March 10, 2006

We had read about this cave tour a year ago and considered ourselves lucky to get a spot as they can go within 10 minutes of becoming available. The weather unfortunately took a turn for the worse as we approached Burney falls, but it let up enough for us to take a blustery hike around most of the park. About 5 we checked into a local trailer court with hookups. That 120 volts was going to come in handy tonight. 

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.