July 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Kniola: Cave Adventures at Bernheim

Ryan Kniola

Ryan Kniola

By Ryan Kniola
Environmental and Plant Biology Major, Ohio University
Summer internship at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest


You might remember from my overview post that I mentioned that on our free time Nate and I explore a cave that’s less than 2 miles away. The cave is owned by Spalding University but has granted Bernheim with access. When driving or walking down the road the cave can be hard to see but I remembered the spot from the first time when the other Natural Areas intern, Justin Van Horne, showed us.

The cave starts out with a ceiling of about 10 to 12 feet that quickly tapers down to the point that makes you crouch and eventually crawl. Near the entrance is where we have found the most life, which makes sense because it’s the most habitable conditions. We have seen cool lichens and dozens of spiders; cave crickets, small flying bugs, and salamanders.

Red-backed salamander at home in caveThe deeper we went into the cave, the smaller it became and eventually we were forced to crawl.  At times Nate and I had to lie down and stretch out because we were walking crouched for some time. We decided to stop when we saw our first “squeeze,” which was an area that we would have had to crawl on our stomachs. Nate and I decided we didn’t want to do it at that time and planted the orange flags we brought to mark our progress.  I wish we had brought a small OU flag! We talked to the other employees, and one of them has been back in there but went farther than us. She told us of a cool room with a good amount of little stalactites and a creek running through. That made me want to go back in all the more, but I haven’t done it yet. It was really neat being in there and eerie to be surrounded by complete darkness and silence.

Click here for a Photo album

Have a good one,




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