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May 26 2013

Geotrippin’ Parte the Thirde: To the Bat Cave!

On the dawn of Day Four, I was about to say, “Sod this for a game of larks – let’s go back and see the bits of the Josephine we missed!” Because, you see, we were headed for Oregon Caves. And I’ve been through caves. And they never let me take pictures. So I end up tromping through all of these spectacular things, and I can’t show you a damned bit of it. Sure, I could purchase other photographers’ work, or find park service photos, or something, but that’s not the same as letting you see it the way we saw it. And that makes visiting caves sort of anticlimactic for me.

But we went, and Lockwood said he’d read that they allow photography, and I squeed. Then they said they allow flash photography, and I nearly screamed for joy. Finally, a cave that is awesome, protected, and that I can show you! I took about nine billion photos, and will show many of them to you when we have a proper write-up. For now, here’s a photo of me providing scale for one of the columns.

Moi with column. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

Moi with column. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

So one thing I love a lot about this cave, other than the fact they allow photography, is that the rangers leading the tours talk about the geology thereof. Also, there are bats, so you can call it a bat cave. Although we didn’t see any bats this time round.

The other thing I adore about this cave is the fact that it’s made of marble. Kind of low-grade marble, but marble none the less. And on the walk to and from the parking lot, you can see some pretty spectacular folds in it.

Moi with fold in marble. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

Moi with fold in marble. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

We met some very nice folks working there for the summer who knew lots about geology and were excited to talk about more. The woman who led our tour even let it go over a bit because Lockwood and I were so busy snapping pictures of great geology. She even pointed out the dikes and other nifty geological features that Hiking Oregon’s Geology said the guide would neglect to mention, so that was awesome – great improvement, Oregon Caves! I like it when geology doesn’t get ignored. It too often does, even when the tour in question is touring a geological feature.

Our own Helena has volunteered at this cave, and she’s helped repair bits of it, so give her a thank-you when you go through those spectacular rooms.

After the caves and lunch, we headed north and did some poking round near Riddle, OR, which has a nickel mine and therefore interesting minerals, but we were too busy looking for said minerals to snap pictures of each other. Then Corvallis – at a reasonable hour! – and a nice rest-up for our adventures the following day.

Of course we did Marys Peak – don’t we always, when we’re hanging about town? The thing about Marys Peak is, there’s always something new and wonderful to discover. This time, it was lots of early lilies. Lockwood seems to have had much fun photographing me photographing lilies:

Moi atop Marys Peak, stalking little lilies. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

Moi atop Marys Peak, stalking little lilies. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

And then we wandered down a trail we’d taken last year. This year, it had snow near it still – and more lilies, although you can’t see them.

Moi investigating leftover snow. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

Moi investigating leftover snow. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

Lovely!

Then, when we got down off the peak, it was time to go visit Alsea Falls, which is magnificent – and amazingly accessible. First, you hike through a pretty green forest with a lovely big bridge.

Moi on bridge. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

Moi on bridge. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

Then you hike down and can stand pretty much right at the top of the falls.

Ai haz a ponder about how close you can reasonably get before being knocked over the edge by the current... I'm a physical coward, so that's about as close as I got. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

Ai haz a ponder about how close you can reasonably get before being knocked over the edge by the current… I’m a physical coward, so that’s about as close as I got. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

Then there’s a simple trail to the bottom, where you can get a magnificent view of these falls plunging over their lip of Columbia River Basalt, and you can walk right up in to them quite safely, as long as you mind your footing (some of the rocks are slippery).

Moi at the base of the main plunge at Alsea Falls. I love waterfalls you can get right up in to. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

Moi at the base of the main plunge at Alsea Falls. I love waterfalls you can get right up in to. Image credit Lockwood DeWitt.

And then, the end. We returned to Corvallis, swapped photos, and I headed home to Seattle, arriving back at a reasonable (?!) hour. You know what happened next – the novelty of not coming home from a geotrip with Lockwood dead-exhausted sent me out in search of further adventures. And now I’m home with B, and the weather’s improving, we’ll be having many more. Some of which I’m hoping you’ll be able to come along for.

We’ll soon have some in-depth looks at the geology we saw. Stay tuned!

5 comments

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  1. 1
    lockwooddewitt

    “Columbia River Basalt” Nope, Siletz River Volcanics. Easy mistake to make, though. GDB, either way.

  2. 2
    Trebuchet

    Color me green, with envy. Your easy hikes are still pretty much beyond my ability, however.

  3. 3
    rq

    I scrolled through that post looking for an actual photo of a lily, since you mentioned them and all… Ai iz disappoint! Unless there will be a lily post, yes, that might make up for it.
    Ok, fine, the caves were awesome, too! I have never been in a cave – or no, wait, that’s wrong. I have, but it was so long ago, I don’t really remember it, because I was very little.
    And your physical courage looks about on a par with mine, so you’re ok. :)

  4. 4
    aspidoscelis

    Yeah, what rq said. Lilies? What kind of lilies? There are photos, right? :-)

  5. 5
    Onamission5

    I think Carlsbad lets you take flash pictures, too. Or I should say, if they don’t, nobody tried to stop me.

    I had no idea that the Oregon caves were marble. That’s awesome!

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