exact, specialistic identification, as at the mouth of the creek there is no more limestone, its place was taken by crystalline shales up to the summit.

On the left of the first, dry mouth of the cave there is only one spring, which after 5-6 m disappears; this fact means, that the creek coming out from the cave is gathered from underground rills. The surface is so called "covered" karst, which is covered with 70-80 years old spruces, grass and moss. The cave has four levels, the lower level formes the activ, namely aqueous section with one mouth, and the three upper levels form the next sections with two mouthes.

Discovery and naming of the cave

About the date when the aqueous mouth of the Șugău cave was discovered, there are no exact figures, but it is sure, that the people from there have known about it, in phrase of popular language about the "Lik"("Hole"). This cave, like any other in the country, was named by the people. In the aqueous and upper passages the airflow is fast, depending on temperature and atmospheric pressure fluctuation, so in the passage the draught is continuous. In summer the airflow comes from the aqueous passage, in winter from the dry passage nr.1, and in such manner, that it forms a thick hoar layer on the plants. The draught and the roar of the water make a whispering noise, which is very strong at the aqueous passage, when a larger quantity of water flows out from the mouth. Probably the cave got its name from this whispering noise.

The local people embellished a little bit the stories with non-existent happenings and heroes. Tarisznyás Márton, museologist and history teacher, has collected several popular legends about the region, including the legend of the Șugău cave. According to one of these legends, the Șugău cave is connected with an other one at the Trei Fântâni. According to the popular belief, "gold is dripping down" in the cave, which is catched with buckets. In 7 years, three buckets are filled with gold, which is very hard to carry off and only a few people can do it. At the end of the last century two men and a woman came for it. They showed up at a stated time, namely every seven years, on Friday night before Pentecost, or on St John's night(24th of june). For fraud, they shoed the horses backwards. Many people lied in wait in that time to identify them, but their undertaking had failed, because they didn't know when these 7 years lapse.

Exploration, mapping and the length of the cave

We can form a complete picture of a cave, if we know its geological structure,its accurate map and real length. In order to owe these we have to explore the cave. In the 30ies people, mostly treasure hunters, began to study the cave without any well-founded scientific reasons. In this period Romfeld Ákos Senior and Kémenes József from Gheorgheni covered the cave for enthusiasm, where they found cave-bear(Ursus Speleaus) bones. Today the bones belong to the patrimony of the museum of Cluj Napoca. These explorations refer to the aqueous passage.

The first, written communiqué was published by Csibi Andor in 1937, in his work " Gyilkostó klimatikus gyógyhely monográfiája és kalauza". He wrote: " among the msot important tourist attractions in our region we have to mention the Șugău cave in Valea Strâmbă..." After 1937 the commonage of Valea Strâmbă proposed to explore the cave, but in the meantime broke out the Second World War and the exploration was put off.

The deliberate exploration was proposed in 1961 by Buslig Lajos, architect, and by Romfeld Ákos jr. in the aqueous passage, where they found other cave-bear bones. The exploration of the upper dry passages has taken place years after. In further explorations took part Garai Ödön, natural history teacher, as well.

With constant self-education- study of scientific reviews, specialist books, participation in Caver's Camp with Hungarian and Czechoslovakian cavers, it forms an amateur speologist team, called "Bányai János". Main members were Gerőffy Ferenc, Benedek Oszkár and others, who made an effort to explore the cave. Until the official opening of the cave, the exploration was sponsored by the Museum of Gheorgheni, in 1966 they managed to build a hospice for the further exploration and visiting. The map of the currently built up part of the cave, namely the first dry passage and the "Túlfolyó-ág", was made in 1966, which was completed with further surveyings in 1967. "The Ursus Speleaus" speologist group do researches, as well, and under the guidance of the soil engineer, Dénes István, they make the map of the whole passages. The length of the mapped passages is 1021 metres, but this length is not constant, as chimneys and halls were discovered there at the end of the 70ies, in addition in the 80ies-90ies it was discovered a 45 metres long chimney under the "S" aven.

The structure of the cave

Structurally the cave is divided into 4 large galleries: dry passage nr.1, nr,2, which were formerly seepages, the "Túlfolyó-brach", and aqueous passage, active even nowadays. The dry passage nr.1 is supplied with iron door, it can be visited, but it needs renovation. The first hall is the "Öltöző terem"( "Dressing room"), it is a recess similar to a domed cellar. Here shifted their clothes the speologists in the period before the hospice was built. The next hall is the "Tanácskozók terme"( "Conference Room"), which in 1965 carrying out alluvial deposits made way for itself in the direction of the larger halls. In this hall can be seen dripstones, already. On the ceiling of the hall can be seen the snow-white, mild dripstone deposit, called lublinite (mountain milk, rock milk).

