Reverend Janglebones’ Soapbox: The Caves of Kentucky

Let’s face it, real adventure is hard to find in the modern world. We shoot at each other with imaginary guns across Wifi connections and across real-life grassy knolls with paintballs.  Some of us enjoy the rush that performing can bring, or driving fast, or urban exploring, or athletics. Some of us pay good money to be thrown out of perfectly operational aircraft.

How often, though, do you get to immerse yourself in a world entirely alien? A world forgotten by society, scattered with strangely shaped rocks and formations in every direction. Full of fascinating creatures unseen on the surface like cave crickets, albino crawdads and one of the most adorable insect eaters on the planet; Bats.

Someone exploring a cave in Mount Vernon, Kentucky | Youtube

How often do you get to discover underground streams of deep green flowing water by only the light of the lamp on your helmet as you squeeze between a crack in the world? How often do you approach a mysterious roaring in the distant darkness which grows until you’re standing at the foot of a subterranean waterfall?

I’m talking about real adventure and exploration, here. I’m talking about the wild caves of the great State of Kentucky. Massive limestone deposits and steep hills are just the recipe for all kinds of karst activity. There are over 300 known caves in Rockcastle County alone, in fact. Some of which are rather small. Some are anything but.

These are not your tourist attraction caves found just off of the exits to major interstates. There are no guard rails. There are no employees. Or lights, other than the one primary and one backup you brought with you, plus the light of your companions’ lamps, because the rule is: Never cave alone.

Pine Hill Cave in Mount Vernon, Kentucky being explored by Mike, Noburo, Danyele, Tim, Kevin and Chris in June 2013.

A friend dragged me along a few months back and I was first amazed, then terrified, then absolutely giddy.

Darryl Marsh (Insta:@darrylthecaver) is something of an expert around those parts. He spends most weekends volunteering down at the Great Saltpetre Preserve leading Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts as well as groups of adults and college students into unseen and mysterious spaces.

You can contact Darryl on the facebook page for Wild Cave Adventures or contact the Dayton Underground Grotto for a very reasonable membership fee of $5 per year.

You can also get in touch with your local Grotto, which is essentially a club for cavers, and for a very small fee you can have access to resources, friendships and activities. In Dayton, contact the Dayton Underground Grotto, or DUG, and they will be thrilled to hear from you.

Aside from the incredible experiences I have had caving in Kentucky, I have also made some incredible friendships. There are Grottos and students from around the state that run into each other down there at the caves all the time and there’s even a festival or two each year.

So if you’re wanting to help the planet picking up garbage, get away from the stresses of the unrelenting everyday or just got plum sick of Kings Island, there is a hole in the ground that always needs filled by willing and adventurous souls.

Brian Yoder

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