While visiting family in West Virginia I had a few hours to take my two older boys caving while our youngest napped. Before we left, I provided my wife Sandy with our location, time we expected to be out, and what to do and who to call should she not hear from us by the prearranged time.
My older son, Dawson, was really anxious to go, my middle son, Dylan, was a bit more timid and wanted to go I think more out of not wanting to miss out on anything (see the cave report about Island Ford Cave). I opted for Haynes cave in Monroe County; it is close to Lewisburg and is a very easy cave to access and to actually cave.
The shortest and easiest way to get to the cave is to cut across a large pasture. The boys were not to keen to walk in the field with the cows. With the cow’s quizative look, standing their ground, and the pure size my boys felt more comfortable walking along the outside of the fence.
Not sure how Dylan would adapt to the dark environment I brought my u/w cave light to brighten things up a bit. The light exposed every dark spot in the cave; as a side note I need to bring this light to some of the caves with larger rooms, as it penetrates into the void with ease. Haynes cave doesn’t have much climbing, and what is does is very simple to climb. Dawson was really into it; Dylan was holding his own very well, so well I stopped using my u/w light and switched to a headlamp.
The cave was a dry as I remember resulting in significant amounts of dust in the air just from walking through. It didn’t help that Dawson and Dylan found the fine dirt on the ground to be very soft and soothing to the touch; much of their idle time was spent picking up handfuls of dirt and playing with it. It wasn’t long before all their close were a light shade of brown; my only hope was it would brush off easily, otherwise I’m sure my wife would have a word or two with me.
Walking through the cave we talked about how water carved the cave passages at one time and talked about how old the cave was. It wasn’t long before the kids thought dinosaurs walked and lived in the cave. There isn’t many formations, but of the few found we talked about how water made them (I think that might have been a difficult thing for them to believe or fully understand). But they were quick to point of the graffiti, or hieroglyphs as my older son called them, in the cave; that they could relate to.
We stopped and signed the registry on the way in; they each signed their names proudly. Dawson and Dylan found the idea of a registry a bit puzzling at first; but quickly warmed to the idea was we spent some time looking through the past entrants to the cave and that the next people to sign the registry would know that we were there.
We found a few brown bats; Dawson was very excited, as he knows a lot about bats. But he had not seen a real bat, and certainly not a bat in its natural habitat. We were lucky to find one bat near eye level; keeping a courteous distance they could see how the bat was hanging from its feet. We also
We walked the upper level all the way back to the end; a few of the pits were interesting to get around. The boys wanted to use the wooden walkways that have been there for many of years; and they probably safely could use them given their lack of weight. However I chose not to chance it and made them walk around or crawl into and out of the shallow pits. As we retreated we checked out one side lead before heading into the lower level (not the level at the bottom of the pit).
We did find the “well” that is used to get to the lowest level of the cave. There is an old hand crank used to pull buckets of Saltpeter from the lower depths of the cave during the civil war days. The boys were fascinated with the concept and wanted to go get a bucket and rope to see it actually work.
Time past too quickly, and with both of the boys enjoying themselves we lost track of time, I really did not expect our tour to last as long as it had. We have to leave the cave as the time I told Sandy to call in a rescue team should she not hear from me was quickly approaching.
And yes the dusty clothes cleaned up very nicely!