Spelunking – Sort of

I was wondering what to write about and at the same time, sorting through my huge file of pictures, and came across this one. Aha!

As I’ve mentioned here before, I lived in Kentucky for almost two years, in a place called Cave Creek. There are hundreds of miles of caves through KY, and I was fortunate to live in an area where caves were commonplace. We even had one in our back yard.

Though I never got seriously into spelunking (I’m not quite that adventurous and the thought of getting stuck in a dark cold cave really creeps me out) I did poke around the bigger ones, as well as the more open rock shelters and caverns. They are simply awe-inspiring. So, back to the photo. These are stalactites, ‘growing’ from the ceiling of one of the larger limestone caves.

As the water drips down on the ground, the limestone deposits will build up and form stalagmites, which then ‘grow’ up from the ground. After a few million years, if the water continues to drip, they meet in the middle. These are just ‘babies’ and have a few million years to go before they reach that point.

This cave doesn’t look so large from the outside (that dark hole in the center of this next photo (wherever Blogger chooses to deposit it in this text) is the entrance. Once through the opening, there’s a short scramble over rocks in an area only about four feet high, and then suddenly the ceiling vaults to 12 feet on a giant slab of tilting rock. A trickle of a stream runs through it, and the sound of dripping and gurgling water echoes from the back of the cave. The ceiling slab comes down in the center, and there is a passage on either side large enough for a small person to squeeze through. The amateur spelunker who was with us on this day went in one side while we waited, and promptly came back out. He was thoroughly spooked and refused to go any further – we respected that. I don’t believe in vampires, but I do believe in Spirits….

You would think that nothing can live without sunlight, but caves are home to a lot of critters that never see the light of day. This is one of the common cave crayfish that live in the complete, total, pitch blackness. You can’t imagine how dark it is inside a cave. Since there’s no sunlight and therefore no way to see in the dark, most cave critters are blind.

Since there is no need for pigment to protect them from the sun, or to protect them from predators (camouflage) many cave critters are either white or transparent. We brought this little fellow out just for a photo, then put him back where he was. He’s probably still telling his friends about his journey into the light….
The larger caves (and some are huge) were used as shelters and homes since the beginning of time. Most have been robbed or excavated, and there are artifacts of all kinds gathering dust on the shelves of a lot of native Kentuckians, and others. Some of the larger caves are now tourist attractions, with their own brochures.

I used to love to sit by the entrances of the larger caves, or spend time in some of the shelters, and imagine what went on there thousands of years ago. I think life was incredibly hard, but also incredibly beautiful for our Ancestors. Think of what the place must have looked like – the woods filled with ancient trees, birds, animals. I often find myself trying to imagine what a deep breath of fresh air must have been like back then, without a trace of any of the modern-day pollutants. And I often wonder if one of those people would even be able to take a deep breath today. Oh, for a time machine!

Well. Blogger has decided to stop uploading photos, but I’m not done yet. So maybe there will be a part 2, later.


3 Responses to “Spelunking – Sort of”

  1. Lynne Says:

    This is a neat post about caves. I’ve been in caves twice and was so creeped out, I think my cave days are over! I’ve heard Minnesota caves are pretty dull compared to others in the US. I’ll just have to experience them through others!

  2. LauraHinNJ Says:

    Really neat pics – especially the crayfish – I wonder what they eat?

  3. Home Improvement List Says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. Really is pack with new knowledge. Keep them coming.

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