Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vail, Arizona: Colossal Cave Mountain Park

The visitor center at Colossal Cave overlooked the desert valley and framed it so beautifully.

The first thing the tour guide told our group was how the Native Americans, the founders of Colossal Cave only hung out in the entry crawl spaces.  Natives simply didn't have the light source to see any further.  Remnants from these times were pottery and blackened rock above camp fire burn outs. The black soot was about 12 inches *Ok...16 inches* from the rock below so I guess they were either really short or cooking quail was more fun lying on their chest, I don't know.   No seriously, they used the cave to store things that they wanted to keep cool. 

My essentials I wanted to keep cool were Chanel lipstick, Precise Rolling Ball Pilot pens and a tiny green notepad *grid lined* just in case a ghost wanted to tell me where the money was hidden.  It is kind of incredible to think early Natives were only exploring 3 percent of this cave.  They had no clue that the sulpher etched cavern had great rooms, a lake and narrow craggy bottomless shafts.  

I did learn the difference between a stalagmite which is formed in limestone caves from the ground up and "mite" knock you in the knees if you are not paying attention.  Stalactites grow in "tite" clusters from the ceiling.

No, this is not me.  Now just stop it!  This 40"x36" hand painted 1950's photo in the ever so cool stone gift shop adjacent to the Colossal Cave entry.  

It was pitch black once inside except for light from the guide's flash light.  It smelled like petrified skunk, dirt and tossed with nasty cologne. The guide pointed out a boarded up crawl space way up high that used to be a shaft formed by  Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930's.  

Once on the parking lot which was on top of the cave I found the asphalt cover that hid the mine shaft.  I could imagine sunlight streaking into the dark cavern and miners lowering in massive hunks of flagstone to the others who were shoving their used up cigarette butts into the wet and chunky grout to pave the future pathway for people of the future like us.

The entry to Colossal Cave.   

No comments:

Post a Comment