Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gap Cave

A tiny subterranean salamander was a bright flash--invisible beauty except for those lucky enough to see one down under. (Photo taken w/o camera flash & w/ permission of Guide)

Cumberland Gap-Gap Cave
Ranger Matt lead our group of ‘spelunkers’ one hot July afternoon into the depths of Gap Cave. The coolness was a welcome change from the humidity and heat of a Southern summer day. We learned about the diverse history of the miles of subterranean caves in the area, including their use by Native Americans of the area, their shelter for Civil War soldiers, and their exploitation as tourist attractions decades ago—including one of its chambers being used as a popular dance hall. Our walk was surprisingly strenuous, with no amenities for handicap accessibility and rather rough wooden stairways to access some of the chambers. But there were enough stalagmites and glistening flowstone cascades, large and small chambers, and subterranean wildlife to capture all of our imagination. Our walk to the caves included a mile along the historic Wilderness Road.

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