Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Jewel Cave

Our second day in South Dakota was looking a little rainy, and people were tired, so we decided to hit Jewel Cave. We'd looked at it Tuesday, but they said we needed to be there early. So we got everyone up, drove to get tickets, and then went back to the grocery store for breakfast and coffee. We also changed shoes for Delaney and I.

I have to admit I wasn't thrilled with the idea of going underground. I get a little claustraphobic, but I went along. We chose the strenuous "lantern tour, and arrived a few minutes early.

 Everyone waited for our group, which was about 16 or so people with a guide.

 We started in an old ranger house. Apparently this was where the tours were first run decades ago. We saw this is the 3rd longest cave in the world, at 177 miles explored.

 We got an oil lantern for Delaney.

 Kyle got the LED one, and we were ready to light the way for our group.

Kendall gave me a pose, and we were off.

We walked around the hill and down a path about 50 feet below the ranger house. So far, so good.

 The cave is kept locked, and we had to wait for it to open and then get locked behind us.

We walked through a few open areas, transitioning in smaller areas. We moved through the cave, which was low at points. People were in a line and some stopped to take pictures, which was tough. Getting stopped in the area below wasn't good for me.

 Delaney loved it, and handled the stairs, low ceilings, and more just fine.

 I think everyone thought it was neat. It's not as colorful as Luray, but it was interesting.

There was a natural amphitheater near the bottom of our tour, about 150ft underground. I was nervous, but took a picture.

I also got a better show of one of the staircases.

Afterwards we got out and Delaney went into a cave outside of the main one that was open. He disappeared in a small space and Kendall waited.

She kept calling to him so we knew he was alright. He eventually came out.

 Full of smiles and mud.

 They guide talked about an advanced tour that is available some days, and for 16 and up. He sent us back to the main visitor center as there was an area that mimics what you have to crawl through.

 Delaney went right through it.

Tia got stuck

 As did Kendall

I didn't try, since I wouldn't want to go in there.

All in all, a very cool morning for us.

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