A New Natural Wonder
October 9, 2013

A New Natural Wonder

The fact that we are still discovering amazing sights and wonders in a world so globalized is absolutely inspiring. And the Daily Mail recently published information about a cave in China that is so large, it has its own weather system. That’s right—a cave with weather! The explorers “were amazed to discover the entrance to the hidden Er Wang Dong cave system and were stunned when they managed to climb inside to see a space so large that it can contain a cloud.”

Before moving on, perhaps you should check out this video from the Daily Mail article to see some of the imagery.

That certainly caught my attention when I first viewed it, but the photos are even more stunning. Between the stalactites and stalagmites, the raging rivers and calm pools, and the weather including fog and clouds, this is a natural wonder indeed. The cave has an area dubbed Cloud Ladder Hall that is large beyond common understanding. The images show a suspended explorer dwarfed by the hall. The explorer looks micro in comparison.

Prior to the deeper discovery of this cave system, some of the cave had been used for nitrate mining, but this was done only at areas near to the entrance. When the group of 15 explorers went deeper, they found a natural wonder full of beauty and danger. In one of the images, an American explorer holds onto a line as she crosses some very dangerous rapids in one part of the cave. Yahoo News states, “that near-impassable caves like the Tongzi master cave system are only accessible by a long swim or abseiling trip deep into the bowels of the network.” Explorers “had to be aware of high water levels inside the caves, especially when it rained heavily on the surface. The drainage catchment to these caves is massive and soon the caves can be extremely dangerous and impassable.”

Plus, in many areas explorers are simply suspended in mid-air surrounded by a vastness and enormity beyond most of our understanding. The explorers must have felt a true sense of the sublime.

I simply cannot imagine how beautiful this cave must be. I mean, seeing the images is one thing, but actually being a part of them is quite another. I can find the photo images stunning, but the sense and feel of enormity of actually being in the cave must be almost overwhelming. I know that is how I feel when I hike in the middle of nowhere, so to be one of the first people to set foot into something like the Er Wang Dong cave is a feeling that I cannot begin to understand, but I want to. As explorer Robbie Shone told The Weather Channel, “It is always very special, knowing that you are the first to step foot into a cave or somewhere where nobody had previously seen, not knowing what you might find and discover…Where else on Earth can still hold secrets and mysteries of discovery? That’s what I love so much about exploring.”

I image that the feeling of knowing you are seeing something on this planet for the very first time must be exhilarating, and to know that your images will be the first that the rest of the world has access to must make the photo artist feel such incredible pride.

Explorers were down for a month this first time but have plans to continue their explorations in the future. And I can’t wait to see what they share with us.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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