Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Better-Than-Expected Adventure

With our very warm March, we spent more time outdoors than usual, and one Sunday we decided to take a hike to check out a cave I had the coordinates to. I didn't have much more information than the coordinates, so we didn't know what to expect. We packed up and enjoyed the hike, seeing a few splashes of color as wildflowers like Indian paintbrush (above) and milkvetch (below) bloomed.

This juniper on the top of a cliff looked like a bonsai tree.

It took us about 45 minutes to find the cave. I rigged a rope to check out the entrance and found this western fence lizard hanging out on a midden part way down.

I had managed to forget a descent device (never mind that I have seven), so I rappelled on a munter. (It's great to know different techniques--if you'd like to learn more, check out this upcoming cave rescue training.) Then I climbed out and lowered my husband and Desert Boy. Desert Girl didn't want to be lowered, and I wanted to move the rope to an easier spot to get out of the cave, so we went in from this side, where we could see the dark mouth of the cave beckoning.

We only found one historic signature in the cave, Cliff Bellander on June 25, 1955.

The entrance descended steeply over boulders and cobbles.

Before long we saw old, weathered formations. The floor was primarily a packrat midden.

The cave kept descending fast, and I was glad I had my 20 feet of webbing to help belay the kids down the steep sections.

Most of the cave was very dry, but we did find this wet formation with very pretty decorations.

The cave wasn't large, but it was certainly larger than we were expecting. And more beautiful too. It's such a treat when things turn out that way! Then it was time to head out. Desert Boy scrambled out with the help of the rope before I even finished taking photos. Desert Girl tried, but needs a little more strength.

She was happy to be hauled out.

I wanted to get a family photo, but those seem to be hard to get when we all look happy.

We knew the truck wasn't far, and the kids wanted to get to the snacks. So they took off. I was impressed with how Desert Girl ran through the bushes, jumping over small obstacles.

I was a lot slower, pausing to take photos, like this bitterbrush seed.
It was a fun adventure and a good day.

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