Mammoth Cave National Park

Our group of about 30 walked to the 'Historic Entrance' of Mammoth Cave.

Our group of about 30 walked to the 'Historic Entrance' of Mammoth Cave.

[Originally published on January 27, 2010]

I returned, last week, from a remarkable trip to Kentucky, where I stayed with a brilliant, loving, and handsome man, who I love with certainty and beyond all words. While there, we visited, Mammoth Cave National Park, on a clear, crisp sunny morning.

Click on any photo in the gallery below for a slideshow — and click on the right side of the pop-up to proceed to the next shot.

The mid-January sun was clear and bright, and the air was cold and clean.

The mid-January sun was clear and bright, and the air was cold and clean.

Our Ranger explaining the path, and warning everyone about the strenuous nature of the trek.

Our Ranger explaining the path, and warning everyone about the strenuous nature of the trek.

Our group of about 30 walked to the 'Historic Entrance' of Mammoth Cave.

Our group of about 30 walked to the 'Historic Entrance' of Mammoth Cave.

Mammoth Cave National Park, and Kentucky in general, was truly beautiful, even in midwinter.

Mammoth Cave National Park, and Kentucky in general, was truly beautiful, even in midwinter.

Stark, winter beauty.

Stark, winter beauty.

Taking photographs inside the cave system was virtually impossible without flash, though long exposures seemed to work in some cases. Taking flash photos would have rendered most shots flatly, and frankly would not have been the way one naturally sees the cave. Here, we were inside the large 'rotunda,' at least fifty feet tall from floor to ceiling. This part of the cave system was dubbed 'the mammoth cave' by an early journalist. You can see the Ranger Guide on the lower left of the snapshot.

Taking photographs inside the cave system was virtually impossible without flash, though long exposures seemed to work in some cases. Taking flash photos would have rendered most shots flatly, and frankly would not have been the way one naturally sees the cave. Here, we were inside the large 'rotunda,' at least fifty feet tall from floor to ceiling. This part of the cave system was dubbed 'the mammoth cave' by an early journalist. You can see the Ranger Guide on the lower left of the snapshot.

The caves were initially used for saltpeter excavation during the War of 1812. Some artifacts remain from that use.

The caves were initially used for saltpeter excavation during the War of 1812. Some artifacts remain from that use.

Examples of candle-writing on the low parts of the cave ceilings, where early adventurers would burn their names with candles into the rock. The earliest graffiti we could see was from 1822.

Examples of candle-writing on the low parts of the cave ceilings, where early adventurers would burn their names with candles into the rock. The earliest graffiti we could see was from 1822.

In the part of the cave traditionally called, 'Fat Man's Misery,' just prior to the section called 'Tall Man's Agony.' Yes, I was feeling pretty happy in this photo.. My sweetheart was taking it.

In the part of the cave traditionally called, 'Fat Man's Misery,' just prior to the section called 'Tall Man's Agony.' Yes, I was feeling pretty happy in this photo.. My sweetheart was taking it.

An example of the only water-soluble, mineral deposit in this part of the cave system. The interiors of the caves were a comfortable 50 degrees or so, and the air was often quite heavy with humidity from the ground-water drips.

An example of the only water-soluble, mineral deposit in this part of the cave system. The interiors of the caves were a comfortable 50 degrees or so, and the air was often quite heavy with humidity from the ground-water drips.

Emerging from the cave system, the air was shockingly colder at the entrance and outside, than inside the cave itself. I thought quite often of Orpheus following Eurydice, for some reason, while in the caves.

Emerging from the cave system, the air was shockingly colder at the entrance and outside, than inside the cave itself. I thought quite often of Orpheus following Eurydice, for some reason, while in the caves.

Cold, beautiful, blue skies greeted us as we exited the caves.

Cold, beautiful, blue skies greeted us as we exited the caves.

The drive into and out of the park was just as spectacular as the caves themselves.

The drive into and out of the park was just as spectacular as the caves themselves.

Heading home, we spotted another traveler -- No, they were not going into the Pilot Station.

Heading home, we spotted another traveler -- No, they were not going into the Pilot Station.

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