Monday, September 9, 2013

The beauty of caves

First, a disclaimer. I am not talking about spelunking. I'm way to claustrophobic for that, but I find power when visiting the entrances of caves. There's something about the silent secrets that huddle inside, deep in the shadows, just out of reach, hmmm. Maybe it's because my next book will focus on dragons, but I'm drawn to caves right now, and the high bluffs along the Mississippi river were a perfect destination.
The sandstone bluffs wear away slowly in the driftless area (which I'll discuss in a separate post), and they are now dotted with mostly small, colorful caves. Wyalusing and Perrot State Parks promised a series of caves on the various hikes, one of which you have already seen, but there were more.
Most caves seem to start like this. It's called Horseshoe falls, but wasn't running. I'm certain it gushes in the spring or during heavy rains, but it's been dry for over a month. As the water falls over the brim, it splashes back against the base and wears the cliff away. If the upper levels are more resistant, a cave begins to form.
This was at Perrot on the Nature trail. I normally avoid these overly tread trails in favor of the longer, more remote hikes, but I decided to give it a try. Boy, I'm glad I did. The sign below this cave said that as recently as the 1800's humans used caves in the area as temporary shelter. This was large enough to stand up in.
Then I found these on the same trail. Now wonder I felt like I was being watched, even though I was alone. I suppose they will eventually merge, but the pair which began as tiny chips in the sandstone are really cool.
Back at Wyalusing. I decided to take the trail to Big Sand Cave.
I fell in love with this cave. In the upper photo you can see the tiny trickle of water flowing into and then along the back side of the base.
Look at the color. How could you not love that?
Here the tiny stream exits the cave after having swooped along the back edge, always slicing deeper into the sandstone.
Notice the upper layer bleeding onto the vibrant golden orange. Looks almost like writing to me.
Magical, just Magical.
Caves are alive. It's almost like you can feel your heart beating while your standing inside. And these had layer upon layer of soft grains of sand built up on the floor, like a beach.

Barely a breeze stirred outside, but these webs floated in the swirling air current as it entered the mouth of the cave.
I left a few caves for my next visit. I didn't want to be greedy and ruin the surprise for my next trip to the Mississippi. Still I have more to share about my journey. Keep clicking back.

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