Tuesday, April 15, 2014

And Down, Down We Go...Into the Depths - Carlsbad Caverns

You gotta really want to visit Carlsbad to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park   It is way out of the way.  So is Guadalupe Mountains National Park and fortunately the two are near each other.
All the photos below were shot with my iPhone using the Pro HDR app.  Too much hassle to use big camera, etc.  Really worked well.

Yesterday we drove north about 35 miles to see the famous Caverns.   I  wanted to get my Passport stamped and Yogananda had visited here back in early 20th century. The caverns didn't disappoint.

The geology is quite interesting. 

Running west rom SE New Mexico then south into NW Texas is this 250 million year old ridge of a dead undersea coral reef from Permian Geologic Period.
Ye olde' Permian Period Layers I think
The sea went away, the reef got covered up then the ridge lifted back up like so many other mountain ranges in the west.

The main difference here is this fold was composed of undersea materials whereas most other mountain ranges were other geologic materials.
One of the cool formations
Compression made the limestone from billions and billions of little shells and plants and life forms.  So, when you hike around these mountains or walk through the caves, you are looking at molecules which were once permeated with life force or life energy.

Not meaning to get all "woo woo" on you but it is a little different energy.  Not inanimate even tho it is, if you get my drift.

We drive north along the "shoreline" 

West of us are these high mountain ridges and peaks, many above 8,000 ft.  Gradually the elevation goes down and we get to the turnoff to the Caverns.

We drive through a long winding canyon then back up on the shelf to the Visitor center.  The wind is blowing fresh at 40 mph so we dart into the center.

Just like Yogananda viewed
There are two entrances into the cave.  Elevator descending 750 feet to main room or natrual entrance and hike down about 1.3 miles and 800 feet elevation.
Natural Entrance.
Because of the wind, we chose to take the elevator down, hike around the caves for 2 miles then walk back up to the entrance or exit for us.
Looking up to entrance as we climbed back out
Guided tours are available by reservation in advance so we elected to stroll through the "Big Room". There are 119 total known caves here.  Some 300 ft tall.
Map of area so we didn't get lost. hehe
Dim lights illuminate the path and shine on various formations.  There is an initiative in place now to replace all the current lighting with LED systems designed to preserve the look while significantly reducing power needs.
It took us 2 hours to tour the Big room and adjacent areas.  Then we headed back up the "down ramp".  Most people choose to enter this way which really has appeal.

We felt it was better to get the cardio workout of going up and save the wear and tear on out knees from the descent which is pretty steep in places.

We are glad we did.  You only need one easy day unless you really want to "spelunk" back in the tiny crevices with a guide.  We ate our sack lunch outside in sheltered area then headed back south.

Content to be back in daylight.

Did you Know?

Nearly 400,000 Brazilian (more commonly called Mexican) Free-tailed bats call Carlsbad Cavern home in the summer... and all they want to do each night is eat bugs... several tons of them!

They aren't there now.  Maybe a few but the real show is in the summer.  Too hot for us though.

Until next time......

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