August 23rd, 2014, afternoon
One of the main attractions at Great Basin National Park is the Lehman Caves.
This afternoon I spend an hour and a half underground. Our guide, Karen, takes us through this door (not the original entrance, of course)…
…and into a series of galleries and passages…
…and broken stalactites
Legend has it that Lehman, the man who theoretically discovered the caves (I say “theoretically” because the native peoples of the region had known about them for centuries), told his visitors (who paid a price to visit the caves): “If you can break it, you can take it.” So of course many people tried to break off a piece of stalactite, and many of them succeeded.
This formation is called cave wallpaper:
Karen says that this is called cave popcorn…
…these are cave draperies…
…and cave bacon:
I call these cave parsnips:
The passages can be very narrow:
I call these guys cave gods:
Obviously, the colors sometimes come from the artificial lighting:
What would you call this?
Here are some more broken stalactites. If you look closely you can see how, little by little, they reconstruct:
When a stalactite and a stalagmite join forces, they form a column:
We move into a new gallery:
There are just too many formations to comment upon:
A cave organ…
…a cave grotto…
…a cave altar…
Stalagmites, standing in a pool of water (though the water is difficult to see):
In yet another gallery, one in which the locals used to have parties, we see this writing on the ceiling:
Karen says that even if they wanted to, the cave authorities couldn’t erase these inscriptions without possibly damaging the formations. Thus, like the broken stalactites, these writings remain as reminders of what we have done in the past and to make us think about what we should or should not be doing, now and in the future.
One last photo and then it’s back to the surface:
Back in camp I make an early dinner of chicken, rice and vegetables…
…before going to an astronomy evening. That turned out to be very interesting under these very dark skies of the Great Basin. But I’m here in a cool and rainy period and at this altitude it gets cold at night. I’m not dressed for it.
Tomorrow I’ll be on my way east again.