Tuesday, April 15, 2014


The snow had been falling relentlessly for a week with no indications that it would stop.  A two foot wide trail was left behind the deer carcass that was slowly being dragged by a man slumped over to his task.  A band of wide rawhide lay flat across his forehead to utilize the strength of powerful neck and upper back muscles in conjunction with arms like iron wood to pull the dead weight over frozen ground and the deep snow.  The cave opening lay just ahead and he could just make out the glow from the warming fire that his mate had lighted in preparation for his return from the hunt.  The woman that awaited him appeared from the hole in the mountain and approached the warrior to relieve him of his dead quarry.  Only quick murmurs were exchanged between the two as he withdrew his head from the leather band and dropped the deer to the ground and proceeded to walk into the darkness of the cave.  Of a sudden the earth shook and they both raised their faces to the heavens in shock.  Neither one noticed the boulders bounding down the side of the mountain until a  pumpkin size rock fell with a ka-chunk to the ground beside the woman.  Her man turned toward her and then raised his face to the mountain side as he heard rock collide with rock and saw too late the enormous boulder that was on an eminent collision with his head.  Too late to move - the boulder crushed the side of his skull as it passed by him and rolled on into the river beyond.

She could not dig the required hole to bury him due to the solid rock beneath her feet and she felt she would pull him to the deepest part of this cave to preserve his spirit with the earth.

It took her a full day to drag her dead companion all the way to the rear of the cave where his spirit could reside with all those who were placed into the ground before him.  She would leave him there and travel on, never to return.

The clock moves ahead 30 centuries - 3000 years to 1983.

Many individuals have used the cave for shelter over the that great expanse of time. From ancient times through the tortuous Medieval ages and across the span of uncountable unknown human conflict to include the 7 Year War between the two super powers of the world, France and England, the American Revolution, The Civil War - this cave gave refuge to the needy and to those who wished to temporarily evaporate from the ills of social injustice and it also proved the focal point for those with scientific minds to delve into the mysteries it secreted away within its dank and dark depths.

Imagine, if you will, the surprise and delight when two professors from The University of Tennessee entered the cave in 1983 to study bats and discovered the human skeletal remains of an ancient hunter,  at the back of the cave, 1.5 miles away from the entrance,  that proved to be over 3000 years old.  Imagine that!

I hope you liked the little tale I just told.  It is historically accurate but I did embellish the story with the characters I added.  
Above is the first thing you see when you walk through the entrance of the property where the cave is located.  I did look into a bit of the history of the cave and what I found is interesting.
A Robert Hook who was a former Confederate General from North Carolina bought the cave in 1869.  I'm not sure who he got it from.  The history about this cave is sketchy and inconsistent depending how much of and what one reads about it.  Anyway, he had it mined for bat guano.  That is well documented and fact.  However, some articles indicate the bat guano was used to augment the shortage of salt peter used in gun powder, which I find doubtful.  Another article indicates the guano was used as a powerful natural fertilizer, which I suspect is the real purpose for the mining of such a unique product.  I'm not spending an enormous amount of time in this research as I want to do a blog entry and not an historical essay.  Although, the write-up on Scona Lodge was more of an essay than a write-up.  But, I digress.
Mr. Hook turned the cave over to The Indian Cave Park Association, formed after the procurement of the cave, for the purpose of  public information and profit through ticket sales.

The trail of ownership is vague at this point and not well documented.  I'm familiar with this lack of historical detail about such topics and it is a shame that more focus isn't applied to the recording of these events.

Some information indicates that one Hunter Chapman bought the cave and another article says that a "Monday Foundation" purchased it.   I'll leave it there for now.  The most current "owner" passed away only last February, 2014 and the curators are maintaining the property now.  That's the extent I care to discuss the issue of ownership at this time.   As I mentioned in the Wolf Dog entry;  I didn't think to ask permission to use names in this entry and I shall not do so even though the curators have become extremely close and important friends of mine.  It's just how I am.  Anyway - the gate is opened and into the darkness we go:

