But I do know that I am continually frustrated to wander through a cavern that has been overused and abused, frustrated that I can never see the various rooms in their pristine state, as they existed before human discovery. Tourist caves in the Sierra Nevada Mother Lode were mostly discovered in the middle and late 1800s. The early explorers carried smoking torches, and thought nothing of destroying delicate speleothems if it served their purposes (liking making underground dance halls and the like). Visitors regularly broke off stalactites to take home as souvenirs.
The outer reaches of California Caverns suffered this fate, as I described in my previous post.
joy that John Muir felt when he visited the caves before they had been so badly defaced:
Here we lingered and reveled, rejoicing to find so much music in stony silence, so much splendor in darkness, so many mansions in the depths of the mountains, buildings ever in process of construction, yet never finished, developing from perfection to perfection, profusion without overabundance; every particle visible or invisible in glorious motion, marching to the music of the spheres in a region regarded as the abode of eternal stillness and death.