By Jeremy Patton
Hamm Cave is located in Pulaski County, Kentucky.
My girlfriend Delania visited this cave several times when she was a teenager, but never ventured far beyond the entrance. On 12/13/15, we moved several hundred yards into the void.
We were awestruck by the cave formations, wildlife and a creek that we found, rushing in the darkness. We also stumbled upon a pile of bones of a small mammal. Some of Delania’s friends must have found these too, because they warned her that a “big animal” possibly inhabits the cave, making meals of unfortunate intruders. I brought my hand cannon, just in case, but the deceased may have simply blundered inside and died of natural causes.
At six-feet tall, I was able to walk upright through the wide passage. We did not encounter any treacherous conditions, but decided to turn back early because we were only equipped with two flashlights and uncertain of their battery life. We plan to return soon with head-lamps, flashlights and back-up batteries.
Trash was scattered throughout the entrance, but we found less of it as we proceeded deeper into the underworld. Unlike Dykes Cave, which we also visited that day, we found little graffiti marring its walls.
Whether Hamm Cave is considered public or private property or owned by a caving organization, I do not know. Regardless, I will not disclose its location. It is less trashed than other caves, so the fewer people who know about it, the better.
I have learned over the last few years that Pulaski County is graced by an extensive cave network, the biggest in Kentucky outside Mammoth Cave. Delania and I look forward to exploring it to whatever extent is safe for novices.
Delania and I returned to Hamm Cave on 12/20/15, just before dark. It was cold, but the cave grew warmer as we left the entrance behind us.
We made it all the way to the dead-end, which consists of an upper level that tapers to a crawl and a lower level of drips and pools. It might be possible to crawl further, but we decided to save our knees. My best guess as to the total length of the passageway is about one quarter mile.
Cave formations abound here and it is also, apparently, the epicenter for cave crickets.
The creek that flows near the main passage roared ferociously. Near the entrance, we paused at a small waterfall that a week earlier had been merely a drip. I am still trying to decide if I should count it as my first cave waterfall.
Again, I will not disclose the location of Hamm Cave. It is pristine compared to the beautiful, but heavily scarred Dykes Cave and I would like to keep it that way. I know that it is unlikely that any of my readers are vandals, but it only takes one moron to ruin everything.
7/11/16 – After recent flooding, the main passage was wet, with puddles standing everywhere. We spotted several sticks lodged in crevices high on the walls, which must mean that the cave fills with water.
We found crawdads, or crayfish, hanging out in the puddles. Some of them were white, which I assume to be albino cave crayfish. Others were gray, appearing to be one of the species found above ground.
We also ran into a cave bat…or I should say, a bat nearly crashed into Delania. I caught a glimpse of it, but Delania got a close-up view when it flew by her head and fluttered down the hallway. It is more likely that you will encounter bats in caves during fall and winter, when they hibernate. Do not disturb them during this time. If you wake them up, they will probably die.
Added 12/16/15 – Updated 7/22/16