As we snuggled up in the van we muddled over our trip to Mammoth Cave–the usual, which tour should we take, what was the best bargain? Still not completely decided, we arrived at Mammoth Cave National Park bright and early. Full of coffee, and feeling our oats definitely factored into the reason we made the decision we did. We were studying the board and listened to what a few of the park Rangers had to say about the different tours and settled on the The Grand Avenue Tour-Very Strenous (hmmm no problem we thought) , 700 stairs (really how bad could this be stretched out over 4 miles), and 4 hours long (how bad could this be if we pack snacks and water). The big advantage to this tour was it combined all the tours we wanted to go on for a very reasonable price. History and geography here we come!
Well I have to say we made the right decision. It was very strenuous and we lost one couple after the first mile-a mile in they have elevators for emergencies. The first mile was cake, the tour grew in intensity as we got further and further in. I had no time to think about claustrophobia, I was too busy trying to keep up. The 700 stairs were no joke, we went down stairs and then back up and back down. My legs were like jello and the grade was steep-but the caves were beautiful and the Rangers were very informative. When we finally made that last track up to the light of day –we had been underground for four and a half hours at this point-we saw one bus. We all looked like survivors-even the most athletic people on our little jaunt looked disheveled and sweaty. There were only about 18 of us on this bus and someone turned around and asked “Where is everyone else?” Those of us left just muttered “other bus” we were all weak and thirsty. We got off the bus and headed into the dining area and ate like we had been starved. Now you think this would have been enough for one day……nope…..I had the brilliant idea of seeing just one more cave, but that my friends is a story for another day.