This secret cave could become a shelter – again

My daughter, Christy, and I took a trip to Big Piney River in mid-April, where I grew up. I wanted to show her some caves I remember, caves that my grandfather had shown me more than 50 years ago.

He found many of them just because when he trapped the river in the winter, he would look for overhangs on the river and feeder tributaries where he could build a fire and be a little warmer through the night.

I forgot my hip boots, something I wouldn’t have ever done when I was a kid on the Piney. Of course when I was a kid, my hip boots always were hand-me-downs and they usually leaked. But you only used them half the year, the other half of the year you waded in old shoes or sneakers.

So I did some wading again in the Big Piney.

I did good, though, to remember my camera, boat and paddles… and some lights!

Looked a long time for that one cave I remember that grandpa said only he knew about back decades ago. Found the first one easy and a third one he hadn’t told me about, but the one that had big rooms back in the back and a waterfall took some looking.

The entrance to that one is small and well hidden, and I found that day a couple of weeks back that what I could crawl into so easily in 1962 was one heck of a challenge today. I think that entrance has grown smaller!!

Those caves had some little orange salamanders back in them a ways, but there were formations that were absolutely beautiful in size and shape and color. When I was a kid, folks would go into a cave in various areas of the Ozarks and break off stalagmites and stalactites and carve on the walls.

But that is exactly why grandpa Dablemont told me to never take anyone to see the hidden ones, or the hard-to-find ones. I thought about blindfolding my daughter so I could protect the location of those we saw that day, but I decided I could trust her.

She was in awe of what we found, and like me, a little apprehensive about going back into a cavern through small openings with small lights. But she was awed by all we saw.

I want everyone to see some of the pictures we took, so I put 8 or 10 of them on my website and if you have a computer or have someone who does have, for pete’s sake take a look, you will be amazed. You ought to be able to see them at

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