Into the caverns we go! Carlsbad, New Mexico

The incredible Carlsbad Caverns

The Caverns are located about twenty miles South of the town of Carlsbad. I’d made an appointment to walk in at 12:30 as I’d read they only allow a certain amount of people down at once. The parking lot was full, crap, it was Sunday but most of the plates were from out of state, and out of country, I saw a few Sonoran and Chihuahuan plates as well as Alaska, that’s out of country! ha! And a poor soul from Manitoba! We’d stopped at the entrance where there is a large RV park and gas/gift store, they had propane, yeah! But…they were closed, boo, don’t run out of propane in Carlsbad on a Sunday, no one is open, not even the stores that say they have propane, Tractor Supply Store…does not. The park road goes in seven miles after you leave the highway and you wind your way through canyons and up onto the mesa where the entrance is.

Our last time here, yikes, twenty years ago, we rode the elevator down and back up again, we really wanted the experience of walking down this time. Sadly the bats here have all flown South to Mexico, smart bats, so there was no bat flight but the walk down was quite the trip! Now, it did say it was strenuous and steep, I believe the steep, really only strenuous if you decide to walk back up…:) It’s a two km 750 foot drop to get down. It was cold on the surface and actually warmed up quite nicely as we went down!

Well lit it is not but your eyes do adjust as you go down. There are spots to stop and rest if you need to, or to let the running children go by…0_0…large family groups did tend to block the pathway but you could also stop and let them by:)

Altogether over thirty miles of passages have been discovered. The deepest chamber is at 1037 feet below the surface. An estimated 250 million years ago, the area surrounding Carlsbad Caverns National Park served as the coastline for an inland sea. Present in the sea was a plethora of marine life, whose remains formed a reef. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is situated in a bed of limestone above groundwater level. During cavern development, it was within the groundwater zone. Deep below the limestones are petroleum reserves (part of the Mid-Continent Oil Field). At a time near the end of the Cenozoic, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) began to seep upwards from the petroleum into the groundwater. The combination of hydrogen sulfide and oxygen from the water formed sulfuric acid: H2S + 2O2 → H2SO4. The sulfuric acid then continued upward, aggressively dissolving the limestone deposits to form caverns. The presence of gypsum within the cave is a confirmation of the occurrence of this process, as it is a byproduct of the reaction between sulfuric acid and limestone.

The most difficult thing to capture is the immense scale of the caverns. Not having a flash proved to make things difficult! Things on my wish list, flash, and lightning trigger! I had to push the ISO and deal with the noise but mostly it was just about looking. Such beauty and SO many people with so few manners. Nothing wrong with taking a selfie but when you block the entire path over and over again, at every formation for everyone else as your stare and grin dumbly into you phone, or try to arrange your family of seven into one shot (Have you heard of birth control?) do people want to see your ugly mug there, or the beauty of the caves. Ha! Curmudgeon am I. Twenty years ago there were no f*cking phones, it was lovely! Ha! Rant over! Maybe…hahahahaha!

“Carlsbad Cavern is one of over 300 limestone caves in a fossil reef laid down by an inland sea about 265 million years ago. Twelve-to-fourteen thousand years ago, American Indians lived in the Guadalupe Mountains. Some of their cooking ring sites and pictographs have been found within the present day boundaries of the park. By the 1500s, Spanish explorers were passing through present-day west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Spain claimed the southwest until 1821 when Mexico revolted against her and claimed independence. Mexico, fighting the westward expansionist United States in the late 1840s, lost the southwest to the US. In 1850, New Mexico Territory was created, and or the next 30 years the cultural conflict between American Indians and the US government continued. Eddy, New Mexico, the future Carlsbad, was established in 1888 and New Mexico became a state in 1912.” from the park website.

By the time we hit the big room I was tired of people. It’s not as if people are inherently stupid, well, maybe but they just seem unaware of others around them. Just a tiny bit of courtesy, being aware that stopping with your entire family in one spot, over and over again and not seeing that if you all just lined up single file everyone could get by, or see as well. The sun had come out when we rode the elevator to the surface, I admit to needing to distance myself from the crowds, it was overwhelming at times, maybe I have Anthropophobia, fear of people or Enochlophobia which refers to a fear of crowds. Your new words for the day! Ha!

Map of the caverns

I think we’ll be avoiding large crowds for awhile, it was certainly somewhere we wanted to wear a mask. It was warm and humid with little air flow and lot’s of coughing sneezing homo sapiens:)

As the American’s say “Stay Safe” after the latest mass shooting this week, maybe they are right, or perhaps it should be..stay aware and try not to piss anyone off, no matter how hard that is!! Saludos amigos, hasta pronto! Get ready for a bit of an alien experience;) Roswell!

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