Saturday, June 12, 2004 — 11:20 am
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky – Carmichael
We signed up for the Grand Avenue Tour, a four and a half hour, four mile hike underground. We rode from the visitor center to the Carmichael Entrance on a bus. One of the rangers gave us an introduction to the cave and told us the safety instructions. The other ranger walked down to the man-made entrance, unlocked the door and looked for bats. He said there were four there, two of which were active.
We got into single-file line and walked down the stairs into the depression where the door was located. The ranger who spotted the bats was standing outside the cave door, and I asked him what kind of bats he had seen. He said Eastern Pipistrelle. (OK, I cheated on this one.)
The cave entrance was a cement arch leading to a metal door. I saw two of the bats. The first was hanging upside down from the ceiling, paying no attention to the large group of people that was passing just under him. I could easily have reached out and grabbed it as I went by. The second bat was hanging on the wall above the door. In the brief second during which I saw it, it seemed to be scrambling and disturbed. No wonder.