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Day 56: Exploration for Independence Day

Day 56: Exploration for Independence Day

America was “discovered” during the era of exploration. Western civilization had become fascinated with finding the last frontier. While the Fourth of July is meant to be a holiday to celebrate our independence as a country it seemed fitting to spend my holiday in one of the last frontiers: A cave. There are few places left on Earth that have not been explored yet. The great underground is one of those few. In the spirit of exploration we cavers seek to find places no one else has ever seen. There is nothing like the rush of seeing a place that may have never been seen by a human before. America was already inhabited when we discovered it, but caves often are completely untouched (especially those that are hypogene in nature).

A neat dissolutional stream “chute” in Marble Cave of Sequoia National Park July 4, 2011

The cave I visited today was a commercial cave and not a new discovery for me, but less than 100 years ago it was a new frontier for someone. Crystal cave was discovered by Alex Medley and Cassius Weber in 1918. Today it is located within the boundaries of Sequoia National Park. Formed in a beautiful gray and white marble it has around 2.5 miles of passage. Since the marble bedding has a high dip angle the cave isn’t extensive laterally.

The marble in a stream bed within Crystal Cave Sequoia National Park July 4, 2011

They have been making a lot of efforts to return Crystal cave to a more natural state. The park has been replacing lighting with new ones that will help prevent the growth of algae and other organisms that are not natural to the cave environment. The tour involves a nice hike down a fair amount of stairs that you will need to climb back up so I don’t recommend it for anyone unable to traverse a significant amount of incline.

Crystal Cave Entrance July 4, 2011

The cave gate is pretty interesting, designed to look like a spider web. The tour will vary depending on the guide you get, but all are interesting. A member of my grotto back home, Chouteau Grotto, was actually working the day I visited although I wasn’t assigned to his tour. Such a small world when you are a caver!

While I had spent the last couple days visiting caves and natural wonders of inland California it was time for me to make like the explorers of the 15th century and head West. Time to head back to the area of my birth and visit some family. I need the three S’s: Sun, Sand and Sea.

Until then…


Rimstone in Crystal Cave July 4, 2012


Crystal cave speleothems July 4, 2011


July 4th, 2011 | 1 Comment

One Response to “Day 56: Exploration for Independence Day”

  • 02/28/13

    Amanda says:

    Hey Nicole, love your blog! Great stories and organization! Your pictures are amazing as well with very nice composures. Hope everything is well in grad school.

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