Friday, June 8, 2012

Grandma Week 2012: Day 1, Timpanogos Cave

Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes. –Buddha

Every summer, my mom plans a little stay-cation for her grandkids and their parents {either or both}. LadyBug starts asking about it mid-March, and everyone always has a really good time. This summer, our Grandma Week has been divided into two parts to better accommodate everyone. We kicked Grandma Week off with a bang this weekend.

Our first activity was to visit Timpanogos Cave National Monument, which is actually a set of three caves, with lots of beautiful and colorful rock formations inside. To reach the caves you have to hike a fairly steep 1½-mile trail, which zig-zags up the mountain-side and rises 1,092 feet to an elevation of 6,730 feet above sea level.
{Top left:Grasshopper, Elizabeth, LadyBug
Top right: Back row: Grandma, Grasshopper, Miss Butterfly, Middle row: Mantis, LadyBug, Lizard Boy, Front row: Cap'n Underpants, Roly Poly, Mouse
Bottom: Jeremy, Miss Butterfly, Cap'n Underpants, LadyBug, Mantis, Grasshopper, Julie}

Quote of the Day:
Lizard Boy: I just don't think I'm going to make it. I'll have to sit here and wait for you to come back.

There are several signs along the trail that warn of rattle snakes. One of the rangers on trail duty pointed this guy out. I never would have noticed him; he was sitting just off the trail and is nicely camouflaged. I stayed well away, using my zoom to get closer. I'm kind of glad his head was out of sight.

It is no leisurely stroll, but it is so worth it to get to the top and see the caves. The first cave is called Hansen Cave. Visitors enter through a man-made door and as you move into the cave, the tour guide shows you the natural entrance, which is about 20 feet above the door. It would be a tricky spot to navigate even with modern climbing gear. The man who discovered the cave in the 1860's {I think} was alone and definitely did not have a lot of fancy schmancy gear. I think if it would have been up to me, the cave would have gone undiscovered.

From Hansen Cave, you move through a man-made corridor into Middle Cave, which was discovered by the son and grandson of the man who discovered Hansen Cave. The natural entrance to the cave is so high up and the cave walls zig and zag back and forth so you can't see the entrance. On their first descent into the cave, their rope was about 50 feet too short, so they climbed down the rest of the way without even the assistance of a rope. I'm really glad I was not the wife and mother of these two.

After Middle Cave, you move through another man-made corridor into Timpanogos Cave. The rock formations are amazing, and where nickel, iron or manganese have been incorporated into the formation process, the rocks have tints of green, pink, purple and brown in them. Amazing. Of course, we saw stalactites, stalagmites and columns formed when the two meet in the middle. There was also flowstone, cave bacon and many other kinds of formations. Timpanogos Cave has lots of helictites, which are the gravity-defying curlicue formation you can see on the ceiling in the picture below. You can also see the exceedingly rare stalgpipe just behind the kids, which grows in the most amazing {and convenient} ways to keep you safe throughout the cave, and is the only formation you are allowed to touch.
{Back row: LadyBug, Grasshopper, Miss Butterfly
Front row: Roly Poly, Cap'n Underpants, Mouse, Lizard Boy, Mantis}

All in all, everyone had a really great time and it was fun to visit this National Monument that has been a family favorite since I was kid.


janicca77 said...

I remember going there, and the hike up the trail, as kids! It was so awesome <3
PS So glad you weren't any closer to that rattlesnake!

Jill said...

Two things that are pretty incredible: One, that the hike up really is only a mile and a half. Two: that none of the kids are sore in the morning!
But it's a fun trip!

QuiltNut Creations said...

I love Grandma week! Looks like a fabulous start.