Welcome back to Oregon Caves National Monument. If you didn’t leave the cave at the 110 exit then there’s about 400 more stairs to go.
Caves actually get more beautiful with age.
Up until 1886 Niagara Falls was the end of the cave. Then one day Walter Burch felt a breeze and found a small hole which he enlarged. He had to crawl through in his longjohns to get through, pushing his clothes in front of him and carrying a candle for light.
Walter climbed about 30 feet down a rope and crawled through the “blow hole” ….
Blow hole passage. Big stalagmite called the wishing post was once rubbed by every visitor.
…and found himself in what is now called Miller’s Chapel.
Named after Joquin Miller, also known as the poet of the Sierras, who helped the cave become protected in 1909. The “Chapel” part, because of a wedding.
Historic photo from NPS archives
Time to move on to the largest room in the cave.
Welcome to the Ghost Room, the size of a football field. Sorry no ghosts. From here we’ll be making a side trip…
Stairs up to Paradise Lost
…climbing about 90 steps round trip. You can pass on this if you want, but….
From the Ghost Room floor we are about 150 feet underground. It’s all uphill from here.
We’re on the last leg of our journey and will be passing through more human blasted tunnels and natural cave.
During reconstruction of the trail in 1998 black bear bones dating 3,000 years old were discovered. Many fossils of small animals have been found near cave openings. But the oldest bones belong to a 38,000 year old jaguar discovered not far from the Ghost Room in the early 1990s.
Exit tunnel and air-lock door
If we can just make it through this door we’ll see the light of day again.
Looking out cave exit
I’ll bet you figured we’d never make it out of the cave. We only saw about one third of the total cave, the rest requires much crawling and climbing. There’s three and a half miles of cave passages. So, do you want to go back in and crawl around?
Looking back at cave exit
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