along the path
I found the moments
An unearthed prehistoric stonewall some six feet high, built of rocks of
various sizes, is evidence that the cave was likely inhabited by aboriginal
people. It is unknown when the first settler entered Morril’s Cave, although it
has been written that settlers surely would have encountered the cave by the
beginning of the 1800’s. Nothing is known of the cave until it became the
property of Elias S. Worley. Locally, the cavern is often still referred to as
Worley Cave. A large amount of saltpeter was mined from the cave early in the
Civil War. A mill was operated in the early 1900’s where the stream exits at
the lower entrance of the cave. It was said that the stream’s volume was
“sufficient, even in severest drought, to turn the undershot wheel of a
Our journey begins on a very hot day, where the temperature outside the
cave is in the mid 90’s, however, inside the cave the temperature will stay all
year round at about 57 degrees. One of the first things we discover as we
proceed further into the cave are the beautiful rock formations and the
cloudburst that greets us as the contrasting air molecules meet and merge. There
are moments of intrepidity and excitement as we approach the day’s first big
challenge i.e. the 30 foot crawl between two rock formations. Not everyone was
willing to do it, however I jumped at the opportunity—or should I say crawled.
I love a physical challenge and the cave provided many opportunties. During the
course of our 3.5 hour journey we crawled, tunneled, climbed, waded through
water, descended and ascended nearly 180 feet while hiking 1.5 miles. We also
sat in absolute darkness. Sitting in absolute darkness with only the slight
sound of water drops was fascinating. It was quite the meditative moment. Our guide
informed us, that if you remained in this kind of darkness for 72 hours you
would become completely disoriented. After being in this kind of sensory
deprived environment for such a long time one would soon begin to hallucinate.
However, I must say that if you are a practitioner of meditation this is the
perfect setting for deep contemplation.
It was an enjoyable day for all of us on the tour. And if you are
physically able and daring, I highly recommend you try this. What do you think?
Does this sound like something you would do? Are there other challenges or
activities that you would like to conquer?
Our natural resources can provide the excitement and challenges that can
sustain the mind, body and Spirit. Go Out and See.
Morril’s Cave (Worley’s Cave) is a class II natural-scientific state natural area located in Sullivan County Tennessee. It has more than 37,000 feet of mapped passages. Morril’s Cave is commonly called Worley’s Cave locally and is known for its voluminous size with rooms more than 75 feet wide and 250 feet long with high ceilings that often exceed 100 feet. It is known for its beautiful formations within its eight to ten miles of passages. The lower level of the cave contains a perennial creek filled complete with various fish, white crayfish, and salamanders.
Earth and River Adventures located in Boone, North Carolina provided us with an excellent guide named Andy. Here he is at the beginning of our journey giving instructions on safety and caving etiquette.
A moment of contemplation for me, as our group of six participants prepare for the journey into absolute darkness.
Up next in the following post the trek begins….