#14 Carlsbad Cavern National Park, NM "Be Strong & Courageous"
I always feel embarrassed facing my fears because I think of our daughter and how brave she was. Anna faced so much and she never showed fear! She accepted cancer and death with courage, grace and faith. How do you do that at 20 years old?!? I have watched my only beautiful child die from a horrendous cancer. There is nothing more the world can do to scare or hurt me; this is as bad as it gets. There should be nothing that scares me anymore; should there?
What does any of that have to do with Carlsbad Caverns? I'm claustrophobic and avoid caves at all costs. A friend, KC Butler, convinced me before leaving on this section that it was so big I wouldn't feel claustrophobic in the Big Room. So, repeating Anna's favorite verse: "Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, for the Lord, your God is with you", I descended into the natural entrance of the cave. That's right, "The Natural Entrance". I did not take the elevator down to the Big Room. I hiked/ran the 60 switchbacks down 850 feet to the main part of the cave.
See that person below me?
And it keeps going down and down and down...
The rangers tell you to take 1 hour on that 1-1/2 miles of switchbacks because the steepness of the trail is hard on your body. I did it in 15 minutes. Mostly because it was kinda dark and claustrophobic. After getting to the Big Room I settled down and have to say, really enjoyed the incredible formations.
I'm not going to bore you with all the scientific explanations that I read on how the caves were formed, but here's the Reader's Digest Condensed Version. I am going to throw out one very cool word: Speleogenesis. This basically means how a cave is formed and it's origins.
When I was at Mammoth Cave, KY for the very first of these National Parks, we learned that the cave was, and still is being formed by rainwater...straight H2O. Carlsbad had a different twist on using water for it's formation. A little while back, (4-6 million years ago) water began to run through all the fractures and faults in the limestone. This wasn't regular rainwater, it was H2S (hydrogen-sulfide). But when it mixed with rainwater it formed sulfuric acid, H2SO4. This dissolved the limestone and formed the Caverns. The water is for the most part gone, unlike Mammoth Cave, where the water is still carving the cave.
In 1898, a young cowboy by the name of Jim White (16 years old) found the entrance to the cave. It's reported that he was herding cattle at dusk and saw a big black cloud (bats) going up into the sky from the ground. He left the herd and found the cave entrance. The rest is history as they say.
There is so much more to report about Carlsbad Caverns, that this little blog just can't cover. I encourage you to learn more; better yet, go experience it for yourself. You won't be sorry!
When you're in the cave go and sit at a place called
"The Top of the Cross" in the Big Room.
Listen closely for Anna's whisper.