|The troop pauses among the cave formations for a group photo.|
|Will manages to escape the maze with someone's shoe.|
|Trey attempts (unsuccessfully) to hold onto his shoes.|
|Entering the door to the underworld.|
Cumberland Caverns is one of many caves that abound in this region of Tennessee and Kentucky. The cave was ostensibly discovered in 1810 by surveyor Aaron Higgenbotham who explored the cave by torchlight before losing the torch and spending three days trapped in complete darkness before he was rescued. It is said that his hair turned completely white during those three days in the cave (something we hoped to avoid). The current cave configuration was originally believed to be two separate caves, which were named Henshaw and Higgenbotham caves. A connection between the caves was discovered in 1953 and it was renamed Cumberland Caverns when it opened to public tours in 1955. Today, over 32 miles of the cave are part of various tours and adventure programs. These activities include daily walking tours for the general public, overnight stays in the cave, spelunking trips through unimproved sections, and music festivals such as their popular Bluegrass Underground venue. They even hold weddings in there.
After we dropped off our gear in the 10-acre room where we would spend the night, it was off on the daily walking tour. We visited a moonshine still and a saltpeter mining operation in the original Henshaw part of the cave, passed through the Volcano Room with its crystal chandelier (rescued from a NYC opera house), had our photo taken in the Boneyard, and climbed the 354 stairs across the Hall of the Mountain King. The last stop on the tour was the light show that highlights Aaron Higgenbotham's discovery of the cave and his three days of seclusion.
|Checking out the water feature in front of a formation known |
as Moby Dick (due to its resemblance to a whale, or so they say).
|Camp, Rusty, Jacob, and Miles model the latest in protective headwear and illumination.|
|Connor negotiates a ladder at the start of the tour.|
|Jacob follows Rusty through a tight spot |
while trying to avoid getting kicked.
|Boone seems happy to take a rest stop in the mud.|
|Michael, Joe, and Samuel revel in the chance to wash the mud from their hands.|
The exertions of the evening had differing effects on the scouts. Some headed to the cave's snack bar to renew their energy with a good dose of nachos while others wanted little more than to crawl deep into their sleeping bags for the chance to dream about the comforts of home. However, by midnight, all were safely ensconced in the realm of Morpheus (that is, they were asleep).
|The troop's designated camping area among the rocks.|
Monday's PLC meeting gave the troop's youth leadership the chance to reflect upon the positives and negatives of the trip. All agreed that the chance to try something different from our regular campout venues was good. They also praised our cave guide and the adventure tour. The food got high marks, although it was generally agreed that more food at breakfast would have been better. While the trip was multifaceted, the scoutmaster's wife put the best description on it by saying, "You went to a hole in the ground and you had fun. What more can you say than that?"
Be sure to check out the other photos in the online photo album.