Finally, our return to Indian Grave Point Cave! This cave was one of my first to visit when I started caving around three years ago now. I recall taking three trips back then, first with Zeke McKee leading that took us up to Lake Superior and a couple return trips with friends to do light exploring in the same general area, LINK to those trips. Since then, other opportunities have presented themselves so a return trip to see the rest (majority) of the cave was delayed until just recently when the stars and schedules aligned and we got on the road planning to conquer the rest of this gem.
Arriving early so that we could explore at a leisurely pace, Kevin and I got the boys suited up and we made our way from the parking area, over the stile that I’m told was donated by the Nashville Grotto to facilitate access (thank you!) and huffed our way up the hill to the sink that includes the caves entrance.
From the top, we took a breather and after making sure the handline was still in good shape, made our way down the slope and through the entrance. Soon after we were in the initial passage that includes what appears to be old saltpeter vats, though with the level of visitation this cave has seen, it’s difficult to tell and I could be incorrect… though I have read elsewhere that this is the case.
On an amusing note, the crack that you see my son Ryan on in the picture below… we could not find it on the first three trips that we made years ago and I like to pretend that the reflector tape wasn’t on the wall at the time marking the spot but it certainly could have… at any rate, we made our way through the NAASEA room and through this crack and onwards into the rest of the cave, excited to see what was ahead of us.
It was exciting to see that the passage ahead was of walking height and for such a highly visited cave, was in fairly decent shape. We made our way along the passageway and by several pools of water that we had to navigate around. The one in the picture below was of a surprising depth and I’d be curious if it still contains water in the dry summer season.
We finally made it to what I believe is called the Boxcar room where the cave registry is kept. Being such a highly visited cave, there were a ton of… mementos… left there that were quite amusing to look through. We did our part by signing the registry and uniquely placed a few of the items by the container before proceeding with our trip.
From here we chose to take the direct route to the left. I did not see the next chamber called Grand Central Station on the cave map, but have heard others call it that… likely because from the Boxcar room, if you take a right and travel down the “Eye Of The Needle” passage, it comes out in that chamber, high above the other route where you can look down and see those below you. The room was so large that I really couldn’t capture a photo that did it justice.
Soon we made it around the breakdown of a dome and to a beautiful pool of water that provided a perfect opportunity for a photo op. We broke out the tripod and took advantage of a great location for a group shot.
Cleary from the writing on the wall, we were almost to our end goal, the Garden Of Eden, so we proceeded on our way past the pool and when the passage Y’ed… steered right to find a slope of calcite dams that are absolutely beautiful and the photo does not do it justice. Making our way to the top, the passage narrows in height and you can see Madonna’s Pool. I knew from the map that the passaged didn’t go a lot further so we opted out of getting drenched and going further and instead headed back and the right, originally the left side of the Y I mentioned to check out the Black Gypsum Pass.
The Black Gypsum Pass was neat in that I had never seem Black Gypsum, though it was a bit anticlimactic after seeing the Garden Of Eden. The passage continued for a ways until you get to “The Great Pit”…. at that point we assessed that we could have potentially made it down and back up without a handline, but it would not have been worth the effort considering that we were already near the end of the passage.
At this point we decided to call the trip a smashing success since we successfully found the route to the rest of this cave that we had previously missed so many times and gotten to see not just the Garden Of Eden, but the Black Gypsum Pass. It’s disappointing that I’ve heard so many cavers “bash” Indian Grave Point Cave and write it off as a “throw away” cave due to the high visitation. It’s really a fantastic cave with a lot to offer and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.