Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cumberland Caverns

Two weekends ago Paul, Jennifer, Steve and Angela and I met Dave (and a couple hundred of other cavers including Avis and Gerald, Ron and Cathy, Tim and Berta and Bill and Miriam) for the Cumberland Caverns Christmas party in TN.

We'd signed up for the Monument Pillar wild cave trip at noon on Saturday. The trip was an easy two hour jaunt into Cumberland's 30 or so miles of cave, and our fearless guide apparently hadn't been there in 20 some odd years - so there was a bit of poking around a bit in breakdown before we found the correct route.

Fearless leader (far left) and some of the crew taking a pit stop somewhere along the route to M.P.

Jennifer took this great picture of Paul and I when we stopped for a snack in the Waterfall Room (it was more like a trickle what with the lack of rain) Thanks Jennifer!

Monument Pillar did not disappoint. Paul remarked that it was one of the prettiest formations he'd ever seen. I'll have to admit it was quite stunning. For me its now ranked third on the all-time WOW factor. (right after G.P. in R.F. and A.S.) Mark J. and his gal had some great headlamps (The lights they had were fantastic - brightest I've ever seen - and home made - some sort of high intensity bulb that puts out white light like an LED - but is not an LED. Only drawback I saw was the massive battery packs they had to tote around.) But thanks to them I was able to take a few really nice shots of Monument Pillar. Thanks guys!

At the bottom of the pillar is a fantastic crystal lined pool of water (very similar to what's in the Crystal room in Sauta) about 7 feet in diameter. The pillar itself was upwards of 15 feet tall and about 6 feet in diameter. The whole thing was sparkles all around.

The group poked around a bit more and then headed on out. We got cleaned up and took the 4pm commercial tour - which provided me with my first glimpse of the dining room with its crystal chandelier that originally came from some posh New York hotel. Wild.

Then it was on past some equipment used for salt petre production - like this 86 Gallon behemoth from Columbus Iron Works used to boil down salt petre leachings after it was processed through the vats.

And on past some nice deep pools like this one

There's tons of historic grafitti throughout Cumberland Caverns. Some smoked in the walls and ceilings, some carved, some written. I really liked this rock with the the summer school class of 1903.

There are some really grand formations on the commercial tour - well worth seeing if you're in the area.

After the tour it was on to turkey dinner with peach cobbler.

As we were waiting in the line for dinner I noticed what was featured on the snack bar and got down-right hysterical. Dry Socks anyone? Only $1.50!

A final shot of the chandelier overhead.
Wishing you and yours a very cool caver Yule to all!

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At 5:50 AM, Blogger Solow said...

Nice photos and blog. We missed the CCCP this year but maybe we can do it next year. Y'all hang in there and have a Merry Christmas!

Dr Beaner

At 6:09 AM, Blogger Laura said...

okay WAIT - i am seriously confused - why the heck is there a chandalier hanging in the middle of a giant cave?
i love the pic of you and paul - so sweet!!!!! someday i will meet you paul . . .someday.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Brina Bat said...

This was my very first CCCP Dr. Beaner!

Laura - the chandelier hangs in a rather large room with a balcony. Its where the snack bar and all the tables we had dinner on. Can't really say why they decided to hang it up other than - "hey wouldn't it be cool to have a chandelier in our cave?" So they did! Jennifer asked our guide how they clean it and he said they build a scaffold and then have the tour guides go at it with windex and a rag and then replace all the burnt out bulbs. He went on to say he tries to be sick that day.

At 9:09 PM, Blogger Anne said...

I think the chandelier looks amazing in there! The last picture on your post is awesome.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Laura said...

oh my, okay i didnt realize that the snack bar and everything was ALSO IN the cave. freaky weird!! (but cool too. but also freaky. . .freaky weird.)


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