Day 39 – July 5
Mammoth Cave National Park
72 Rain, 90% Humidity, Sun at Noon Then More Rain
Staying another day, hope to wait rain out. Will take a different tour of the cave a little later today. Met Charles and Sandy, from Georgia, in the campsite last night. Had a lovely conversation and cup of coffee in their RV. My tent and bedding is becoming moist, not from the rain, but my own sweat and breath. Only sunshine can fix that.
Went on second tour this afternoon to a different part of the cave. Had to walk down a couple of hundred steps through a wet sinkhole until reaching an old dry river bed. In actuality you are not walking on the old river bed, but the remains of the roof above the original bed. When the water disappeared weak and loosened rocks fell from the walls and ceiling, covering the bed. What you see as you walk through are ragged and jagged rocks of all sizes. You do not see swirls and curved rock formations where water worked its way through.
Unlike yesterday’s tour, this part of the cave system does have stalactites and stalagmites. They occur where surface water penetrates the protective sandstone layer above the limestone. Drips and time do the rest.
While I have no desire to explore the cave by wedging myself through narrow openings and straddling bottomless crevices (something you can do with an experienced guide) I was a bit bored walking single file in semidarkness with 100 people, not being able to hear the Ranger. At one stop the Ranger said something I hadn’t considered. In the winter they give the same tours and sometimes as few as 5 or 6 people are in the group. Now that would be fun and informative.
After the tour I walked back to my campsite to wipe off the tent and the bike. I was hoping the sunny afternoon had dried everything out. For the most part, it did. After wiping down Ruby (it had been splattered by the rain even though I had a cover over her) I was putting the cover back on when I tugged on the back end. I heard a snap. Sure enough, I broke the righthand (the newest) mirror. It was hanging by a thread. I unscrewed it from the bike and carried it down to the Ranger checkin station. I asked if they had any tape. Of course they did. The Ranger and I wrapped clear packing tape around it. A solid on-the-fly fix. I’ll know tomorrow if it holds.
Last observation: sitting in the Mammoth Cave Information Center is like being at the United Nations. Every continent and subcontinent is represented, uncountable nationalities. Languages flow freely. Everybody is producing kids. It’s the new GDP.