By Jeremy Patton
Skylight Cave is located in Bell County, Kentucky.
I will not reveal cave locations because they are frequent targets of vandalism. Furthermore, heavy human traffic destroys their fragile ecosystems.
Note: I first visited Skylight Cave in perhaps 2005 or later. That was when I took some of the following photos. Signs in the area now state that the cave is temporarily closed due to White Nose Syndrome, a fungal infection that kills bats. When I visit unrestricted caves, I wipe down my shoes and equipment with a bleach solution to prevent spreading the disease from one cave to another.
Skylight Cave is aptly named because a skylight shines above the main entrance. The entrance opens into a large cavern that soon tapers into a crawlway. The first time I visited this cave, I did not have knee or elbow pads and was not in a mood for tight spaces, so I only explored the cavern.
The cavern was dry, while the crawlway was slick with mud. Water must flow through it during wet weather. I did not see evidence of standing pools or debris in the cavern, which made me wonder where the water went.
Some imbeciles carved their stupid names into the walls, but I found no rubbish inside, nor did I see trash on the trail. This surprised me. I guess few people visit this cave because it is difficult to access. It resides about halfway up a 3000-foot mountain, so either way you try to reach it, you must work hard. This weeds out most of the tourists.
To the left of the main entrance, I found a gated crawl-hole, which made me curious as to why it was off-limits. By the looks of it, I was not sure if I wanted to attempt it anyway. I discovered a third cave in the vicinity that was also gated, a larger and more inviting tunnel. I plan to inquire about the gate and see if I can gain legal access. I suspect that all three caves are part of the same karst system.
I have a feeling that there are many more caves in the area, but they will be off-trail and even harder to reach.