Do you like the idea of exploring a cave?
Exploring a cave is called caving or spelunking. Last year, my parents and I made a trip to do some caving in upstate New York at Howe Caverns. It is a large limestone cave that was carved by an underground river over the course of millions of years. It is 156 feet below the earth’s surface, so it gets really cold. Also it makes it feel more like something bad is going to happen, and that can give you a chill up your spine — if it wasn’t chilly enough (that’s a joke, by the way).
To explore the cave, you take an elevator and travel down the equivalent of 15 floors of a city high rise building.
Howe Caverns was discovered in 1842 by a Schoharie County farmer named Lester Howe, and that’s where the cave got its name. The legend has it that Lester noticed on hot summer days that his cows liked to gather near some bushes at the bottom of a hill on his neighbor’s property. He decided to take a closer look, and behind the bushes, he found a cool breeze coming from a hole in the earth. Howe and his neighbor Henry Wetsel started to dig out and explore the cave. The cave is always 52 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of the temperature above ground.
While exploring the cave, I thought it felt ominous. Probably because it was cold and dark and the lanterns and flash lights were dim. But it felt like an adventure to get cave kisses. Cave kisses are drips of water that fall from the cave and land on you. Every cave kiss you get, it is told, gives you one extra year of life.
At Howe Caverns, you can go on a 90-minute guided tour and see all of its prettiest features and spots. In the cave, you see interesting mineral deposits called stalactites and stalagmites. Stalactites form on the ceilings of caves, while stalagmites are found on the ground. One part of the tour has a short boat ride, which is a lot of fun.
Pamela Ginex’s Cub Scouts, Troop 168, Syosset