Patton Cave

While hiking in Charles C. Deem Wilderness, I led my family to one of my favorite landmarks. Namely, a cave in a ridge that overlooks Lake Monroe. Patton Cave. I’ve been here many times. Once I was awoken in my sleeping bag while camped in the larger cave entrance by the howling of coyotes at the other.

Caves are amazing experiences in karst topography where water over time washed open passageways. Sometimes narrow, sometimes gigantic, they wind between, below, and over often terrific formations. Writer Linda Hogan wrote in Dwellings

“Surrounded by stone, this body of mine is seen in the dim light for what it is, fragile and brief.”

Inside the cave, there is something profoundly sobering about subjecting yourself to this space. A passageway surrounded by immovable rock and earth. It’s life. It’s struggle. You really are caught between a rock and a hard place. There’s no way out, other than to keep walking, crouching, crawling toward the literal light at the end of the tunnel. Not recommended for the claustrophobic. The exit of Patton is this narrow sliver of air between rocks at the bottom of a sinkhole.

But then you’re born again from the earth, as my sis says.

And survival is inspiring.

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