P is for Plum Crumbly Cave

I’ve wanted to see an all-sandstone cave for quite a while. Going through the listing of caves that start with P, I found this gem. Turned in just a year ago, it said it was in Hartselle which is sandstone! It has clearly been known for a long time to locals, as there is remnants of old rope and old charcoal signatures from early 1900’s. The one is best condition is this from 1921, but there were others dated 1912.

Historic Signature - Less HaynesLess Haynes 1921

The path would be long and annoying except for local caver who mapped and turned in the cave, Zeb, had a four wheeler that made it easy! The road is mostly in the sun and an uphill trudge otherwise. There was a fire a while back (sounds like a controlled burn that got a bit out of hand and onto the neighboring property) which is where the cave is. The landowner living out of state wanted the land checked on, to see what damage had been done, but warned, “don’t fall into the big hole!” so of course that piqued the interest of cavers who went to look at it.  And what they saw was pretty awesome.

Entrance ViewThe wide 20 x 20 foot entrance.

The pit reminded me of a small version of one I did in Mexico. All the moss and ferns it almost appeared to be in the middle of a jungle. A carpet of green awaited us below the surface contrasting beautifully with the oranges and reds of the sandstone. Into the PitSandstone was even attempting to make formations, little bits of flowstone and ripples on the wall. I wasn’t expecting to see any formations at all and I wonder how much of this is because of guano, as there were a couple tricolors as well as other birds nesting amongst the shelves of sandstone.

Formations of SandstoneThe ferns were beautiful. It was cool and moist perfect for all the greenery below. The carpeting of moss was delicate and beautiful. We took care to not cross it, less it be disturbed. Sunlight filtered in from the trees above creating a beautiful atmosphere.

FernsThe yellows, oranges, and reds of the sandstone with occasional green coating from the moss on even the walls was a stark contrast to the grays of limestone caves. And of course, the floor was powdered sand rather than mud or pebbles. There was some collapse and little mounds of breakdown, and a bit of passage towards the back but nothing noteworthy. It was really just a beautiful entrance chamber.  Sandstone Ceiling & Fern CarpetCarpet of moss and ferns gives way to sand and breakdown, with amazing sandstone roof.

I admired the layers. The roof itself was very flat, but the walls were crumbly layers that looked like waves. In many areas there was enough light for moss to coat the walls, and you could tell the most recent rockfalls as there would be random chunks without green.

Sandstone LayersThe day had started off overcast but the sun came out while we were in the pit, and filtered through creating a lovely sunbeam as we climbed out.

Mountain of Sandstone