Monday, October 24, 2016

NSS 2016 Western Regional, aka Caving with Friends in California

When I heard about the NSS Western Regional being the second weekend in October, I thought how much fun it would be. Then I got busy and didn't think much more about it until some friends asked if I would be going. I decided it would be worth it to see some caves in a part of California I had never been caving in before. I took the kids, and we headed off towards Sonora, California, with fun stops on the way (see this post). We arrived Friday evening and set up our tent, then a big group of us went out to eat in Sonora, a very touristy town in the Motherlode area in the foothills of the Sierra.

The next day, we met our trip leader and group to go to one of the Western Cave Conservancy (WCC) caves. The WCC works to protect and conserve caves. I've been a member for years, but had never been to one of the WCC caves, so was eager to go. The cave entrance was easy to negotiate, and we let the kids go first. They have quite a bit of cave experience. Plus, this trip for me was all about making sure the kids were having a good time and enjoying caving.

The kids loved being the leaders, but they gave up on tight passages a little too quickly. I'd have to tell them to keep going, and then they would get to a bigger room. They got better as we went on and showed us how easy the challenge crawl was (only one adult made it, and she had to take a shoe off). I was glad to see the kids interacting well. The cave was quite dusty and full of belly crawls, so I didn't get many photos. But we spent most of the day there. And then, on the way back, we stopped for some promised ice cream, and that made the day even better!
 The kids and I skipped the business meeting to go to church, as that ends up being difficult to get to where we live. Then we returned to the Motherlode Fairgrounds for a delicious dinner, followed by a slideshow presentation of caves in Spain and Vietnam. Then came an entertaining auction. The party continued, but the kids were ready for bed and I decided to join them in our tent on some comfy grass.

The next morning was a little leisurely, but eventually we got breakfast and packed up and headed to another cave. This one had a limit of six people, so our group was much smaller. We drove down a long gravel road with amazing views, then had a short hike to the hidden cave entrance. We belayed the kids at the entrance.

Then we were exploring the cave, along with some big millipedes.

The cave had fantastic decorations.

This time I took a couple extra flashes and from time to time got inspired to try to set up a cave photo. The pros make it look so easy! (I still have a lot to learn!)

Desert Boy was glad to follow Ron into a secret passage.

We all enjoyed the beautiful speleothems.

Some were nearly translucent.

We saw teeny tiny crystals as well.

And beautiful draperies.

This interesting area might have been a streambed that had washed away during a flood event. Katrina made a very nice mode.

The draperies almost looked like teeth!

Even though the kids were the only ones on the trip, Ron and Teresa made them feel extra special, and they were having a great time.

Desert Girl checked out more speleothems. She seemed happy to pose for photos.
We got out of the cave while it was still light, but not by much. We passed signs for tourist caves that would be very fun to visit. In fact, I would have really loved an extra day in the area! We ate dinner at a tasty place in Murphy's, and then decided to spend the night there before beginning the long trek home the next day.

...to be continued...

1 comment:

thecaptainnemo said...

Those caves look familiar ;)
Hope you can make it to this years regional. http://chilembwe.com/WRC_LavaBeds/html/
I probably won't since Im pretty busy with homework, but you never know.
-John aka CaptNemo

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