Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20, 2014 - Lost Cove Cave, Tennessee

Today was another adventure organized by our favorite Park Ranger- Park Greer. Our quest was to hike to and then explore Lost Cove Cave. We met in the parking area then followed the path to the Buggytop entrance. Along for the trip- all five of us and three friends as well as a total stranger- Leslie and Ranger Park himself.

Park points out our intended path through the cave

Red eft stage of the Eastern newt

The Buggytop entrance is also where Lost Creek flows into the cove and is about 100' wide and 80' tall. This is the single most impressive cave opening I've ever seen that didn't have a lighted path and handrails to lead you into. This is the kind of cave that you see dragons flying out of.

Looking into Buggytop entrance

From just inside the cave looking out

Second entrance from inside the cave

Dave points out some markings on the wall

Park did this cool thing about a quarter of the way through the cave: he stopped leading and let us figure out which way to go based on the map. The map reminded me of something I would have drawn 20 years ago for a Dungeon and Dragons campaign. All it needed was a few treasure chests and symbols to indicate the patrol route of the goblins and the throne of the orc king...

Park and Ben making sand castles on the shore of the creek. Yes. Sand castles. In a cave.

Found in the cave: Eastern mud salamander 
We climbed over rock piles (breakdowns), splashed through the creek, slid on the mud and wedged ourselves through a couple of narrow passages. The plan was to exit at  the Peter Cave entrance. To get there we had to scramble up rock for a few hundred feet. We paused halfway up the breakdown to talk with Park.

Park talking about how he became a Park Ranger. IN A CAVE.

Peters Cave entrance- our way out.

Hiking back to the parking area along the rim of the cove
We saw spiders, albino cave crawdads, a bat, and non-photosynthesizing algae. Other than being a little muddy we came out mostly unscathed- except Esther who twisted her ankle on the trail. (Doctor confirmed it's a sprain and not a break and she's healing up.) 

Esther did a great job of getting many different pictures that I did not and you can see her blog entry here.

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