New Mexico : Day 6

Wednesday, September 8th. We woke up at our campsite, and marveled yet again at the breathtaking beauty of the Gaudalupe Mountains.

This is the day we went to Carlsbad Caverns. It was a relatively short drive away from teh campsite, and we arrived around 10. We walked through the natural entrance to the cave, and followed a long, winding paved footpath into the depths of the earth. All told, we were about 750 feet below the surface of New Mexico desert.

Meg had the foresight to book a special guided tour through the lower cave. We were required to bring batteries, and cotton gloves. We had to sign waivers to get in, and on them we had to write whom our Emergency Contact would be… in case of an emergency.

The batteries were for our hard-hats, which were equipped with LED/Halogen headlamps. To get into the cave, we had to use a knotted rope to shimmy down a very steep and slippery incline, to a small ledge. From there, we had to climb down three slippery metal ladders, of increasing length, until we reached the floor of the lower cave.

Unlike the self-guided tour (wheelchair-accessible paved walkway.. puh-lease.), this section of the cave required a little more dexterity and balance, and featured many cool things that regular visitors did not have access to. Examples: A bat that had landed at the base of a stalamite, died, and has since been encased in calcite as the stalagmite continued to form. Other highlights include a small bat skull, and myriad other crazy speleothems.

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