“They wound this way and that, far down into the secret depths of the cave”
– Mark Twain (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
Hanging out in Mammoth Cave with my beautiful new wife I couldn’t help but be reminded of Tom and Becky’s time in the cave. Granted our paths weren’t lit by candles and we didn’t run into Injun Joe, but it was still fun to wander in the massive dark.
Mammoth Cave is actually the longest known cave system in the world! There are over 400 miles that have been explored.
Here we are pretending that we are cave creatures. I am definitely scarier than Madison.
After our self tour, we wanted to experience all that the park had to offer above ground. The thing is, a lot of the trails we wanted to do were on the other side of the park – and there was a river that was keeping us from getting there. When we looked at the map, we saw that there was a ferry. We really didn’t want to pay to ride a ferry and looked to see if there was a bridge down stream at all. There was nothing. We decided to go and see what the cost of the ferry was and just scope it out. And I am so glad we did! IT WAS FREE! Not only was it free, but it was awesome. In fact, it was so awesome, we were too busy geeking out over the ride, that we forgot to take a single picture. We recorded a few videos, so you’ll have to watch if you want to see it.
When we finally calmed down from the river ride, we got the bikes down and started pedaling. The trail was almost completely covered in leaves. This made it a little difficult to know where we were going, but we eventually found our way (just before the sun went down!)
Madison has been shredding on her bike. This trail was a perfect speed for both of us. There was some fun flow, and nothing too crazy fast.
After we loaded up the bikes, and let the Kitty wander, we went tearing down the hill to catch the ferry again. Luckily there were some signs warning us about the abrupt end of the road!
Here is a photo of the ferry the second time we crossed. It was seriously one of the cooler moments of the park for me.
The next morning, we jumped on a guided tour! We read that the Domes and Dripstones tour was one of the best options – luckily there were a few openings left!
Our guide was hilarious. She was so nice and answered all of our questions. I actually learned a lot about how the caves work! It was really interesting to see the difference between the wet and the dry sections of the cave.
The part of the cave the we were able to tour ourselves the day before was the “dry” section. The rooms were huge, but there weren’t any decorations. Things got way more interesting as we crossed into the leaky cave section.
Midway through the tour, as we stopped to look at a few features, a creepy crawly tried to get on Madison! The thing is, she didn’t know! A huge cave cricket came off the wall and got his front two little legs on Madison! Luckily I saw it and I pushed her out of the way (with about the force as someone would to tackle them out of the path of a moving truck). Mission save-my-wife accomplished.
The most famous feature on the tour was “Frozen Niagara”. We were able to walk behind the massive dripstone and take in the massiveness of it all. The kids on the tour were blown away – it was funny listen to all the oohs and aahs as they stood underneath it all.
Cave pictures are always creepy (and freaking hard to take in the low light).
The tour ends with a revolving door exit. It kind of felt like we would exit onto the street and maybe catch a cab somewhere. Instead there was a bus full of all of our tour friends (we were the last ones to get out – oops, we were those people.)
In order to protect the bat populations of the area, everyone has to walk across the soapy mats. It kills the disease, and gives the kids something to bounce on. Before we went into the cave, the Ranger asked, “are there any questions?” One of the kids asked, “do we really get to walk across a soapy mat at the end?” The simple things in life, right?
Cats weren’t allowed in the underground (even though I still believe that they rule the Underworld – but thats a different thing). When we came back to the surface, Vladimir desperately needed some parking lot play time. We played fetch for about 20 minutes, and they he got hungry and went back inside the RV for some crunchies.
Our last push in the park was the boardwalk trail right next to the sign. The kitten LOVED it. It was the perfect trail for him! He was able to walk down the guardrail almost the entire way! Just goes to show, with a little bit of direction, even cats can walk in a straight line!
The only problem was, when the railing ended, he tried to climb every tree on our way.
Mammoth Cave was a blast – both above and below ground. It made me want to be more like Tom Sawyer.