Been traveling these wide roads for so long…

Take me to your river

Leon Bridges

Today was our cave day. It was bound to happen. Our original plan was supposed to take us home through South Dakota and Wind Cave, but with the extra stop at CO Home at the end, that was scratched from the agenda. Our reluctance to backpack at Redwoods opened up a cave sized hole in our itenerary that we were able to fill at Oregon Caves NM today.

The morning started with yet another long windy drive through the mountains of Northern California and Southwest Oregon. Thankfully Molly let me drive again and everyone managed to avoid vomiting for the entire ride. When we got there Molly opted out of the actual cave tour and chose instead to hike solo above us. We dodged the Javoah’s Witnesses in the parking lot, had a quick PBJ&C, and the girls and I were ready to go.

Molly does have a point about all caves looking the same, but I think it’s still fun to be in one. The human history associated with them is often an intreaguing part of their story. Most caves we’ve visited come with stories of their use by native people dating back hundreds or thousands of years. Oregon Cave is quite different in this respect. The first recorded entry to the cave was in the mid-ninteeth century. Although there is no way to know for sure it was also likely the first entry to the cave by a human, period. There is no evidence in the cave of it ever having been used previously. There were no artifacts, no drawings, no fire marks, nothing at all but an untouched cave.

Of course, once it was discovered it quickly became a tourist attraction and people did their best to damage. As we’ve seen in other caves, early explorers left their mark by writing and taking away pieces. The CCC even got in on the action by dynamiting a new tunnel to improve the tour experience. Fortunatly the damage caused by the air and water being redirected through the cave due to this new passage was easily mitigated just a couple years after it was created by adding a door.

One of the most notable features in the cave to me was the huge amount of water flowing through it. For the first third of the tour we were actually walking on a platform built above a flowing river. The ranger told us that early in the spring the river actually comes up over the platforms as high as knee deep causing the cancellation of tours completely after especially wet winters.

After the tour we rejoined Molly who had escaped her hike unscathed by bears. We found a couple breweries to enjoy and got in dinner at In-n-Out for what is probably really our last time this summer. We’re going to do our best to catch up on photos and videos while we have this great internet so be on the lookout for some bonus posts!

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