Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Height Differential

Chris is 5'11". His dad, Craig, is 6'. His sister Brenda is 5'8". I am 5'3" on an extra good day, 5'2" normally. On our most recent adventure, that made a difference.

Over Labor Day weekend, Craig treated the three of us to a trip out to the Idaho desert to explore the caves and an extinct volcano. At least, I think it was extinct. Nothing looked recent.

A beautiful sunrise gave us a good omen for the day, and we set out for Lariat Cave.

I later decided that this was a good cave to break me in. My life has never been known for its great athleticism or adventurism. All things considered, I really think I outdid myself on this day. But we needed a gentler beginning to give me a positive attitude for the rest of the day. We didn't know that at the time, but it's true nonetheless.

As I said, pretty easy beginnings getting down into the cave. Plenty of room once we were in there, too.

Just a note, it was pitch black everywhere we went. Camera flashes can be deceiving.

Some climbing was required, but generally speaking we were able to keep on pretty level ground.

I was usually behind the camera. Every once in a while, Chris made sure to get some proof that I was indeed there.

We made it in...

...and we made it out!

The main area we intended to explore took a bit more hiking over the lava flows. Interesting scenery, to say the least.

While hiking, you have to keep your eyes scanning the ground for holes or cracks that may potentially lead down to something worth investigating.

Craig has come out with many a scout trip, and most recently with a group of Chris's cousins. I am proud to announce that we discovered a completely NEW cave this time that Craig had never seen. Yay for us!

Much less space for maneuvering.

Yes, he just came out of that hole.

We climbed around just exploring for a bit, and Brenda found another hole leading into a larger chamber. I almost backed out right before this, but I stuck with it. See my reward?

Yeah, I don't know if "hole" is a good word. Maybe "area to test your flexibility amongst sharp rocks" would be a better name.

Getting out wasn't much better. Craig found another opening and proceeded to shift the rocks to see if we could get out. I watched Chris exit from the inside,

then it was my turn. You know, there are certain parts of the female anatomy that just can't be sucked in. And I am more well-endowed in the chest area than anyone else in the group...

Yeah, I totally climbed out of that crack. Seriously.

We nicknamed that the "backdoor". Chris found a "side door" too, but I decided it really wasn't worth the effort. But he does look cute with his head poking out of the ground.

The next tunnel again lacked head space. My thighs got a killer workout.

It was good to be shorter, though. I did last a little longer on my feet than the others. Tall isn't always everything it's cut out to be!

This has been dubbed Dome Cave. It's hard to see because the flash didn't get far enough to hit the other side.

You can get some sense of depth by how far Chris's feet are off the ground...

Lunch break!

And now...The Bat Cave

Oh, yuck. Yuck yuck yuck. I didn't like this one. If you look closely, you can see flying bats in these pictures.

Sometimes you don't have to look as closely.

And sometimes you didn't even have to look because it was too gross.

I was behind at this point. I'm short, remember? I couldn't move as quickly as the others, as well as being hindered by my less-than-enthusiastic attitude towards the bats. This was bad. Chris, Craig and Brenda had gone ahead to photograph this group. The bats didn't appreciate it for long and soon branched off to get away from the flash. Guess who was in their way? Yes...they all flew right at me.

Deep Breath. Deep Breath. I didn't like that part of the adventure. I survived, but I didn't like it.

Next up: Troll cave. Aptly named for its abundance of...troll poop. At least that's what someone thought it looks like. I didn't name it.

The ceilings here were pretty interesting. It looked like some kind of silver-tinted mineral, but none of us knew enough about geology to really have a clue. But it did look cool, especially with the flashlights shining directly on it.

We spent a lot of the day in this position. Hence why now, four days later, my legs are still sore. Crouching and crawling for hours on end will do that to you.

This cave was complete with big huge hole in the ground,

and another cavern on the opposite side of the big hole. I wasn't quite as ambitious as Chris. I never ventured to that side.

You can't tell, but we are standing right in front of the big hole/cavern. Thank goodness for automatic timers on cameras.

There is always risks with climbing around on big rocks and inside tunnels not quite big enough for a person's body. Chris bore the marks of the risks.


