Hiking along the Roaring River at Pooks Hill (Julia Kocubinski)
We woke early this morning to eat a hot breakfast and set off to the ATM cave. We arrived at the trailhead, where they were now building an welcome center and bathrooms. The first time I visited this was nothing but a small sign marking the trailhead, and soon there would be a visitors center! We hiked in for about 45 minutes, crossing the river a couple times, and then Hector prepped us at the entrance to the cave. We left our lunch and extra clothing at the entrance, put on our helmets and swam into the cave. The walk in was hardly a walk, it was a crawl, a climb, a few jumps, a little swimming, and some scrambling. Hector did such a great job directing us on exactly where to hold on or step and we always felt we were safe and in great hands. Once we climbed up into the cavern, we took off our shoes and walked through the cavern in socks. We saw various broken pots and human remains in the cave, but the most spectacular thing to me was the beauty of the cavern itself. The stalactites and stalagmites were sparkling from the crystallization. We also had quite a bit of time to just sit and enjoy the silence of the cavern. On our way out of the cave, we saw at least 5 or more groups coming in, but we had the entire tour to ourselves until we left the cavern. It is great to stay at Pooks and be so close to the cave to be able to enjoy it without any crowds. After eating lunch near the cave entrance, we hiked back out and walked back to Pooks. That afternoon, Evan and I wanted to see more of the property so we set off for a walk around. We visited the orchard where they were growing various produce trees and then spent some time along the river. Evan had me practice casting the larger salt-water rods so I would be ready for fishing later in the week. It was great to have some time to just relax and hang out at Pooks. We read, drank cocktails and just relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.
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