Monday, July 15, 2013

Cathedral Caverns

So yesterday, took a trip to Cathedral Caverns out in Woodville, Alabama. I'd never actually been in a cave before (not like they're common in Ohio)... so I was honestly looking forward to the trip. I figured there were multiple caves (since the park has caverns as plural), and that we'd just be exploring one with a flashlight. Figured there'd might be some wildlife/flora/fauna of some sort, but other than the reptiles we came across near the gift shop, I would learn that not too much lives in a cave. Especially not a cave with a man-made trail and a tour guide.

I want to make a disclaimer here before we get too much further: All of my photos were shot handheld at 75mm, 1/80, and 6400 ISO. Out of 200 pics, only a small handful were clear enough to post. It definitely was a challenge. I'd tried full automatic settings, but my flash would not work, and during the tour, we never stopped long enough for me to toy around with it and figure it out.

Anyways, the tour starts at 3:15 P.M. Our tour guide is named Taylor, and is a young guy, probably late 20's, early 30's, shorter than me, with a great sense of humor. Right off the bat, he has the group chuckling at his one-liners.

Once he explains general information about the cave, we move on to the next "room". The path is lit with small lights- reminiscent of a movie theater. The concrete path is also steep (either up or down) in places, and I wore shoes with no traction. Pair that with the trails being wet, and I start having bad visions of face-planting and my camera taking the brunt. But that doesn't happen, luckily.

Nothing super special in the first "room"/section. It was pretty dark. However it led to a small tunnel that went into a second room. This part was a little trippy, with reflection pools on either side of the trail. If anybody knows me, they know that I like to keep both feet firmly on the ground. In other words, I'm scared of heights. The reflection pool to the right was definitely the worst. Even though I knew it was there... I still couldn't shake the feeling that everything beside me just dropped down into a dark abyss.

We couldn't move out of this room fast enough.

The next section was short, and included some smooth rock (I forget the scientific name for it) that they had coined "The Rock Waterfall". Being that I was shooting at 75mm, I could not back up far enough to get a decent shot without it turning out too blurry. Taylor explained how the rock waterfall came to be, and we moved onto the next section.

Now here's where we start seeing stalagmites. If you don't know what stalagmites are, they look a little bit like this:

Throughout the next three sections (until the end of the path), we would see all sorts of these stalagmites. Taylor would laser point to different parts that looked like various things... most specifically; a caveman, a turkey, and a skull.

Here are a couple more photos of the next sections:

Once we reach the very end of the trail, Taylor asks the group if we'd like to see what it's like to be in a cave without all the fancy lighting. The group gives an enthusiastic "yes". He shuts off all lighting and it looks like this:

(Bet you were expecting something awesome, weren't you?)

Once it's pitch black and everyone stops with the oohs and aahs, Taylor pulls out his laser pointer and proceeds to do a mini-light show, but not without asking if anybody was prone to seizures first.

We'd walked 2/3 of a mile back into this cave, and once the tour is over, you have to walk back out. The way in has a lot of steep downhill grades, and let me tell you, the walk back out was no picnic. Mostly uphill, and my thighs were burning by the time we were back to the first section. Once we hit it, I felt major relief. 

We all had a great time (minus my sister, but she has a knack for whining) at the caverns. The only negative I could really say about it, other than the workout it gives you (seriously, was not expecting it), was the price: $15 per adult. However, it was educational and just plain neat. Found out you can explore the cave on your own, minus a guide, and may come back out eventually to do just that. 

No birds to report (obviously). :)

Next post should be about my long-awaited trip to the sinkholes (The Sinks), so look out for that in the next 4-5 days.

Until next time...
Happy birding (and cave-exploring) to all of you!


  1. Great report! Really like the photos!

  2. Thanks! I really wanted to shoot without flash to give people the real feel of the lighting and what I saw as I walked through.