Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth cave is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  It is the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored.  The park was established as a national park on July 1, 1941. It became a World Heritage Site on October 27, 1981, and an international Biosphere Reserve on September 26, 1990.

Below is the chronology of wild caving tour at Mammoth cave, took place on Oct 12, 2015.  You can enlarge the photos by clicking on it.

On October 12, 2015, I finally crossed off my long postponed quest from my adventure list.  I was at 300 ft below the ground surface, crawling through 5-6 miles underground passages for 6+ hours; this is equivalent to living a life in full.


Caving route in blue on the map – 5 to 6 miles.


Battery charging station


Sizing the outfit and distributing gears: headlamp, helmet, bandana, gloves, fanny pack and caving suit.


Instructions on how to suit up our gears


Headlamp was mounted steadily on the helmet.


Arrived at the destination – picking up our final gear, knee pads.


Put on knee pads


Civilized entrance – going down to the cave


Showing us the rustic way of caving hundred years ago, before carbide lamp and LED light was invented.


Pointing at Gypsum.


Feather like Gypsum – It takes 1,000 years for gypsum to grow to the thickness our fingernails. More reason to preserve it.


Starry chamber


Graffiti left on the wall by former cave explorers @ Cleveland Ave.


Fish rock marked our first entrance to wild caving tour.


First entrance to wild cave passage


Our guides — Jacob and Autumn.


Group snap!


Preparing to crawl through a small opening.


His body was stuck in the hole; noticed he had to keep one arm up and the other arm down to create more shoulder space to crawl out, but he was completely stuck. His head was facing sideway. Kicking and pulling did not help him. This was the smallest opening to get through in the entire passages we crawled through.


He shout loudly for help after getting stuck and struggling for a few minutes, not realizing we’re watching him from near distance because all he could see was the dirt and cave wall. It could be that he was panicking as well. Kicking and pulling doesn’t seem to get him out of the hole.


Help from Jacob — Jacob offered him his leg so he can pull himself out from the hole. Rules: no pulling or pushing while helping others as you might injure or dislocate caver’s joints. Offer them something firm such as arm or leg to grab on and pull themselves out.


The fallopian tube, left tube is tighter than the right. This passage is called “the fallopian tube” because it branches out into two small tunnels.


Better image to show both left and right tubes. The tubes look bigger from outside, but you can see the dark smaller circle inside.


He had to move the rock to the side to come out.


Easy climb


Climbing up and over big rocks.


Drip stone. That tiny puddle is water accumulated from drip stones on the cave ceiling. I had seen big, green and clear water accumulated from drip stone before. But, they’re not safe to drink. Pollution to the underground water is getting worse as human occupied more areas on the ground surface and that can impact the ecosystem and life beneath the ground surface in a large scale. There are eyeless fish, crayfish, and other aquatic animals that live inside the cave. That’s why I kept saying the World #7 Great Extinction could be very much caused by human being esp. if we do not improve, grow and mature faster than the global threat we imposed onto ourselves and the planet. Else, only when human extinct then the planet can find its cosmic balance again.


Resting and waiting for others to join us.


Spotted a hand


Human crawling through


This is the entrance to Sharon passage – the less visited passage in Mammoth cave as you have to crawl on muddy water at 50+ degree Fahrenheit.


My buddies were still crawling through mud water as I snapped a photo of them from a higher ground at lower clearance where water couldn’t flow through.


The guide, Jacob, went back to one of the passages to find the lost fellow cavers.


Fellow cavers


This is considered plenty of space already. As you can see, people are getting comfortable.


Low clearance – pay attention to the reflection of the water.


Me and Mammoth cave


The pack behind them is the first-aid kit. They’re so happy to cave with me because none of them took photos at all. I shared these with them. “Happy cavers!”


Jacob showed up!


Sliding and climbing down big rocks. Notice that Autumn already knew there were holes she could step on to climb down. I didn’t know, I scooted all the way and the final drop was a long stretch for my leg to reach the ground. Don’t twist your ankle while jumping down. (I didn’t jump, I reached as far as I can) Shorty has less benefit. But, I can fit easily into tight spots.


Me and other caver


Me and other caver


Candice and I


This is the toughest challenge for me because I can’t do a three-point-contact. My body, arms and legs are too short, I have to lean forward to reach the wall across me, slowly walked myself halfway through. Then, I had to do a big split in order to reach my foot to the next stepping point, so I can hold onto a rock and walked myself to the final edge of the pit. The pit was dark; obviously, I have no intention to drop and break a bone.


Ole oil lamp found.


Really tall dome, my light can’t reach the top.


Climbing up – this was one of the challenging climbs. We had to use our knee pads as friction to climb coz our boots won’t do us any good for gripping. Because my arm is not long enough, I couldn’t reach to the top right away. I found a tiny tiny bump from a little stone that stuck out. I grabbed it firmly with my fingers and used it as an anchor pull my body up. This technique is just like rock climbing.


This is called a “no name” hole because there was no evidence of explorers who were able to climb out of this big hole to the upper level. The challenging part is the rocks were separated widely at the bottom and narrow on the top. Unless if you can climb cliff-hanger style, the only way to climb up is doing a split. Keep in mind though cave walls are usually damp and moist. For this one, shorter people need to be more limber and have stronger upper body to climb up.


Tall body frame.


He made it look so easy.


She’s smaller but taller than me.


She overstretched her leg and was in pain. I remember the audio expression from her when I took this shot. She’s not used to stretching her leg that far out. In my case, I needed to stretch wider. My arms couldn’t reach/rest at the top of the rock to create an anchor. I had to figure a way around to pull my body up. It’s not that hard and glad that Yoga helped. wink emoticon


She struggled to lift her left leg up to the next higher point. Lack of upper body strength and flexibility made this more challenging for her. Luckily, her body frame is longer.


Repositioned her body.


More repositioning…


Few more repositioning…


Finally, after a few moves she made it. We gave her a round applause!


We passed through Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. I asked, “how many National Park is within this cave?” It cracked a good laugh.


Cave Formation


Cave Formation


Notice that only 8 people made it out of the cave. smile emoticon We’re the true champion!