This series, Notes from the Trail, focuses on thoughts and events that happen with the interactions in nature.
Cave-in-Rock State Park
One of the great rivers of the East flows below me, the Ohio. Its muddy waters ripple with a slight breeze from the south. Waves go against the current and give the impression of the river flowing backwards. White clouds loom overhead. They appear to have been painted by a master artist against a pale blue sky. These puffs of whiteness give the river a dual color. One being a dull lifeless gray, and the other a sparkling golden hue.
The view of this vast expanse resides atop a high limestone bluff at Cave in Rock State Park. I had decided to listen to my own advice and visit this area mentioned in the Top 3 Gottados: Southern Illinois Cave Shelters post.
The previous visit was several years ago when flood waters covered the concrete trail below the bluff. Thoughts of turning around entered our minds, but soon a couple came around the corner from the cave entrance and indicated that it was clear. The water was only 4-6 inches deep so we freed our feet from our socks and shoes and took a hike threw the waters of the Ohio.
Today, the river is well below the trail. It occurred to me while writing the before mentioned Top 3, that I did not have a decent photo of this area. I have come now to scope this park from a photographic point of view. I had the knowledge that the light would be less than idea, but still I could look for angles and perspectives that could be used when the conditions were right.
Initially, there were several cars parked along side the road. I had gambled on an early summer morning hoping to have a little time with the cave alone. Parking near Shelter 3, I took the right hand staircase and headed down. A group 0f 10-12 people were walking up the trail on there way out. There was a good possibility now of using my camcorder to try to capture this area .
As I continued, the first thing that grabbed my attention was the huge slabs of rock. The weathered rock had a cold gray color that rose in jagged creases towards the sky. I felt its lifeless texture and was pleased to be in its presence. These limestone bluffs have a different makeup than the limestone on the other side of the state near the Mississippi River. The limestone at La-Rue Pine Hills Ecological Area has a reddish hue and is loosely plastered together. I was fascinated by the contrast.
I crossed a bridge and walked a short distance on a concrete path. The sight around the bend floored me once again. I had forgotten that the entrance to the cave was hidden until one is almost upon on it. There it was like a large gaping mouth ready to devour the Ohio River. Gazing up and looking side to side I took photos, but failed to capture the caves vastness.
A long single person track led from the mouth toward the back. The sides were terraced and moist from the dampness of the cave. The air temperature cooled slightly inside giving some relief from the summer heat. A shaft of light could be seen coming from above near the back of the chamber. A hole appeared in the roof of the cave forcing one to look up towards the daylight. Anyone standing in thelight glowed. It appeared as though one had entered a natural stage and the spotlight rested upon you.
As I retreated from the light, the sound of shoes squishing in mud reverberated off the walls while I sloshed forward to explore the rest of the area. A child above uses the hole as a megaphone, crying hellos and asking if anyone is down there. I laughed and chosed not to invoke monster or ghost sounds in response.
I took the time to film the unique wonder nestled in the bluff. I rested my tripod precariously on the sides of the terrace as I filmed and then repositioned the camcorder for the next shot. Altogether, I took five different angles and enjoyed the process of filming solo.
At that moment, the cave seemed to be there just for me, but I knew it had existed long before and will exist long after. I spent over 30 minutes photographing and recording before the sound of crunching gravel broke my concentration. A family of four entered and pleasantries were exchanged. I left knowing that it was now there time to take away there own memories of Cave In Rock.
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