Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Exploring a Lava Tube

I've had the opportunity to explore some lava tubes in different areas of the deserts, like El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico, Wupatki National Monument in Arizona, and Snow Canyon State Park in Utah, to name a few. The lava tubes fascinate me, as I think about the time when hot lava was flowing right where I am standing now. The lava was just the right consistency and temperature and moving at just the right speed to leave behind a tube. 

Many times the entrance to a lava tube is where part of the lava tube collapsed. It's common to enter a lava tube, go for a short while, and pop out another entrance at another collapse point. 

Here's my brother Andrew coming out of a secondary entrance, which has a gate across it to protect bats part of the year. Yep, you've guessed it, we're going to start on another Andrew adventure. That means it's got to be good! Andrew took his friends Bobby and Shae caving. I went along with Desert Boy to take photos and provide commentary.

As you might imagine, lava tubes are usually just a tube, but once in awhile the lava did some crazy things, and here Andrew is checking out a side passage. He is doing his best to lose Shae and Bobby, but it is hard to get lost in a lava tube.

Please note he is not wearing Desert Survivor-approved caving gear. That lava is really sharp, and the floor is littered with loose boulders that make footing treacherous.

As we continued further into the cave, I spotted this little cave cricket on the ceiling. He can hold on to the lave just fine, and likes to spend part of his life cycle in this lava tube. The extra long antennae help him find his way around in the dark. When I saw him, the ecologist part of me got all excited and I couldn't resist taking a photo. Okay, now back to the caving adventure. 

And then we come upon a sight even more amazing than a cave cricket--it's Bobby! (Or is it the ghost of Bobby?) If you missed Bobby's earlier adventure, click here to read all about it.
Bobby is trying to light up this huge passageway with his lights. Bobby and Shae followed Andrew, and as the passage kept getting smaller, Andrew kept going, and they kept following. Eventually it became a crawl, and still they followed him. Then it became a squeeze on the belly. And still they followed. And for what?

To see cool formations like this ice stalagmite. Okay, it's not that cool of a formation, but lava tubes rarely have formations, so you've got to take what you get. The floor of the cave was also covered with a thin layer of ice. Sometimes when they took a step, the ice broke, and they plummeted through to cold water below. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Or maybe they were following because they trusted Andrew with their lives. (Okay, I expect to see a few comments about that!) Perhaps they couldn't resist the adventure of seeing what else was in the lava tube. I understand the feeling.

Nevertheless, Shae, Andrew, and Bobby survived their trip through a lava tube with only a minor amount of dirt and no obvious blood. And look at the smiles on their faces--I think they enjoyed it!


Andrew said...

They just have a little bit of this.

Anonymous said...

I think they're smiling because they survived another outing with Andrew!


I Am Woody said...

Are cave crickets the things that live in the crawlspace under my house? They sure look like 'em. They make me cringe!!

Anonymous said...

I will admit....caving with Andrew is not the same as hiking with him. Rather that was an experience to be enjoyed. I will one day retake corporeal form and do this again with him. Not because I trust him with my life (look where that got me) but to see cool ice stalagmites :)


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