PESH Expedition: Part 2

PESH Cavers gather around stone deep in cave

Scientific Findings Fueled by Fruitcake

Collin Street is a proud supporter of outdoor adventurers and wilderness explorers!  Committed to fueling those who pursue their passions, our Bakery readily supplies power-packed fruitcake to intrepid groups of hikers, bikers, climbers, and campers; groups like PESH, an organization dedicated to the exploring, mapping, and studying of the largest underground caving system in the Northern Hemisphere. 

This blog is the second part of our PESH series. If you haven’t yet read our first blog, take a second and check it out here!

When we last heard from Bill Steele back in February of 2019, the PESH Co-Leader, the expedition was about to leave for their trip to the Sistema Huautla. Having returned to the states, Bill Steele sent us the following letter detailing the immense success of their trip.

We had one of the best Sistema Huautla expeditions ever!  Our exploration discoveries were nothing short of amazing. Almost all our expedition members loved Collin Street’s coffee (there were some non-coffee drinkers but who can understand those people?). Plus, all the Bakery’s fruitcakes were either eaten or gifted to the surrounding locals in the spirit of "fruitcake diplomacy.” Meanwhile, the Petites became our team’s most-loved exploration food (way more than Clif Bars, Snickers, or KIND).

Our trip lasted a total of four weeks. Forty-two expedition members, including cavers, support staff, and Mexican scientists, participated in the mapping and studying of the Sistema Huautla. Ample amounts of scientific data were collected and future trips have already begun being planned. Here are the key takeaways from this year's expedition:

  • Over 10km (6.2 miles) of new passages were discovered and mapped - The Sistema Huautla is now known to stretch 89km (55.3 miles) long and contains twenty-nine entrances.
  • A new cave was discovered in the Sistema Huautla drainage basin and included world-class calcite cave formations. This new cave has been explored and mapped to stretch 5km long and 400m deep.
  • The depth of Sistema Huautla is still unchanged at 1560m (5,118 feet) deep. Sistema Huautla is the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere and is tied with a cave in Austria as the ninth deepest cave in the world.
  • Several Pleistocene megafauna skeletons were discovered including the only skull ever found of a species of giant ground sloth.
  • Five deep underground camps were supported and staffed throughout the duration of the exploration.
  • Dozens of new friends were made amongst the local Mazatec people.
  • The entire expedition was completed with zero accidents! 
  • The PESH Expedition support the following Mexican cave scientists in their quest for scientific data: 
  • Fernando Hernandez - A Mexican geology graduate student studying at Western Kentucky University; Hernandez has been writing his thesis on the groundwater chemistry of the Sistema Huautla. 
  • Dr. Oscar Francke - A renowned biologist from Mexico City. Dr. Francke was the recipient of numerous biological specimens collected at the Sistema Huautla. 
  • Dr. Ivan Alarcon - A Mexican governmental agency paleontologist.  Dr. Alarcon spent a week with the 2019 PESH expedition and is scheduled to begin an in-cave excavation of a giant ground sloth skeleton during the 2020 expedition.
  • Dr. Matthew Lachinet - A Professor of Geology at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The PESH team collected stalagmite samples and sent those to Dr. Lachinet for paleoclimate dating.
  • Amalia Montoya - A Mexican anthropologist specializing in the Mazatec belief of cave spirits.


Check out these videos from our trip featuring Collin Street Bakery fruitcake!

  • PESH caver, Paul Winter, prepares to go deep underground to explore and map the Sistema Huautla. As a part of his above-ground preparation, he packs his one-liter Nalgene bottle full of Collin Street Bakery Petites as a way to safely and compactly carry them from the above-ground campsite to the below-ground campsite. >> Loading Petites in a Nalgene Bottle
  • PESH cave explorer, Abbe Hamilton prepares her Petites for the long, demanding journey into the Sistema Huautla explaining why protecting her Petites is so important. >> Abbe Hamilton Packs Her Petites
  • PESH resident Tri-Leader, Alma Estrada Rodriguez, practices “fruitcake diplomacy” by presenting a DeLuxe® Fruitcake to two local Mazatec boys. Over the years, the PESH expedition group has discovered the local Mazatec people are huge fans of Collin Street Bakery’s fruitcake. >> Alma Estrada Rodriguez Practices Fruitcake Diplomacy

In summary, this year’s trip was exceptionally productive and positive. We have already begun a list of exploration objectives for next year. We look forward to Collin Street Bakery’s continued support of our original exploration and scientific endeavors. 

Exploringly Yours,

Bill Steele”

Regrettably, due to the unforeseeable circumstances surrounding the 2020 global pandemic, Bill Steele was forced to make the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 and 2021 PESH Expedition. However, in light of progress made towards the creation and distribution of a preventative vaccine, next years’ PESH expedition is planned to proceed as scheduled!

Collin Street is honored to be able to support PESH in its world-class original explorations and plans to continue providing annual support for their excursions.

Here at the Bakery, we love sharing unique stories of our fruitcake especially those which place our products in a new and exciting light. Fruitcake is often confined as a once-a-year holiday tradition. However, the PESH exploration team saw unchartered potential in our quintessential seasonal treat. We hope their story inspires others to see fruitcake as they did --the ideal treat for on-the-go explorers!

Feeling inspired by the PESH explorers? 

Interested in taking fruitcake with you on your next outdoor adventure? 

Collin Street is here with all your fruitcake needs! Shop our wide variety of DeLuxe® Fruitcake products to find the right fit for your fitness activity. 


Don’t forget to drop us a line of your fruitcake-fueled endeavors. If we love your story, we might even feature you on our website!

April 23, 2021
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