We Go Down the Highway… To Mammoth Cave

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MARCH 27, 2016

Destination: Mammoth Cave National Park

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The highlight of our drive: crossing the mighty Mississippi River

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We find a nice peaceful spot in the campground to boon-dock for the next 2 nights.

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A late evening rumble of thunder announces a coming storm and we snuggle up under blankets as the rain washes the night, lightning blinks on and off, and the wind serenades us into slumber.


MARCH 28, 2016

A cold, overcast start to the day as we plan our morning hike… Since we toured the cave before, we decide to stay above ground this visit. We have hope that the sun will eventually find us as we begin our hike through the sandstone and shale ridges that lie over the more than 365 miles of cave passageways.

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The Green River runs through Mammoth Cave National Park for 27 miles. For awhile its Riverboats were the only way for visitors to reach the park.

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The River Styx branches off the Green River…

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…and forms a spring pool from a trickling mini-waterfall.

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This is the opening to the Dixon Cave, an area blocked off to the public as the rare Indiana bats hibernate inside. A sinkhole causing an underground landslide separated this cave from the rest of Mammoth Cave.

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Finally the clouds break up into patches of blue sky and the sun makes everything shine in various shades of green.

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Even the deer come out to enjoy the sunshine.

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Native Americans hunted animals in the Green River Valley and mined minerals and crystals from the caves in the area.

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More About Mammoth:

  • A In the 1790s European-Americans settled here and bought slaves to mine saltpeter from the cave to manufacture gunpowder.
  • A 17-year-old slave, Stephen Bishop, was one of the first to explore many miles of the cave.
  • He, along with 2 other slaves, Mat and Nick Bransford, began conducting cave tours in 1838.
  • Descendants of the Bransfords continued to guide tours for the next 100 years.
  • 350 million years ago a shallow sea covered the Mammoth Cave area.
  • Sediments from the sea formed limestone layers over a period of 70 million years.
  • Groundwater slowly dissolving the limestone continues to create the underground landscapes called karst topography.

All information above came from the National Park brochure, plaques on the trail, and nps.org.

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