By Jeremy Patton
Eureka Cave is located in Daniel Boone National Forest, McCreary County, Kentucky.
I will be vague when describing this cave because I do not want to reveal its location. I regret that this is necessary, but people destroy caves, sometimes intentionally.
I found Eureka Cave on my second attempt on 12/27/16. I was thrilled to finally locate it; I took photos of the entrance, but did not venture inside for the following reasons:
1. Last I heard, caves in Daniel Boone National Forest are closed due to White Nose Syndrome, a disease that kills bats. Scientists believe that the disease can be spread by human activity.
2. Recent rain caused flooding. The Eureka Cave system resides near a large creek, so entering the wrong part of the cave at the wrong time could result in drowning.
3. I was alone. Although I have been known to venture into the underworld solo, it is ill-advised. I guess I was not in the mood to risk my life.
I initiated a conversation with a friendly landowner about parking. He went the extra mile and gave me directions to Eureka Cave. He also informed me that it had multiple entrances.
His directions utilized a gravel road that followed a smaller creek to its confluence with the big creek. I soon discovered that the road crossed the small creek several times. Due to flooding, it was not possible to ford it without getting soaked.
I bushwhacked through the forest, keeping the creek to my right. The rough terrain was not terribly difficult.
I soon arrived at the confluence. The big creek raged like a river. There was no safe way to cross it.
I continued hiking downstream then caught a tantalizing view of a cave across the angry rapids, at creek-side. I saw several worn paths leading to it, indicating that it was frequently visited.
I then found a second cave high in the cliffs. This one I could get to. It did not resemble what the gentleman had described to me, so perhaps he was unaware of it. I found no trail or graffiti and very little trash. The entrance was secluded and hidden.
I discerned that it opened into a large cavern. The climb down would require caution, but looked relatively safe. Some formations were visible on the ceiling. I did not feel a rush of air, suggesting that the cavern might have been a dead-end. Marvels await within such dead-ends, however.
I look forward to exploring Eureka Cave. Its cliff-line entrance was easy to access and I am sure that a road somewhere will lead to the opposite side of the creek. I have heard that the creek is often dry, so it might be possible to walk across it in favorable weather.
During my five-day vacation, I hiked nearly 30 miles, partly motivated by depression; it was like therapy. I was in good shape, but unconditioned to carry a backpack for extended periods, which caused back pain.
I decided to wear my fanny pack to reduce the strain, but it limited the amount of equipment that I could carry. One of the items I chose to leave behind was toilet paper.
Sure enough, the need to do the number-two struck midway into the hike. I continued my hike, but as time wore on, the need became urgent.
Thankfully, I made it back to my vehicle and to my toilet paper, but the discomfort had put a heavy burden on me (no pun intended).
I need to find a bigger fanny pack.
Added 12/27/16 – Updated 1/4/17