Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Mexico May 2016 Westward Ho! 8a Carlsbad Caverns National Park

We set out from Guadalupe Mountains National Park on Friday morning under bright blue, beautiful skies to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  Since we'd be gone for a good many hours we took Phoenix (they have kennels at the Caverns) and left Cadbury with a few windows propped open and the considerable wind blowing through them.  I was a bit concerned it might get hot under all the sun but hoped the wind would keep it cool enough.

We stopped at Whites City for gas and then continued to the Visitor Center where, because we are "old farts" we got in for free with our Golden Age pass.  (Why is it called Golden when most of us are "silver"?)

The souvenir shop at Whites City, taking advantage of their proximity to Roswell, our next destination

The elevator is not working so we would be walking down the 900 ft./ 275 m. but first I had to grab pics of the CCC housing and original visitor parking area and flowers.

We entered the Natural Entrance and started down on the path that was a series of switchbacks through incredible formations that I wondered after awhile, why anyone would choose to miss.  One of them alone was worth the steep climb both ways: The Whale's Mouth.

We descended the rest of the way and stopped at the small restaurant and rest rooms for a breather before starting the tour of the Big Room which we were told would take an hour.  Yeah, well the descent was supposed to be an hour but when one of us has to stop at virtually every turn for another photo it takes longer, like 1.5 hours.  While we ate our small lunch we saw Bill, our neighbor at the campground and he joined us for the tour around the Big Room.

I kept stopping and wondering what it must have been like for Bill White when he first came upon the caverns at around age 15, explored it with his Mexican friend, Pothead and then for the men who would explore and light the caverns for exploration and eventually our enjoyment.  The caverns have been opened to the public since the early days of the 20th century and early visitors were lowered in guano (bat poop) collection barrels but by 1932 there was an elevator in place.

The next series is only a small selection of the photos I took and NONE of them do this awesome space justice.  They are in no particular order and I cannot remember the names of most of the formations though most have no name.  All I can say is if you EVER have a chance to get to the Caverns...GO!  I suffered from claustrophobia as a child and for one brief moment as the light from above disappeared I had a fleeting feeling of "uh oh" but the beauty and everything about them quickly pushed any thoughts from my head...

Amphitheater and natural entrance

starting down

Last of the light from the top

Lion's Tail

Mirror Lake

speleotherms up close

The Bone Yard

Back at the top... almost there
After an hour+ walking in awe and wonder around the Big Room we were back at the restaurant/rest room area and after using both we 3 headed back to the top.  The walk was not as hard as I thought it would be during our descent and we were back at the top again in an hour.  After a brief stop in the Gift Shop and to pick up Phoenix we headed back to the campground where the sun was still bright, the winds still blowing and Cadbury comfortable in the cool darkness of the MoHo.  And then the talk turned to what we would do for a follow up the next day.  We knew we were not up for summiting Guadalupe Mountain if only because the 6-8 hour round trip would be too long to leave Phoenix locked up, so we decided upon Devil's Hallway which I wrote about in part 1.

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