bGAB trip leaves mammoth impression

Nick Biere’s spring break experience

By Nick Biere

I can guarantee you that there is no better way I could have spent my spring break than doing service work in Mammoth Cave National Park. While others were lounging on a beach or travelling, I was able to gain an understanding of the wonderful ecosystem that exists below us. I got to explore the largest cave system in the world alongside other passionate people from BGSU who dedicated their breaks to improving the world we live in.

It is not often that I think about the impact I have on the complicated and fragile ecosystem under my feet, but this trip challenged me to do so. Mammoth Cave gave me a new perspective on how humans can help or harm cave systems and how we can limit our impact on underground ecosystems. I got to see bats, massive chasms, cave crickets and waterfalls all in the same place. My bGAB group went on a 10-mile adventure through the cave. We crawled, squeezed through small passages and walked through canyons all in the same cave. Nothing I have ever seen compares to going through five miles of cave passages to arrive at an underground waterfall and not being able to see where it even starts because of its immense height.

The service work we did was both challenging and rewarding. Our group took on two projects and finished both of them during our time at the park. First, we were faced with the task of removing old cables that had been in the cave for 10 years. We also removed the debris from an old horse trail bridge to restore a spring in the woods to the way it was before humans impacted it. Both of these projects required me to push myself physically and mentally, and that resulted in me growing as a person. Our group worked diligently to achieve our goals of finishing both projects before the week was over while gaining knowledge about cave ecosystems and the park itself.

Every day we did service work and then got to go on a hike with our tour guide, Larry Johnson, to see the vast woods that make up Mammoth Cave National Park. Our tour guides were full of knowledge and happily answered our many questions. Not only does the park have over 400 miles of caves, but it has over 50,000 acres of expansive woods, waterfalls and beautiful rolling Kentucky hills. There is beauty both above and below the ground in this incredible park. I am lucky to have been able to see so much of it and I just scratched the surface of what there is to see and do there.