One autumn afternoon several years ago, we were clearing saplings from an area of the property that needed to be "thinned." As we were hauling felled trees into a pile, we happened upon a depression in the ground that contained a dozen old logs piled parallel to each other. When one spends a lot of time in a forest, pattern recognition quickly alerts you to non-natural (i.e., human-made) objects or arrangements. Upon closer examination, these logs were piled onto a gate made of galvanized steel that appeared to be covering a hole in the ground. We pulled the logs off the gate and saw that the hole in the ground had been widened and fitted with an old rusted metal ladder that dropped several feet into complete darkness. Seriously, a hole in the ground through solid limestone. A hole that dropped several feet into darkness. What was in the darkness? An old moonshine still? We were absolutely and completely nonplussed. Neither of us felt like venturing down the ladder, so we covered the hole back up, tossed some leaves over it, and let it be.
|Gate Covered Hole|
|Hole in the Ground with a Ladder|
|LE Descending into the Hole|
The ladder was solidly affixed to something, the hole narrowed as one went down, and to maneuver further, one had to turn facing away from the ladder and slide down several feet onto a pile of dirt and leaves. After that, you could stand up in a cavern, which had a 20' ceiling. It was HUGE! As in, it was a cave! The cavern extended to the right into a large tunnel, and to the left into a smaller tunnel via a small opening in the rock. We headed off to the right, crawling over boulders, slipping on clay, trying not to touch anything, and in a complete state of amazement.
|Main Part of Cave|
Cavern with Water
|Tucker County Speleological Society w/Cathy|
|The Monster from Alien|
|Large Set of Formations and Flows|
|Long Tunnel Portion of Cave|
|Formations on Wall|
Think of all the caves that have been destroyed by mountain top removal. The hundreds of thousands of years this cave has existed compared to the 30 years we will own the property makes one pause. Nature may be important to us, but we're not particularly important to nature. It used to be that humans adapted to nature rather than adapting nature to humans. We disregard how important our environment is and how valuable it is to keep it clean, and sometimes we can undo millions of years of natural processes in the lifetime of one single person. We can destroy an entire mountain, a mountain that is hundreds of millions of years old, in the matter of a year or so.
|Bat Hanging from Ceiling|