Our home away from home.
At any rate, we opted to take the natural entrance; a 1-mile route descending @750 feet.
Natural entrance. Also, at the right time of year, where the bats come out. Unfortunately, we were there at the wrong time of year to witness the evening bat flights.
A view of the entrance, as seen from within the cave.
As the audio guide mentioned several times, a mnemonic for remembering which is which between stalactite and stalagmite: "A stalagmite is on the ground, someday it *might* be taller. A stalactite holds *tight* to the ceiling."
The Witch's Finger. Neat looking stalagmite.
I'll be honest. I don't know what this is supposed to be. I'm sure it was important though.
Interesting rock pattern.
I *think* this is a look across the Big Room. One of the lessons learned on this trip was that I desparately need to get a new digital camera...and take notes to correspond with pictures.
One of the giants in the Hall of Giants. Without a frame of reference, it's hard to tell that this particular stalagmite is somewhere around 6 stories tall.
After we finished our tour of the caverns, we took a detour on a scenic drive past a few points of interest.
Again, I'm sure it was important at the time, but I have no recollection what this is supposed to be of...
Eric in front of a small cave.
Also along the scenic drive was a trailhead for the Rattlesnake Canyon trail. We hiked along that for 3-4 hours. It was a barely marked trail, following a dry riverbed. A nice hike, and the ups and downs of it were good preparation for Guadalupe Peak.
Eric ahead of me on the trail. (I was pretty much the anchor which kept us at a nice slow pace so we could appreciate the view. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)
Josh with backdrop. Note again the need for a better camera.
A look back at the trail, and the snow which was common as we neared the top.
A view of El Capitan.
Eric and Josh at the marker on the peak. One of the interesting things in the guestbook that was available to sign were complaints about how the marker was an eyesore. I suppose it's true that it isn't a natural formation, but I hardly think it's as bad as all that. Ah well. You can't please everybody.
Eric by the marker.
Josh by the marker. Incidentally that is not a laser; it's yet another little incentive for me to upgrade my camera. Sorta humorous though, eh?
Me, by the marker. My hair was a frequent source of amusement in the morning, when it was in even more disarray.
And then, as mentioned, we headed back down. The only real problem encountered were the areas where the snow covered the trails and traction was minimal. More than one or two slips; and down was much harder than up had been at those points.
Back on the road again, we headed to White Sands, New Mexico. We arrived towards evening at the Oliver Lee Memorial Park campground. It is a *very* nice campground. Sheltered tables at the campgrounds, a lighted walkway to the bathrooms, showers, and cheap too. Recommended, should you be looking for a place to camp near there.
We pitched camp and zipped off to see White Sands at night. Unfortunately, we discovered that since Eric had last been there, they changed their hours, and we had barely an hour left before they closed the park for the night. So we made the most of it and wandered out onto the dunes. I had never seen White Sands before; it was extraordinary.
Eric and Josh at White Sands.
View of White Sands.
Eric and Josh atop a fairly large lava rock.
Slightly different view of same rock.
After the valley of fire, we headed to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site. It is an area with approximately 21,000 rock carvings. We spent about 3 hours wandering among them.
To round out the day, we visited the Three Rivers Campground area, and spent a few hours hiking along a river (never did find out the name of it).