The halls, chimneys, formations of the cave were named by the first speologist, depending on their form and size, or something/someone connected with the cave. In the "Felfedezők csarnoka" (The Hall of the Explorer) we see several stalactite forms- stalactite curtain, stalactostalagmites- which are broken in some places. It is very interesting the "Medusa" stalactite, which has three pieces. A piece of broken stalactite tile forms the "Turtle" and "Dolphine" figures. The latter had grown together with the ceiling.

Some metres further from there can be found caldron like forms, which indicate a corrosion: "The Giant Owl Eye" and "The Mother-in-Law's Mouth". On the right inwards can be seen "The Fairyland Passage"; for its walls is characteristic the stalactite. The "Bastion" is the largest stalagmite of the cave; next to it is the "Mouth of the Wolf". In the stalagmite crustation can be found the "Altar" and the "Pagodák".

The stalagmites of the Șugău cave are postgenomic, that is to say they developed after the formation of the cave recess. Its base material is calcite and aragonite.

The first larger hall is the "Whirlpool Hall".

From this hall branch off the other passages of the cave: "Túlfolyóág", dry passage nr.2, which starts from the "Connecting Passage", and the active passage through the "S" aven downwards. The lower aven of the hall ceiling is traversable, and leads into the "Miklós Hall"(named after the Slovakian speologist Erdős Miklós). This hall is nearly vertical, shaft-like recess, and its lower part is a narrow aven. In the "Triumphal Arch" and the "Bat Boneyard" passages we find many bat skeleton remains, which points to the fact, that the bats lived in large numbers here.

Larger halls formed at the crossing of the tectonical faultages. For example the "Ödön Hall"(named after Garay Ödön). The "Petrified Waterfall" is the masterwork of seeping water. The rock mass brofen off from the ceiling is called the "Stalactite Cemetery". In its lower part we can see the stalictite remains. The last hall of the dry passage nr.1 is the "Concert Hall". On its wall, near the "Sleeping Compartment", we see the helictite formations.

The largest hall of the cave is the "Large Hall". A sharp descent leads in the direction of its base, from there starts a low passage towards the lower levels. In the lower part of its wall calcite crystallines can be found. Downwards from this hall we find the "Crystalline chimney", which walls are covered with crystallines.

From the "Túlfolyó-ág" and the "Maces", from the former creek lake, starts the "Lover's Fountain". In this hall interesting stalactite forms are to be found, which unfortunatelly are subdued. The former "Botond's Mace" we known from photos.

We can get beyond the first 34 metres of the passage by creeping, the first part is a real stalactite forest, which is formed from a stalactite floor, stalactites, stalagmites and massive stalactostalagmites. The chimney leads to the "Pagoda Hall".

In the "Hall of Miracles" we find a giant talagtite group the "Chandelier", the only formation which kept its natrural form. In the "Quarrying" and the "Ruin" halls the stalactite formations were eroded by the laws of nature. The last hall of the passage id the "Hall of the Fox". We can get beyond the passage nr.2 to by creeping again, it i very narrow. Inside the passage there are basins filled with water, making the acces more difficult. On its ceiling small avens are to be found.

The most mysterious and the most studied passage of the cave is the "Vizes-ág"("Aqueous Section"). This activ passage is the most difficult passable section of the cave. The average water output of the creek, which flow over the cave, is 30 l/sec. The water temperature, in comparison with other cave creeks, is very low 5-7 centigrade degrees. Leaving the mouth, we can follow the creek along 40 m inwards. On the right there are very dangerous and slippy avens. This passage is a large tectonical faultage, which walls moved away from eachother, forming a joint. It is worth mentioning the "Lámpatemető"("Lamp Cemetery"), which is a vertical shaft, and it is the most important part of the joint. An interesting formation of the lublinite precipitate is the "Stalactite Sources".

The excavated soil and debris during the exploration aggraded the creek, so only in one passage can be followed its flow. Our pass on is obstructed by a water trap. The other by-pass passage is also blocked by water. On the left, before the water trap a stalactite flow hangs on the wall.

Temperature, moisture content and fauna of the cave

The air inside the cave contains much more CO2 than outside. Due to the low temperature inside, the humidity level of the Șugău cave is 95%. The cave water contains a large amount of calcium carbonate. Despite the hostile conditions the cave has a small fauna, which consists of the Froglobion-family: springtails (Collembola), insects (Insecta).

The cave's only inhabitant is a species of bat (Myottis Natererri), which shoes up especially in winter time, single or in a group, settle down on the dry walls or on the ceiling of the cave. 5 species of bat live in the cave: Greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis Myotis), Lesser mouse-eared bat (Myotis Blythi), Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus Auritus), Long fingered bat (Miniorterus schreibersi).

The Șugău cave and its surroundings are reserves. In the reserve it can also be found the "Boldogasszony Papucs" from the Orchid family, a rare and protected plant.