The photo above shows me emerging from a cave during on of our spelunking expeditions, but before you read today’s blog, you might check out yesterday’s blog because I posted a new photo showing a bit of the train trestle and tunnel that I had written about. I was sure I had some pictures, but couldn’t find them, until I realized they were from old movies not photographs.
Now, today’s blog:
One of the most memorable of my caving experiences always comes to mind whenever I hear some reference to the 1972 movie “Deliverance” which is about some urban canoeists traveling to an extremely rural area populated by “Hillbillies” to run a wild river that was about to be flooded by a dam. The locals didn’t much like seeing these “city folks” in their area that ultimately led to trouble. The experience I had wasn’t as extreme as what happened in the movie, but with “Deliverance” in my mind, it was pretty upsetting.
On our caving trip, we set up camp in Burnside State Park in Southern Kentucky, then proceeded some distance down a highway before turning off and traveling down some dusty country road that took us further and further away from civilization. I am not sure how, whoever was directing us, ever heard about this cave in such an obscure place.
We stopped, unloaded the carbide caving hats, coveralls, and backpacks and other caving equipment before hiking to the cave which was just a small hole on a rocky slope. Into the dark, damp void we crawled, one after the other. I don’t remember anything special about the cave and after about four hours my wife, who was along, and I had had enough of the dark gloom of the cave and so turned around and crawled back out into the beautiful green, fresh-aired, world outside. The other spelunkers continued to explore the cave.
My wife and I, happy to be back outside, hung around, exploring the area between the cave and the van, which was parked on the edge of the gravel country road. As the two of us were looking around, I spotted a lanky rough country-looking local man walking down the road toward us toting a rifle.
Seeing the gun made us nervous. The man came over and started talking to us. We were friendly toward him and explained about the cavers inside and how they would be coming out any minute. We were both getting bad vibes about the guy as he talked to us. Then the hill country man started telling us about making corn liquor in his still, and that increased my anxiety. Making illegal moonshine was something I just didn’t want to hear anything about, but we continued to humor him, wishing he would go away.
After about a 30 minutes, the guy did finally leave and continued ambling down the road with his rifle on his shoulder. We were relieved, but remained nervous about him.
Eventually, Dan, my cousin came out of the cave. It was probably around 4:00 in the afternoon. He suggested that he would drive us back to Burnside State Park, drop us off and we could begin cooking supper while he returned back to the cave to pick up the other spelunkers.
On our trip back to the campsite we told Dan all about our visit with the gun-toting hillbilly. Dan dropped us off at our campsite, then immediately return to pick up the others.
At dusk, Dan returned with just one of the other cavers. He said he met Bob walking down the highway, and Bob didn’t know where the others were. He explained that when the others came out of the cave there was gunfire, and the group all hit the ground, then scattered in different directions.
Dan and Bob got back in the van and headed back to the cave site in hopes of finding the others. Joan and I remained at the camp, bewildered and anxious about what had happened to the other cavers.
It was dark when Dan returned and we were very relieved when we saw all of the remaining cavers climb out of the van. They had all eventually made it to the highway, where Dan picked them up. It was a hair-raising and certainly a memorable caving experience, but looking back all of the interesting things I remember all happened outside, not deep in the recesses of a cave.