Mammoth Cave Adventure Day 4: The Cave

SDC12013After a fine night of sleep and a MOST excellent breakfast, we headed out Thursday AM for Mammoth Cave National Park. We got there over an hour before our 10:30 tour time just to make sure we had the tickets I ordered online the night before. After getting the tickets quickly and without a problem, we did some souvenir shopping in the gift shop of the Mammoth Cave Hotel.

After the obligatory warnings and disclaimers from our tour guide, we hopped on the tour bus for the short ride to the entrance for our tour. We took the “Grand Avenue” tour, a 4 1/2 hour tour that was about a 4 mile hike and 4 hours in the cave.  I found the majority of the tour a bit anticlimactic. There were some narrow passageways that were pretty cool and the size of the cave is pretty impressive (it is mammoth you know), but the majority of the tour wasn’t particularly awe-inspiring.  But the boys loved it all and the tour ends rather spectacularly at “Frozen Niagara”. 

SDC11979I visited Mammoth Cave in April of 1971 (when I was 7), but the only thing I had just a vague memory of was the Snowball Lunch room which was about an hour into our tour (and about 2 hours after our big breakfast).  Other than the spectacular finish at Niagara, I think the highlight of our tour was a resting spot where the guides demonstrated what total darkness and total silence was like.  It really was a “wow” moment and unlike anything I had experienced before.

Our guide shared a few stories along the way. The best one had to be about the guy who was on the same tour we were in 1993. He was towards the back of the pack taking a lot of pictures and he felt like the trailing guide was rushing him. So he found a spot where he could duck in undetected and the guide passed by him without seeing him. His idea was to hang back and join up with the next tour that followed.  What he didn’t know was that there wasn’t another Grand Avenue Tour that day!

The way the tours work is that the lights on the trail ahead get turned on by the guide in front and then turned off again by the guide at the back. So this man ended up sitting in that total darkness and total silence for 24 hours! Worse yet, the day of his tour was the day before his daughter’s wedding so he ended up missing it the next day. :(   When they found him on the trail, he was banging two rocks together to make noise. He said it wasn’t the total darkness that bothered him so much as the total silence.

SDC12027We got back to the visitor center right at 3:00 and after a couple stops, found our way back to Horse Cave and our Hampton Inn where after a late lunch, we spent most of the rest of the evening in the pool/pool area. Got the boys to bed early since we were going to lose an hour on Friday going back to Indy and the “Carribean Cove” waterpark.

We’ll be headed home first thing Saturday AM, so it remains to be seen when I’ll get around to posting on Friday’s fun. Graduation party Saturday afternoon and then Sunday is Father’s Day, so it might be Monday.  We’ll see I guess.


Clark & Josh

P.S. – The short video below is from a point on the trail where the guide chose Joshua to plug their “Wild Cave” tour where they do a lot of crawling through small spaces.

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