This weekend a friend and I headed down to Kentucky to Mammoth Cave National Park. We both had wanted to visit the park, which protects the largest cave system in the world, with over 400 miles mapped out! We had decided that we could do the “Wild Cave Tour,” billed as “extremely strenuous” (although reviews and the website said it was ok for people in decent shape who can walk a few miles and climb up some stairs). Not knowing what to expect, we headed out excited and a little nervous!
We got to the park, got on our tour, met the guides, and changed into our caving jumpsuits and helmet lanterns. Then, they took us down into the cave, where we hiked, crawled, slid, climbed, and wiggled our way through 5 miles of tunnels, canyons, crevices and paths. As you might imagine, the cave is pitch black and our headlights were the only light, and cameras were not recommended anyway, so I don’t have any pictures of us in the cave. But, to give you an idea, here is one from the visitor center of ‘canyon walking,’ where you put one foot and one arm on one side of a canyon and the other foot and arm on the other side:
Needless to say, my friend and I got dirty, and had an awesome time! We had a caving adventure, as we squeezed through holes just big enough for our shoulders, crawled through the “Cheese Grater” tunnel, bouldered up rocky vertical paths, and gazed at the beautiful caverns, canyons, pits, waterfalls, and rock formations that we passed in a wildly diverse geological formation. To top it all off, we got to go into parts of the cave most people don’t see, and parts that the National Park Service doesn’t even put on their map! (See the arrow pointin into the darkness for the “Wild Cave Tour?!)
As you can tell from the smiles on our faces, we had an amazing time after 6 hours in the caves! A challenge, but not impossible, and full of awesome memories, unique experiences, and a couple of sore muscles.