Monday, July 3, 2017

The Mammoth Cave

Historic Entrance Looking In
Historic Entrance Looking Out

    At this point in the summer, I'm starting to settle in among the division and feel a little more comfortable navigating the local area within Kentucky.
Portion of Domes & Dripstones Tour
    When I first arrived at Mammoth Cave National Park, I was somewhat suprised to know the main cave entrances were gated off. Not all cave entrances within the park are gated though. Once I thought from a resource protection and emergency services standpoint, I understood how important having the cave entrances gated off was. If someone were lost in the over 365 miles of surveyed passageway, it'd be a very consuming operation to find them. However, there are still another 400 cave and lesser cave entrances within park boundary that do not connect with the Mammoth Cave System. As you can imagine, that is as a tall task for the management of these formations. 
Portion of Historic Tour
    The Mammoth Cave is predominately a dry cave system, but there is a "dying cave" portion visible on the Domes & Dripstones Tour and other varying portions not available to the public. Cave Guides do an excellent job explaining the social history of the cave and the vast geologic history as well. I have been on three tours through the Mammoth Cave system thus far and hope to be on more soon. My first experience in a cave was on these tours. I was alongside my family who were on the same introduction as myself. Few miles of the Mammoth Cave System are available to the public by tour. The cave does open to cavers during the year, who attempt to explore more of the systems passageway. Probably the most noticeable thing about going into the underground is the difference in air temperature and quality. There is an initial chill creeping up from the ground as you descend down a hill to the historic entrance. As you approach the drip line of the cave entrance you will find yourself enveloped by that creep. Soon your body acclimates to the sensation. Then you will notice how crisp and clean the air that you're breathing feels. Another special experience on these tours, is the complete darkness allowed by the Cave Guides cutting there lights once far enough into the tour. By experiencing that, it allowed me to have a slight understanding and further appreciation for the various species of wildlife that live in caves.

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