While my photography has improved over the years I still struggle with caves, even those that have lights. Carlsbad Caverns is much more than what is represented here. Go see them in person, it is better.
Not far from Huntsville, Alabama is the amazing natural wonder of Cathedral Caverns. For the last 20 years the state of Alabama has owned the cave and operated it as a state park.
The entrance is said to be one of the world’s widest entrance to a ‘commercial cave’ at 25′ tall and 128′ wide.
This column has been named ‘Goliath’, one of the largest stalagmites in the world measuring 45′ high and 243′ in circumference. To get an idea of the size, note the walkway railing in the lower left corner of the photo compared to Goliath.
The cave is filled with amazing stalagmites and stalactites.
For many years the cave was owned and operated privately. Note the railing on the left side of the photo – that was the path that the original owners had put in. When the state took it over they built a nice walkway with no stairs that runs 3/4 of a mile back into the cave complex, allowing all to have the chance to experience it.
More of the interesting formations in the cave.
About 1/2 mile back into the cave you come to this amazing field.
The stalagmite called ‘Improbable’ is renown as it is only 3″ in diameter, and goes up at a 45 degree angle for 25′.
Cathedral Caverns is truly a wonder of nature, and well worth the trip to northern Alabama.
Day 10 started out with a Zodiac Boat tour down the coast to another snorkel location. A Zodiac boat is a rigid hull, inflatable boat that can go very fast across the water, as Captain Bill demonstrated.
Assisted by Chris, the first mate.
As we made our way down the coast we stopped by some sea caves.
Despite being formed by lava, they were very colorful.
We arrived at the bay where the snorkeling occurred. It is the bay where Captain Cook met his demise.
The snorkeling was great.
On our return trip we passed more sea cliffs
Along the way we encountered a group of ‘Spinning’ Dolphins, as this series of photos illustrate.
After returning to the boat, we made our way back to Kona one more time for a historic tour.
We toured the Queens summer palace.
Finally it was time to return to our home for the week.
In the small north central Pennsylvania mountain town of Coudersport is a cool (literally) little tourist attraction known as the Ice Mine.
Technically it is not a mine, it is a small cave that due to some unique geothermal reasons cold air gets trapped in the mountain during the winter. Once summer comes the cold air begins to expel the warm air, causing ice on the moisture that seeps into the mountain.
It had been a tourist attraction up until the 1960s when it closed, but has recently been re-opened.
We showed up because of a huge sign in town saying ‘Ice Mine is Open’, but as we arrived we found that it was supposed to open the next morning as we were met with a sign that said ‘closed’. Still I drove up.
We did however have the good fortune of meeting Gary, the owner, who was more than happy to show us around.
Sure enough on this 85 degree day ice was pushing up out of the ‘mine’, and the air temperature near it was about 45 degrees.
The ‘mine’ is at the bottom of a 17′ pit, and goes down another 17′ into the ground. As a result of the perpetually cold environment the moss and other growth in the pit is more similar to Northern Ontario than Northern Pennsylvania.
While not the most impressive sight around, it is still a very ‘cool’ experience, and Gary is a great guy who is proud of his hometown, and would welcome a visit – they are indeed now open for the summer. If you find yourself driving across historic U.S. 6 across northern Pennsylvania – go see him. And if you want to know more detail on how ice can form in the summer check out the wiki page
A full Saturday had us heading across the north central Ohio flatlands …
To – A Cavern! We have been in a number of caves and caverns before but the pancake flat Ohio countryside seems like an unlikely location for one. Aided by Google maps and about 50 road signs we arrived just as they opened for the morning.
The small tourist attraction is a family owned business, and it was quickly apparent they appreciate the people who showed up to tour their cavern. All who worked there were friendly and helpful.
Finally our time arrived and our tour guide Sam(antha) lead us down the stairs in the small gift shop to the start of the cave. I had previously read on Tripadvisor that unlike many of the larger ‘show caves’ this one meant actually getting a little dirty as you navigate the natural stairs – and they were right.
But we successfully made it down to level 2 where Sam explained the geology – it is a ‘Crack in the Earth’ cave – cause basically by a sinkhole, not water erosion.
The cave was discovered by two boys playing (aren’t they all) in the late 1800s, and up until the 1930s it was a fairly ambitious effort to go into the cave. Many who did left marks that they were there, including Mr Moyer who used his skill as a tombstone carver to leave a nice etching of his name in the late 1800s.
We continued further down, past a few fossil and very small stalactites to level 3.
The bottom of the cave has an aquifer known as the Old Mis’try River. The water levels will vary greatly depending on rain and we have had enough rain recently the water levels were fairly high. Look closely at the railing continuing down and you will see where the water level has filled the stairway to the next level (the water is the greenish tint).
Having gone as far as we could we started back up. Squeezing up some of the ‘stairways’ to the top. Sam was a great tour guide, informative without being boring, energetic and fun – making the hour long tour go by very fast. While not spelunking – it was adventurous enough for me.
If you would like a bit of caving Seneca Caverns in the Ohio flatlands is recommended.
Having made a number of trips to Hocking Hills State Park to hike the trails to the caves and cliffs, we thought we had seen them all. Fortunately this spring they opened a trail to a cave that had been off limits for 50 year, Whispering Cave.
Named so because of the acoustics that allows a person to whisper on one side and someone on the other side can hear what was said. The trail has been opened, and with an early start we had the place to ourselves.
Leaving Whispering Cave and continuing on the Hemlock Bridge Trail, we passed on great rock formations.
After a two mile hike we arrived at Lower Falls – Old Man’s Creek
The climb out of the gorge
Upper Falls – Old Man’s Creek
Interesting lighting on the cliff walls. It was a great day of hiking in the cliffs and gorges.
Another sunny warm April day took us to the Hocking Hills State Park in southern Ohio, where we hiked in three of the areas: