Jan. 15, 2014 — Within 24 hours of opening online registrations, more have registered to participate in this year’s Winter Adventure Weekend at Carter Caves State Resort Park than during the first dozen days of signup last year.
“So far, we’ve had 330 registered,” said park naturalist Coy Ainsley, who notes the event has become increasingly popular each year since it was adopted as a replacement for the park’s extremely popular annual Crawl-A-Thon, which was canceled because of the threat of spreading white-nose syndrome among the park’s Indiana bat population.
“We had 100 or 120 people the first year, and last year we had 430 folks. It has definitely taken off and grown considerably over the last four years,” Ainsley said, adding there are still many caving enthusiasts who hope for the return of the original “wild caving” weekend.
“It was the first big caving event of the year, and one of the only winter activities,” Ainsley explained, adding the wild-caving opportunity during the Crawl-A-Thon was a somewhat rare resource for groups including Scouts and others. At least one Scout group from Huntington continued to visit the park during the last weekend of January, he said, and others have started to return for the Winter Adventure Weekend, which offers a variety of activities as well as opportunities to learn more about non-caving outdoor pursuits such as hiking, kayaking, recreational tree climbing, cave tours, winter survival, rappelling, archeological field trips, rock climbing and zip line experiences. Last year’s Winter Adventure Weekend added so many new experiences, Ainsley said volunteer organizers were hard pressed to find anything additional this year, although they were pleased to resume former Crawl-A-Thon activities including a hike and visits to two caves as well as the Tygart’s Gorge and “slacklining,” which he said should offer a great deal of excitement.