The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
page 26 [contents] (< prev) (next >)
 vol. 40. iss. 1, December 2005
We discussed routes and settled on going to have a look at Yahoo Avenue. It was walking and crawling from there along Downey Avenue to Yahoo, and we took it at an ambling, not racing, pace, and that made all the difference. I was in a deeply-felt mood of awe and gratitude at being in this famous and spectacular place, and in no mood to rush. We saw big canyon, easing along past deep and shallow drops, did a 150-foot crawl on “soft, cushy, luxurious sand,” said Jim, and so it was – and then emerged into a walking cross passage: Yahoo Avenue one way, Currens Corridor the other.

Jim and Ben had changed carbide – Jim said, “I don’t want to do it back in there,” at which point I learned that Yahoo is closed due to caver impacts and that we had special permission from Dave Weller to view it. And then we began our world-class caving stroll down Yahoo Avenue. Why is it named Yahoo? Well, Jim said – and we soon saw for ourselves – that when he and others first found it on Sept 29th, 1978, they were inured to the small and tight and tortuous aspects of Roppel, but Yahoo just went on and on and became more and more spectacular – so that shouts of “Yahoo!” punctuated the trip.

Peggy, less awed and half my age, saw it this way:

Amazing. Thousands of feet of walking passage! We took pictures of each other as the passage’s morphology changed, admired cave pearls and wacky stalactites and stalagmites in drippy areas that totally resembled Hurricane Corner in Jewel Cave: manganese-covered popcorn, smeared with mud where the caver trail ran. Then there was the Shelelegan (?), a pair of stalactite-stalagmites that looked like they were made of drippy snot, stretching nearly floor to ceiling.

We left Jim here to take pictures, and Momba [that would be Hilary], Ben and I headed on down Yahoo Avenue.

Further ahead, the ceiling lowered a bit, and the walls became covered with large, elaborate gypsum flowers, tinged with black (manganese?). We took picture after picture, making our way towards the Rift, where Yahoo Avenue is intersected by a deep vertical shaft. Jim had said it was pretty much a straight shot, but eventually (after, like, an HOUR) we got confused and the passage got kinda complex, so we turned around and were relieved to run into Jim on the way back. Back at the Shelelegan, we stopped to eat lunch (my bean burrito was AWESOME), and then made our way towards the entrance, never in a hurry and barely tired. It was GREAT.”


click to enlarge

My deepest feeling, both sad and celebratory, was that I will not ever go there again. That is one passage that truly deserves its “Closed” designation. The more time I spent there, the more uneasy I got about even our tiny impacts on the frail, delicate areas we were trying to tiptoe through. I was able to stop and gather it all in, and to convert those brief minutes to deep permanent visual and emotional memories, and that is enough for me.

Back at the foot of the ladders, I consumed some therapeutic chocolate, and scooted right on up except for a brief pause at that climb-up between ladders.