Cave No. 4—We Got Out Alive
Wind Cave was our fourth and final cave of the trip. In case you have forgotten, our other caves were:
* Font de Gaume, Les Eyzies, France
* Skocjan Caves, Slovenia
* Mammoth Cave, Cave City, Kentucky
Located a few hours’ drive away from the Badlands, Wind Cave is the fourth-largest cave system in the world. It is most famous for its boxwork.
The cave used to be owned by a family called McDonald. They hoped to mine the cave, but when they couldn’t find anything mineable, they started giving tours.
Their son, Alvin McDonald, gave most of the tours. He was obsessed with the cave. Once, when he was giving a tour, he found a new passageway, and he left his tour to go explore. The group was down there overnight, in the total darkness. Luckily, Alvin remembered they were down there and went back.
We took the Candlelight Tour, which is the kind of tour they used to give in the olden days, before there was electricity. Our tour was led by “Ranger Max.”
You hold a bucket, in which there is a candle. The bucket spreads the light from the candle out, like a flashlight. For about half of the tour, you are using only the candles to see. On parts of the tour, you might take one wrong step and fall into an abyss. You get to see lots of boxwork, and you also get to experience total blackness like the kind Alvin McDonald left that tour in, in the exact same spot.
Fortunately, we all made it out alive, although there is a rather nasty bruise on my knee. No one got lost, and we didn’t have to resort to cannibalism. Yet.