This is one of the most wonderful places I have ever visited in my life.  I haven't been in many caves, ever, and the ones I've visited had the Disneyland aura about them. This cave is the real deal and it feels it too.
Yes, that's a waterfall.  There is a really pretty stream inside the cave that runs the length of it.  I still don't have a good lens that will work well with the big camera.   This is a 25 to 135 mm telephoto which is not the best.  The shots are the best I could do with the gear.  Most came out good but, only good.
Above is a shot of the ceiling.  I've noticed that the most unusual and interesting facets of this cave, or most caves, are the rock formations and odd surfaces that are uniquely different from the normal.  Therefore, the pictures in this entry will be of the unusual, individual rock formations I noted.
There is a pretty good shot of the waterfall.  I can't describe the beauty of this stream.  It's somehow not a shame that so beautiful a thing lays hidden from view of those who are too lazy to seek it out.
Above, the water flows into or out of another chamber or room.  OOHWEE!
Mineral deposits slowly drip from the ceiling and solidify to form the rock like mass we know as stalagmites.  The process takes centuries.
Above is a shot of a ceiling that if full of sparkle.  I tried my best to capture the sparkle that proved dazelling in the dark cave but I doubt I did justice to the subject.
Above:  the formation of stalagmites and stalactites sometimes result in the two entities joining an combining their structures into one solid pillar.  Again, this takes centuries to occur - a brief quick breath on the clock of rockology.  (new word)
And, what do we have here?  I'm going to take a shot at identifying this little fellow and say it's a "little brown bat".  Seriously.  That's the name of the bat.
Go here:   http://www.tnbwg.org/TNBWG_MYLU.html   You may have to copy/paste the link.

I was wondering why we weren't seeing the billions of bats I used to read about and see on TV.  Seemed odd to only see this little fellow.
Then one more appeared.

I was constantly shining the light here and there and everywhere trying to drink in the information and scenes.
 One has to see this in person to get a real feel for the  mind boggling effect it has on your eyes.

Below is a shot straight overhead of the ceiling.  I hope these photographs reproduce well when the entry is published.
The following three photos are simply "Smashing!"

 The water flows in and out of cavernous holes that lead into "who knows what areas" beyond imagination.

Above:  Like two ancient lovers, the two move closer and closer together until one day they will meet and join together for eternity.  Just a few more centuries more is all that is required.  No sense in rushing things.
The visions in this cave are nothing short of spectacular!  I am impressed beyond words.  What a shame to hide this beauty so far in the ground - like a princess in a castle tower forever protected from the world.  But then to trust the treasures to greedy eyes would surely prove its demise over time.  Like the princess hidden in the tower -  better to shelter the treasure in this ancient, dark vault for all time.

The pathway crosses over the icy stream.
Below:  the cave ceiling directly overhead.  Amazing textures!

Below is a line of rocks with water flowing over.  Very appealing and a place that would make a nice picnic spot.
All of a sudden I noticed an immediate, instantaneous coolness and an odd smell.  It all occurred within one foot step.  I took a step backward and the smell diminished and the air warmed.  I took a step forward and the air was cool and the smell returned.  I mentioned it to my guide and she also noticed it and said the sensation was unfamiliar.  I heard what sounded like footsteps ahead and I had a little surge of blood pressure and I asked about it.  Her reply was that it was just water.  I acknowledged the information with gratefulness and the sudden spike of blood pressure was alleviated..  
Our bright lights scanned across the roof of the cave and all of a sudden the air was filled with beating wings.  Great Scott!  What's happening?  She said, "it's bats"!  Of course, I knew that.  I was testing her knowledge:)
The bats came off the ceiling in great numbers.  I couldn't keep my face exposed due to the passing wings that were constantly fluttering against me.  The varmints touched the top of my head and flew across my arms, neck and back.  I felt them brushing gently against my knees and rear end as they passed by.  The only way I got these shots was to hold the camera toward the ceiling and blindly snap the pictures.  Most of the colony was airborne by the time I took these pictures.  The thing about this was that the bats were not leaving.  They were flying round and round in the immediate space below their ceiling, not travelling down either corridor of the cave at all.  We were in the middle of constant airborne bat movement.  Then I felt tiny warm touches on my neck.  Yikes! Bat guano!  I said, "lets get out of here fast!  We'll be covered with tons of bat guano if we stay."  I didn't really say that but I was thinking it.  I could see the headlines now:  "Two cave walkers killed when they were covered with tons of bat shit and died of suffocation".  What a way to go!!!

We did turn and leave at that point.  We were only half way through the cave and a lot was left to be investigated.  I didn't know how to get past the bats though.  Oh well!
 Above and below:  Cave ceiling
Then someone yelled, "thars a light up above, we're saved!!"    I always wanted to yell that.  
Notice the cross upper right corner of the picture above.  What a wonderful experience.  I have to ask permission from my friends to use their names on this blog.  This cave can be visited and enjoyed.  I don't know the cost for an admission but whatever it is the price is worth the experience and more.  For more information contact the number below and enjoy another slice of life:
Hope you enjoyed this entry and please pardon the gentle humor.  See ya.