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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Carlsbad Caverns, NM - Mar 2016

 The Caves

Good news, bad news
Entrance was free, Elevator was broke.

This was a bit of a disappointment or maybe I was expecting too much.

The "Cavern" is huge and amazing.  The disappointment came in the form of colors, or lack thereof, and lighting.  Obvious, a cave doesn't have lighting and the Parks Dept has done a great job of lighting it up, but I was expecting a little more light.

Colors were the biggest disappointment.  I had thought I had seen pictures with reds, greens, yellows and various rainbow colors down there, but it was pretty much cream/white/light cream/white.

(can't really get the size of it all with these pics, but big it is)

I was planning on taking my Nikon/tripod but at the last minute decided not to and just took the "Point N Shoot" (PnS Lumix) which usually does a good job.  Looking at the photos of the hike down, I figured the Nik/tri might be a little too much for this 'Ole Phool' on the way back... as it turns out I was right.

(Little did I know just how deep it was..heheh, easy going down, but up??)

Since the elevator was down for repairs, back up in "May"?, it was a hike down.  In my backpacking/hiking/climbing limited experience, it's Easy going down, but it usually means going Up-Hill on the way back. (Reverse for hiking)
(It's sooo deep.  How deep is it?? So deep that you have to look upward to see the Gate's of Hell)
The walkway was in excellent shape, hand rails and one way.  It felt a lot like a Disneyland Walk-a-bout.  Again, the cavern is HUGE, so long walking and it has several optional paths.

I did the "Big Room", I think anyway, never really said "Big room" just signs saying how far it was, .5 mi - .3 mi and then I guess it's supposed to be obvious.  Well, there are a lot of "Big Rooms" so not sure.  The walkways have one or two intersections pointing the way and since there's nowhere else to go, I assumed I was in it.

Hard to get anything with the PnS and would advise taking a tripod for some 20-sec shots.  You would get some good pics to show the size of it, but again, no colors.

Buy the post card, if not
Take the elevator, if not
Give the camera to a kid to take down.
Go when it's not crowded if at all possible.
Take camera and tripod if you're going to take pics.  While you can use a flash, to me, I don't like them as it washes out the soft colors.. heheh, but in this case, soft white? you make the call.

I would NOT recommend the hike down unless you are in excellent shape, i.e. a hiker.  I ended up revisiting the old hiking '4-count' (One Chipmunk, two chipmunks....) on steps and a '10-Chipmunk count' at each switch back (2 turns) could be old age, outta shape...heheh, do ya think? but even so, it's not fun.

(I see the light... coming back up to the entrance)

While it was a good overall experience, I'm able to check it off the list and move on to the next thing. I would go back when the elevator is fixed and in a non-crowded time with camera/tripod and if? I happen to be in the area.

While the "Bats" normally are gone this time of year, they were there, I could hear a few. Ranger said they came back a little early. I would have stayed at the recommendation of a few friends, if I were camping at the entrance, but not going to make the long drive just to see some "Flying mice" come out of a Black whole.  Luckily, the Batman movie gave me the feel for it... next time...

The RV park right at the entrance, 7-mi from the actual cavern entrance, would be ok to stay at if not crowded.  From my site, Brantley Lake SP, it's about an hour so not too bad.

And finally, your mind can imagine all sorts of things looking at the 'Tites & Mites' from a Walrus to a Baleen Whale  and a lot of other things, so that was something to experience... fun...

And all this for some 'Bat Sh.. errr, Guano"  apparently 40' deep in some sections, heheh, don't trip....

On to the Ice Caves and then Grand Canyon.  Right now, caught in wind storm till late tomorrow, Wed,  so just sitt'n prudy... well, sitt'n anyway...

Interesting factoid:
The limestone rock that holds Carlsbad Cavern is full of ocean fossil plants and animals from a time before the dinosaurs when the southeastern corner of New Mexico was a coastline similar to the Florida Keys.

Gallery Photos here.