Sunday, July 19, 2009

Going down

I've been fascinated with volcanoes since I read a story about a small girl and her lei in my reading book in second (or maybe third) grade. I would love to see lava flow, or find obsidian lying around on the ground. Living in the midwest made this all unlikely. So I was not going to miss the chance to see Newberry Volcanic Park just south of the Columbia Gorge! No flowing lava or obsidian, but cinder cones and pumice fields enough to satisfy. The highlight was my two mile walk today - taken 100 feet underground. We walked more than a mile into an old lava tube, that down until it was about 100 feet below the surface. The oddest moment was to walk under the major highway - 80 feet over our heads - no light, no sound gave it away.

The cave is "unimproved", which means no lights other than what you bring with you, the occasional interpretive sign and a set of metal steps to help you make the initial descent. Man Man carried a rented propane lantern, the boys and I flashlights. It was a wild experience. There were times when we could not hear or see anyone else. I thought of Tom Sawyer and Becky in the cave, I imagine a walk through a post-apocalyptic subway system - the shadowy rocks looked like train wreckage.

Every once in a while I would realize that I was nearly a mile away from any light or the surface. When the boys decided to go through the section where you had to crawl on your hands and knees, I was undone until they returned.

The boys are undecided which adventure was most magical - this hike to the nether world or yesterday's adventure in the falls.

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