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The next morning we headed east into a white landscape and then north towards Lava Beds N.M. In spite of the cold, there was lots of wildlife including a fox that grabbed some road kill just in front of our pickup, narrowly missing becoming some himself.
We registered at the Ranger station and donned our gear. As we were by far the oldest, the rest of the group looked at us appraisingly, wondering if we'd be able to make it. But I guess they thought there was enough of them to carry us out in case of a heart attack. After a 20 minute descent through trap door size openings, we finally hit the main grotto about 100' underground. From here we slid down another 100' along icy encrusted slope with the aid of a rope trying to avoid the 'crotch rocks' as the ranger called them. For the next hour we wandered through some fairly amazing formations.