Kentucky is famous for it's vast number of caves. But not just anyone can go exploring them. An Eagle Scout from another troop is a member of a local grotto, and they invite us to go caving with them at least once a year now. I gotta tell you...I LOVE GOING CAVING!!! I may come out sore and muddy, but it's way too much fun to let that get in the way.
When we go, we usually drive out to the preserve in Rockcastle County on a Friday night, and set up camp. This is what the preserve looks like in daylight and and it's not raining! Camp was way down the road there!
This year it was pouring rain (and dark) when we got there, and we had to set up tents in that mess! Our tent (a larger tent we jokingly call the Taj Mahal) has a screen top, then is covered with a dew flap after setting up the tent. Imagine what a problem that is in the pouring rain! Yes...we had puddles in the tent! Big ones! Some folks opted to sleep in their vehicles, not a bad idea! Sorry, no photos of the wet stuff...all that wet stuff is bad for the camera.
After setting up camp, we got a guided tour of the Great Salt Petre Cave. For you movie fans who have seen Fire Down Below with Jean-Claude Van Damm, the mine scene near the end of the movie where things start going Boom...was filmed in the Great Salt Petre Cave. A few props are still there too. Apparently, they didn't think the cave had enough real rocks!
Here are some of the boys posing for the camera before the tour. Far right is my Jeff, and far left is my Travis. Cute eh?
And here we are about to enter the cave (see how wet we are?)
Photographing this cave is very difficult because it has some electric lights. Not enough to be able to keep the flash off, but enough that using the flash is also a problem. So I was thrilled that any pictures from there turned out good. (especially since last year I took the camera but left the batteries in the charger!)
Here is my favorite photo taken in that cave:
Somewhere along the tour, our guide stops us, asks us to look down the passage to see if we see the Abe Lincoln formation.
It's not actually a formation in the true sence of the term, but the way the light plays with the shape of the passageway...well...you can see his famous profile!
Here is not as good of a shot, but it shows some of our group to give you an idea of the size.
The next morning we crawled out of our wet tents fairly early, grabbed a quick breakfast and split up into two groups to go into two seperate caves. Large groups just aren't a great idea in these caves. I chose to go in the cave called Arthur Singleton's Cave. It is known for prettier formations than some of the others and that's all I need to hear (besides that it was a fairly easy cave to explore!). I had already fitted the water tight box we got for canoeing, with foam and my camera fit in perfectly, protecting it from puddles and scrapes. We geared up, and drove to the entrance. Here you see me tying my shoes, and Tim doing...(?)
Before ducking into the cave, we decided we needed a before and after shot, knowing we'd emerge muddy messes. So I balanced the camera on my back pack and the camera case, set the timer and kneeled down a bit so I wouldn't hide the others. We went in right behind the guy on the far right. And that's my oldest son, Tim, on my left.
As soon as we entered the cave we had to do some crawling. When we got to a place to stand and take out the camera I took some shots of the guys exploring a passage way and some formations. This is Tim coming back through the passageway
As you can see, photographing these caves are much more satisfactory. Everywhere you turn in there, you say ""eeeewwww" or aaaaahhh". Simply amazing!
There were many tight places in this cave, requiring us to become more flexible than us older folks knew we could be. This photo was taken after such a place, where we not only had to wiggle thru some places, but also had to slide down one-by-one. That's our scout master closest to the camera.
The water looked so clear, and babbled like any above ground stream.
There is a room in the cave that the cavers call The Mud Room. Some of us arthritic folks didn't think that sounded worth crawling into, but we were assured that it would be worth it. We tend to trust our cave guide, so we went, and yes...it was worth it! I took lots of photos of cave art in there! Here is just a couple of my favorites... a caver dude...
There's even a marriage proposal! (look, it says "YES" underneath!)click the photo to enlarge then look near the cave cricket, the thing that looks like a spider
Another area us old timers were reluctant to climb up to was the Imperial Room. It looked like a difficult climb for our weary limbs, but again, we were assured it would be worth it. And, again, it certainly was! Here's a glimpse...
After all that excitement it was time to crawl back out. My arms were so sore after all that, our scout master busted up one of his knee pads, we were all muddy, but totally excited about our adventure. Once back out of the cave, we tried posing for the after shot. After being in the cool cave and with all the moisture in the air I was having some major lens fog! But I managed to prop the camera back up on the backpack and waterbox again, set the timer (finally!) and RUN! MOST of us stood in the same place as before, but I guess a couple guys missed the memo on that!
If you ever get an opportunity to go caving, especially wild caving....DO IT! It's awesome fun you'll never forget!
A little dirt won't hurt ya!
this is my backpack and my shoes after we got out. There was so much mud on my backpack I could no longer zip the zipper.....time to go home and do some laundry!
And for those who have been wondering this whole time....yes we saw bats! In the rafters of the picnic shelter, nesting between sheets of plywood, and flying around us. We even saw one or two flying around in Arthur Singleton's Cave! We also saw cave crickets, and a salamander!