Sunday, February 5, 2012

THE Trip, Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs, South Dakota

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

July 8, 2011. Our last day in the Custer area.  It will be hotter than hades, 94 real temps (give or take) and I caught 107 on Big Butt's rear view mirror thermostat after Big Butt had been parked for a while.  So, we decide to go visit some caves, where it will be considerably cooler (45 degrees in the caves).

According to the Wind Cave National Park web site, "Wind Cave was discovered by two brothers, Jesse and Tom Bingham. They heard a loud whistling noise, which led them to a small hole in the ground, the cave's only natural opening."

In the museum at the Visitors Center they have an old diary kept by Alvin McDonald.  Alvin was one of the first systematic explorers of the cave.  I was able to get a fairly decent photo of the diary, and then zoomed in on this tidbit, all my researching friends will surely enjoy this:

Our guide started our visit to the caves at that small hole that was the source of the whistling sound, the sound of discovery.  She explained to us how sometimes the wind blows out of this cave and sometimes air gets sucked into the cave.  It all has to do with barometric pressure.  The day we visited, we could feel the air blowing out of the cave, it was distinctly chilled.

Again, from the Wind Cave National Park's web presence we learn:

"The cave is one of the world's longest and most complex caves... known for its outstanding display of boxwork, an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs."

Here are a couple of photos I took of the boxwork, and, no, they do NOT do it justice.  Remember, I do not use flash in situations like this, nor do I carry a tripod, so, I capture what Sony can.  For the most part, boxwork hangs from the ceiling.

We had to do a bit of ducking:

Another take on the ducking, Man was on the other side:

Going down:

This photo is stunning, look at that huge slab of broken rock.  OK, this photo is underwhelming in this interpretation.  Those slabs were very long, and guessing, 6 to 12 inches thick.  Rather unnerving to look at that split, isn't it?  

A pool of water.

Our guide told us, and I cannot remember the exact numbers, that more of this cave has not been explored than has been.  What we were allowed to visit is just a very, very small portion of this huge cave system.  According to this page on their web site, 100 miles and 3000 chambers have been explored.

As with most caves Man and I have visited, this one was different, fascinating, and ya, cool!

Our visit to Wind Cave National Park would include a picnic lunch at the campground area and a lovely ride. A few more photos, coming soon.


Kathy Reed said...

I've never heard of "boxwork". When I look at the patterns I can't help but think of the beautiful backgrounds they would make for a collage!

Jan Kelpe said...

This is the first cave that I ever visited, and I think the best one in the Black Hills besides Jewel, that I remember, of couse partially because it is close to where I grew up. Since then we have visited many caves but this one remains distinct because of its formations. I guess they must let you take pictures now without flash. Those that you took are really good. You can't go to the Black Hills without a visit to the cave.

Karen said...

Neat boxwork - I've only been in one cave but it didn't have anything like that. That split rock must have been a little unnerving, since you all were *under* it! Awesome photos!

Malia Lane said...

I love to go in caves and I've been to several but have never even heard of boxwork - very cool!

Susan Clark said...

Fabulous! I just started visiting caves a couple years ago - and only those with guides and handrails. This looks marvelous. Bucket list!