THE CIRCLE TRIP
From the Junction Room a counter clockwise course is followed, past many side and overhead openings, to the Curtain Room. Here delicately folded flowstone descends. from the ceiling in the form of draperies. A few feet farther along, the narrow, sinuous trail opens into a sizeable chamber called the Organ Room. In this room a huge cascade of flowstone twenty feet high terminates in a magnificent bank of curving, double-edged stalactites which resemble a giant pipe organ. Leading from this chamber there are several alcoves, partly separated by thin, window-rock partitions. The alcoves are partly filled with clay and gravel; remnants of which are common in the main passage. Narrow, fissure-like openings and tubular passages radiate out in various directions from this section, some of which make complete loops. Huge blocks of fallen marble occupy much floor space in this and succeeding rooms.
A series of blade-like window rocks separates the Organ Room from the Dome Room. The dome is a huge block of fallen marble capped by a thick layer of flowstone which resembles frosting poured over a mammoth cake. In general, the entire formation is shaped like a shoe, near the toe of which there are several miniature lakes with delicately beaded shores. Here are some of the most fragile and attractive stalactites in the cave. On the instep of the Dome, there are several stalagmites resembling totem poles. The Dome is situated directly under a major crack in the marble from which water is constantly dripping to form a thin film of water over the Dome, on the inner side of which thin strips of draperies resembling huge slices of bacon are forming beside curved, double-edge stalactites. The dripstone throughout the cave is a cream-white or ivory color of various shades. The ceiling in this room has a weird assortment of marble remnants and an intricate pattern of small, rounded channels incised upward into the marble. Some of these are filled tightly with stream-deposited sand and gravel. A delicate slope of glittering, frostlike, white crystals is a major attraction in this room. The deep, inverted potholes in the ceiling are of special interest.
The trail from the Dome Room leads upward through a narrow passage called Fat Man's Misery, and finally descends into the largest room in the cave known as Marble Hall. There is a maze of connecting passages along this route, some of which are complete circles, and practically all of them connect with Marble Hall. This big room roughly is 54 feet wide, 43 feet high, and 141 feet long. The high point on the trail near this room is about 60 feet higher than the entrance. Huge blocks of collapsed marble partially fill this large room. From high ledges massive banks of flowstone are terminated in a weird assortment of stalactites and draperies. Some of the ledges have broken off and lie inverted with the broken stalactites pointing upward. Other large blocks have slumped, as indicated by stalagmites pointing obliquely upward. There are huge remnants of marble suspended from the ceiling by narrow necks or extending out from high alcoves and side chambers, that contribute to the gnome-like atmosphere. Here the lights usually are turned off to demonstrate the natural darkness of the cave. There are excellent deposits of bedded clays in the alcoves adjoining this room, and many remnants of the gravel on high levels, to suggest how completely the cave was filled in times past.
After traversing Marble Hall, the trail leads through a short, artificial tunnel to connect with a narrow fissure along a fault zone where the marble formation has parted and slumped along a steeply inclined plane to the right. One can see upward over this inclined slope more than one hundred feet.
Near the lower end of the winding trail, a large overhead balcony of extreme beauty is viewed from a landing. The walls of this balcony are almost completely covered with a thick coating of cascading flowstone. This probably is the most scenic alcove in the cave. From this point it is about one hundred feet to the junction, from which point the trail is retraced to the entrance.
It is impossible to describe more than a few features of the cave. The pattern is so complex and there are so many thousands of features that one can see only a few of the more outstanding ones in a single trip.
Last Updated: 31-Jan-2007