Blanchard Springs Cavern
Back in early July my grandmother, brother, and I took a road trip to attend 11th Annual Arthrogryposis Conference. After the conference, we decided we’d go to Arkansas for a couple days before turning around and heading home. We stayed in a hotel in Batesville. One of the things we did in Arkansas was take a tour of a cavern.
The cavern we went through is called Blanchard Springs Cavern. Blanchard Springs is in Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. I was a little hesitant to explore the cavern. The park rangers warned me that the paved path has sharp turns, are wet, and certain areas are steep. Hearing that scared me. Part of me wanted to leave, but another part of me said, “Do it. What do you got to lose?”
During the time we visited the cavern, there were two different tours — Discovery Trail and Dripstone Trail. Discovery Trail was longer, strenuous, and it also had stairs. So we opted on the latter because it was shorter in length and time. Dripstone Trail was/is wheelchair accessible because it has a paved path.
We took an elevator down a ways to the entrance. The cavern itself was cold and dark, but it was also beautiful. Due to my wheelchair (electric) we decided that we would follow the group. My brother stayed close behind me to help me up the steep inclines. I didn’t want to slow the group down because I had to be careful driving on the path. On the Dripstone Trail through the cavern, we saw a lot of crystalline formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and flowstones (still changing). One of the formations in the cave looked like a battleship. It was pretty and actually resembled one.
Along the way were learned about the bats living in the three-level cave system. There was more emphasis and what was, and still is, killing the bats. They called it White-Noise Syndrome. White-Noise Syndrome (WNS) is a disease. It is a fungus that is transmitted bat to bat. This disease has killed millions of bats in North America. My grandmother and I (mainly my grandmother) took pictures. However, the picture are bland compared to seeing the real thing. At the end of the tour we left the cavern, decontaminate ourselves (to prevent the spread of WNS), and took a crazy, bumpy, and fast bus ride back to the entrance.
We also, on our owns after the tour, went to the stream where the water was exiting the cavern. I will admit that I was afraid to tour the cavern. I was afraid that something would go wrong. That I’d get hurt. My biggest fear? My wheelchair dying halfway through.
I’m glad I took the tour. I got to do things many people in my position don’t often get to do. Not every cave or cavern is wheelchair accessible. The few that are, not many people know about. If you choose to go on an adventure as such, make sure to check that it’s accessible by wheelchair in advance.
Here is a link to the website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/osfnf/specialplaces/?cid=stelprdb5351305
Originally published at amcinsideandout.blogspot.com on April 16, 2017.