Friday, July 30

In the Belly of the Mountain

Sister Diane planned a couple day trips during our Zimmerman Reunion, the first was to explore the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, aprox. 20 miles SW of the interstate at Three Forks.  

A bit of history (per google):
It is one of the largest cave complexes in the NW with fantastical "speleothems" or cave formations – stalagmites and stalactites, dripstone columns, flowstone ribbons and helictites.  The entrance to this stunning cave sits about 1,400 feet above the Jefferson River, which the famed leaders (Lewis and Clark) of the "Corps of Discovery" paddled in 1805, unaware of the nearby wonder. Native Americans knew of the cave, but non-natives didn't discover it until 1882. In 1892, two hunters rediscovered it, returning six years later to explore.  A local miner, Dan Morrison, developed the caverns for the public around 1900, building 2,000 wooden stairs inside (since replaced with concrete by the CCC), and named it "Limespur Cave." Shortly thereafter, however, the railroad laid claim to the land only to pass it to the U.S. government in 1908, whereupon President Theodore Roosevelt declared it the nation's 15th national monument and named it after the explorers. In 1937, the land was transferred to Montana's State Park System to become Montana’s first state park.
It was a long, hot, steep hike up the mountain to get to the entrance, about a half mile.

Great views though.
At the entrance resting and listening to our guide.
We're goin' in! 
We couldn't take any photos for the first few caverns
lest we disturb all the bats and their babies. 
We did disturb one, however,
who had some fun with us.  You should have seen Bill.
Well, it was amazing.
Lots of stooping, bending, and navigating...
 Some tight spaces, one place were we had to slide down on our butts
and then waddle like a duck to get through.
The temperature in the cave is a constant 50 degrees.
Lots of going down...
Lots of going up....
I don't remember the lights being colored,
it is the cave that had lots of variation.  Wow!
We were in there two hours, and hiked two miles through the caves. 
We had to be careful of the cave rats that liked to nip at our shoes. 
We learned to kick them away.  Just kidding!  There were no rats.
Just bats.
These are only a few of our photos but you get the idea.
Here we are in the tunnel to the exit and saying goodbye to our guide.
 Back on the outside of the mountain!
It was awesome and you should definitely put this on your list of places to see! 
  Best field trip ever for all ages- our tour group had a 6-7 month old baby
strapped onto her daddy and my Dad who is 88.


Rachelle said...

The photos are gorgeous, but I must say that the baby and your Dad are exceptional human beings! Two hours in a cave?? Lovely, but I would have passed. Nice to see it via your blog. :o) The outside scenary is just beautiful as well. Thanks for sharing, Laurie.

Connie said...

Laurie, You got some incredible photos inside the cave! The colors show up much better on the pictures, than with the poor lighting in the cave.