Just a seven minute bike ride from campus there is one of the most beautiful, unique, and historic places in Carlisle. Managed by Carlisle Parks and Recreation, Cave Hill is a small relatively unknown spot along the Conodoguinet Creek. On a hot September day when classes were still being introduced and exams were only a distant thought, my friends and I took the short walk to Cave Hill. Off the road, down a steep scraggly path there is a picnic table, clearing and rope swing. The Creek, while covered in floating pancakes of gelatinous algae, was extremely refreshing.
Across the river there is an fallen sycamore tree with a platform and rope thirty feet above the water. My friend Sam bravely swung off the swing resulting in a thunderous crack, and everyone else cringing and expecting Sam to be crushed as he fell. Fortunately the tree remained standing, and since we had common sense we didn’t jump off the tree anymore. The rope swing that is. Jumping off the platform was still incredibly fun, and this time there was no audible strain on the tree.
Cave Hill gets its name from the local cave system with the entrance right by the creek. We had been warned there was muck, but none of us had boots so I put trash bags on my feet and waded into the cold brown sludge. We could initially stand up, but soon we had to crouch down to avoid bumping into the sparkling, mica-flecked, walls. After a few minutes of walking we came to a large opening. Above us were many nesting bats clinging to slimy, still dripping, stalactites. We took turns exploring the narrow passages that needed to difficult maneuvering to reach. These side passages are not for the claustrophobic, as there were points I thought I was stuck. At the end of our caving experience we were all thoroughly covered in mud, all very cold, and all very happy.
As with many nature spots, if there is no constant watch there will be vandalism and littering. Cave Hill is unfortunately, not different. At the entrance to the cave there was layers and layers of graffiti. While there was a trash bin, it was partially melted, and garbage was overflowing all across the grounds and into the water. We used the tattered remnants of our trash bag boots to pick up all the trash we could, but there was far too much for our hands to carry. As environmentally conscious students living in the town of Carlisle, it is our responsibility to engage the town we live in by cleaning areas like this whenever there is a need. If you ever visit Cave Hill bring a trash bag and spend a few minutes leaving the area cleaner than you found it. Since my first visit, I found that the Parks and Recreation service had an event where volunteers performed a clean sweep of trash, and power washed graffiti from the cave walls. There is limited parking, however Cave Hill is only 1.76 miles from Dickinson. This Map My Ride map shows just how easy it is to get there. Clearly this spot has importance to the people of Carlisle, and it would be great to show that the students of Dickinson care about it as well.