Raining inside Cumaca cavern
This has been a year of intense activity in areas where limestone shapes the terrain. We found out that the rain does continue in subterranean formations long after it ceases to fall atop the earth.
The hills were white with early morning rain as we drove the ten miles that would take us into the eastern heart of the Northern Range. The Cumaca Road is the only drivable road that would take you thus far.
The extremely muddy conditions that greeted us as we began our trek did nothing to lift the spirits of those who accompanied us. They were all prepped beforehand but actually experiencing this was quite another matter.
The Oropouche and Rio Grande Rivers were full, slowing our progress up their course. I mused that had my children been with us that morning, they would have swum those parts where we diverted to the banks when pools were too deep for "dry" passage.
Our uphill climb was just as demanding—one step forward, three steps sliding backward. Our arms worked hard to pull our body up the hill. Roots, sturdy trunks and steady stones were our life supports along the way.
Eventually, we reached our destination, one of the most beautiful and clean caverns in the Northern Range. The pale glare of sunlight trying to dispel the mists did nothing to disperse the hordes of mosquitoes that zoomed in on us. This was a bumper year for the hatching of these singing insects as water has been collecting everywhere.
Without delay, we climbed down into a large depression and entered our cavern. Thankfully, there were no mosquitoes here. However, we made a startling discovery. Though it had ceased to rain in the forests above, it was still raining buckets of water underground.
The dark interior of the cavern was filled with the sounds of "plinks" and "plonks"of constant, dripping water that emanated from the stalactites on the roof and walls. We shone our lights onto drip tips that pitched water like they were urinating. Their edges gleamed white with the calcite that was being formed. An extensive flowstone, the ultimate beauty of this cavern, was literally sheeting with water.
It was amazing to see so much activity in this cavern. We had visited this cavern occasionally over the years and, usually, we would observe the slow drip here and there as water accumulated at the tip of various formations and dripped off when its weight reached a maximum. This present accelerated activity was a marvel to behold. Some of the formations that we had noted in the past were now much more elongated. One narrow passage had filled in altogether, sealing off that part of the cavern forever.
Stalagmites rising from the floor of the cavern were literally bathing in the unceasing drenching they got. A few minutes more, and we were wishing for umbrellas.
As we exited the mouth of the cavern, we were surprised to find there were blue skies and sunshine. When we looked back into the dimness of the cavern, the saturated roof still continued to rain into this subterranean world. Judging from the trend of the weather this year, this would be a very "busy" cavern for some time to come.