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Day 55: Deep into the Earth and Towering High into the Sky

Day 55: Deep into the Earth and Towering High into the Sky

Balance is important in your day to day life. One has to enjoy both the warm sunshine and the starry nights to have a complete day. Life is never about choosing left, right or even straight but rather to chose a mix of the three until you find that perfect place.

Today I headed to the interior of California in anticipation of seeing some of the most spectacular helictities in the country. The caves of the state are known to produce some beautiful, delicate speleothems and helictites are one of my favorites to look at (next to cave pearls, of course!). Black Chasm caverns is one of those such caves that anyone can take the time to visit.

Helictites galore in Black Chasm Caverns. July 3rd, 2011.

The helictites are delicate formations that seem to defy gravity, growing every which way unlike their cousins of the cave (stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, etc). How exactly they form is still debated but it is commonly accepted that capillary forces play a big roll in their whimsical development.

Draperies in Black Chasm Caverns. Volcano, California July 3rd, 2011.

The texture of the draperies here in Black Chasm was quite different than the limestone caves I have been used to. The crystal structure almost looked more like aragonite than calcite. I don’t know why yet, but maybe graduate school will enlighten me. :)

A close-up of the crystalline structure of the draperies in Black Chasm. July 3rd, 2011.

Located near Volcano, CA this National Natural Landmark is a pretty inexpensive visit. There are plenty of places to camp near-by, or if you chose to do what I did, is a nice wayside visit on your way to King’s Canyon/Sequoia National Parks. It was time for me to head out to see some of the LARGEST trees in the world.

A sequoia in King’s Canyon N.P. July 3rd, 2011

I was able to see many of the famous Sequoia trees, including the General Grant which is the WIDEST sequoia at 40′ diameter, the 3rd largest tree in the WORLD by volume. and is 1700 years old! A humorous sight to see in this part of King’s Canyon N.P. is the Centennial Stump. It is a tree that was cut in 1875, measuring 24′ in diameter, and shipped to Philadelphia’s Centennial Exhibition. No one believed that it truly was one tree and they proclaimed it to be the “California Hoax”. There is one sequoia that fell many years ago and is now an empty shell that you can actually walk through. That’s how BIG these trees are!

Walking through a fallen giant. A sequoia in King’s Canyon N.P. on July 3rd, 2011.

I stayed the night at the John Muir lodge in Grant Grove, and ate at their wonderful full-service restaurant. It was a bit pricey (think $200+ for the night, although it WAS a holiday weekend) but since the campgrounds were first come first serve and all full I was a bit out of luck. Plus, the lodge ended up being well worth it and the nice dinner was a welcome change to my usual camp food.

It’s a bit ironic that I am a caver because I need sunlight like I need water. In a world full of bright, warm sunlight I love exploring the deepest and darkest depths of the Earth. At the same time I love to spend hours basking in the sun, where I feel happy and content with being at peace. I guess that’s my perfect balance. I need the world as a whole, from the deepest, darkest depths to the greatest, brightest heights. I’m going to spend my life experiencing all that the Earth has to offer.

This Grand Adventure is step one for me, what is your step one?


A beautiful vista of King’s Canyon N.P. July 3rd, 2011.

A giant sequoia of King’s Canyon N.P. July 3rd, 2011.

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