Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 48

group of adventurers in
southeastern West Virginia
to slip through Organ's
15-foot yawn, entering a
mysterious world where
sounds reverberate off stone
walls and the air smells like
moldy potatoes. The cave
stays wine-cellar cool (50s)
and has the acoustics of a
squat cathedral.
We switched on our
headlamps and said goodbye
to the fiery hues of
autumn leaves, the call of
mourning doves, the scent
of pine. Down here where
nothing much changes for
centuries, we found our
beauty in narrower band of
the sensory range, in sparkling
water droplets and
petrified mud. Our fellow
creatures were sleeping bats,
slime molds, blind salamanders
and calcite formations
resembling gnomes.
Along Organ's main
Wild caving (above) means
Su Clauson-Wicker (left) gears
up for sliding and crawling.
COURT & MARKET DAYS,
MAY 30.
Programs including music,
children's activities, dancing,
demonstrations and more
recreate the mid-1860s. Court
Square, Harrisonburg.
540-879-2616.
MOUNTAIN FOLIAGE
FESTIVAL, OCT. 10.
Test your running ability in a
new way: racing an outhouse
down the road in this festival's
Grand Privy Race. Also enjoy
arts and crafts, a parade and the
colors of the season.
Independence.
276-773-3661.
GOING WILD AT
ORGAN CAVE
Walking the lighted walkways
of a commercial cavern
might seem eerie, but wild
caving through musty passages
seldom probed by
humans is an alien, off-thebeaten-path
thing to do -
the kind I seek out. In 25
years of travel writing, I've
found some of my favorite
stories by acting rather than
observing, digging deeper
into the experience than the
average tourist. Donning a
head lamp to explore Organ
Cave's dark sections was
right up my alley.
So on a fall morning, I
joined two guides and a
48 | BlueRidgeCountry.com
walkway, we encountered
mannequins dressed as the
Confederate soldiers.
During the Civil War, more
than 1,000 men under Gen.
Robert E. Lee mined saltpeter,
and 37 wooden hoppers
remain.
But that's the lighted
commercial tour - the one
where you walk on cement
pathways and stand upright.
We veered off down the first
dark canyon, shuffling over
loose rocks. A layer of moist
silt made every surface seem
rubbed in soap - great for
squeezing through a tight
chamber called Drag Strip,
but not so good for bouldering
over dumpster-sized
rocks.
Organ Cave is a multileveled
maze with switchback
tunnels and rooms
that drop away into darkness.
I braced against limestone
with my feet, hands,
shoulders, occasionally a
knee or my butt, just to stay
upright in a short climb. I
used every muscle group
climbing, crawling, twisting,
jumping and pulling
myself through the cave's
natural endurance course.
Would I feel this the next
day? You bet I did.
After hours of squeezing,
climbing and crawling; after
one silver curtain waterfall
and a small red river of ironrich
water, the expedition
rounded a bend and we saw
thin light filtering from the
cave entrance. At that point,
daylight was richer, more
golden, and more astonishingly
brilliant than anything
we'd ever seen.
WANT TO GO?
Organ Cave's wild tours last
from two hours to an 18-hour
overnight and cost $55 - $300.
The outfitters provide helmets,
lights, batteries, gloves and
kneepads. For reservations, call
304-645-7600 in Ronceverte,
W.Va. or see organcave.com
Lost World Caverns
(Lewisburg, W.Va.), Raccoon
Mountain Caverns
(Chattanooga, Tenn.), Natural
Tunnel State Park (Duffield,
Va.) and Lost Sea Cavern
(Sweetwater, Tenn.) also offer
wild caving tours.
Sleep Nearby: If you're not overnighting
in the cave, consider
Willow Bend Bed & Breakfast
on Buster Brown Rd near Union,
(304) 772-3454 yoorlife.com/wb
Kalico Kitchen is a family style
restaurant with country cooking,
fresh salads, breads, and desserts.
Specialty is good home cooking.
Open seven days a week with
something for everyone.
-Su Clauson-Wicker
http://www.organcave.com http://www.yoorlife.com/wb http://www.BlueRidgeCountry.com

Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015

Letters
From the Editor & Digital Help Guide
Mill Creek Stories
Creature Feature
The Hike
Great Buys
Mountain Report
Country Roads
Creature Feature
Festivals & Events
The Curios: Our Annual Compendium of the Strange
North Georgia: A Foodie Haven
Why We Travel: The Photoessay
The 2015 Blue Ridge Country Travel Guide: A Year of Experiences
The Weekend: Harpers Ferry and Western Maryland
The Old Stone Chimney
Cabin in the Woods: Fiddler’s Roost
Mountain Garden
Guest Column: Author Stephanie Jeffries
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 2
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Letters
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - From the Editor & Digital Help Guide
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Great Buys
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Curios: Our Annual Compendium of the Strange
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - North Georgia: A Foodie Haven
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Why We Travel: The Photoessay
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The 2015 Blue Ridge Country Travel Guide: A Year of Experiences
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 48
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Weekend: Harpers Ferry and Western Maryland
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Old Stone Chimney
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cabin in the Woods: Fiddler’s Roost
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Mountain Garden
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Guest Column: Author Stephanie Jeffries
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cover4
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