We were finished with the tunnels for a while and instead starting hiking up the butte. This is the actual remnants of the volcano, which made it very difficult to climb. The lava rocks were extremely sharp and jagged, in addition to being quite unstable. You had to test every rock before trusting your weight to it.

We also had to maneuver around a handful of craters. These holes in the ground were bigger.

We also had to watch out for lava tubes.

This one was pretty strong, but some would just collapse under the weight of being stepped on.

Once again, proof that I was actually there and actually did this! And once again, being short certainly didn't help. Sigh.

We made it! Let's go back a bit, just to give some perspective. This picture was taken from where we parked the van. Can you see the slight bump on the horizon, middle right? That's the butte from the van.

And here's the van from the butte. What? You can't see it? Ok, find the yellow strip in the middle...

...and zoom in. If we did nothing else, we at least hiked a long ways over very not-walking-friendly terrain.

But wait, there's more!

There was one more cave that Chris really wanted to see. The only downside was that it was on the other side of the butte. More hiking. My spirits did waver here for a bit, as I had no hope of keeping up with Chris or Craig. They were long gone before I could even get down off the rocks. Thank you, Brenda, for going slower with me!

Our last stop was Moss Cave, named for, you guessed it, the moss. An unusual sight in the middle of a desert.

This was by far the coldest of all the caves. Worthy of putting sweatshirts back on. The good side to the cold was water--we had already run out. We found a patch of ice not far inside the cave. Craig worked for probably twenty minutes, hacking at the ice with a rock.

He then used one of the water bottles to scoop up the water that filled the hole and poured it into the other water bottles. It took a long time, but at least we got something of a drink, even if it did include a few extra minerals. And pebbles.

It was harder to take pictures in this cave because of the water vapor in the air. Every tiny thing caught the light of the flash and reflected it back, blocking the light from getting to anything else. But at least it was cooler than outside!

And here is the true irony of the moment. Remember the twenty minutes spent digging out the ice? Here is what we found on the way back out.

Uh-huh. Water. In a stream deep enough to dunk the whole bottle in and fill within a few seconds.

Almost done! Chris and Craig saw two owls flying away when they first made it to the cave's mouth, and Chris found a feather when we came out. Sweet.

On the way back...

Notice the butte. Remember that we are on the opposite side from the van. Long ways to go!

I have no more pictures of the hike back. About halfway to the van, a rock I stepped on shifted and my foot went straight into a hole. I screwed up my ankle and spent the rest of the time limping over the rocks. SOOOO not fun. My ankle wasn't actually hurt too bad, but I really messed up my knee by limping. The combination of being out all day long, limping for a mile or so, and trying to elevate my ankle over the incredibly bumpy road home made for some pretty severe knee pain. I couldn't walk most of the rest of the day or the next. But I'm better now. No worries!

Jane and Megan spent the day with Grandma Janet. I don't have many pictures of them, but I do have these of Megan that I thought were funny. Jane, fairly often, liked to run outside and pick flowers from around the yard. Sometimes, Megan ended up with a piece or two.

So, that's just a cute picture of Megan eating plants. Ha. This next picture, though, carries on our family's tradition of drugs...Jane did steroids, and here is Megan on weed.

I just love what I'm teaching my children.

And there's still more...

We went back to Lariat Cave on Monday with Michael and Amanda. I'll get those pictures posted soon, too. For now, yay for fun adventures with my husband!


Tannie Datwyler said...

Can I just say that this post gave me a chuckle. Your descriptions of some of those tight spots were well worth the read. :)

It looks like a lot of fun! And hard work - I might get a little nervous, I'm not super claustrophobic, but a little if I stop to think about it.

Liz, Karl and Madison said...

wow. I'm impressed. I don't think I would have dared to even attempt some of those caves. Way to be brave. And I love Megan's weed picture.

Molly said...

So fun! We all went to the caves when I was about 7 or 8 I think. Fun stuff!

kylnstphns said...

are you freaking kidding me? You are so much braver than me. I would have been sitting on the trampoline eating flowers.