April 2, 2017

Kartchner Caverns State Park

"The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the 
source of what you are looking for."
Joseph Campbell
Tombstone storefront prop
Powerful quote! It reminds me of my own past...of when I had to stop searching for Who I Am and begin searching for Who I Want To Be. It took 43 years dotted with fear, suffering, challenges and deficiency to find the courage to do so. I smile now, surreal, when I think about all those trials and tribulations...how can I not...they were my portals of discovery. Today, the most stress I have is following Imkelina's directions to Kartchner Caverns. And truth to be told...I still don't know who I want to be...but I am no longer fleeing, I found myself and I know what I am looking for.
Kartchner Caverns located under hill mounds on right, visitor center in background on left
The story of Kartchner Caverns started in 1974, with Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts never-ending quest for adventure. And they knew what they were seeking...to find a cave that no one had ever found. Well they found it and the rest is history. Spelunking, is an extreme sport and the cavers that partake are definitely a unique breed of explorers. I quiver just thinking of my own claustrophobia, but I now know why those t-shirts say "Cavers Rescue Spelunkers".
Kartchner Caverns, was voted the best cave in the United States in a 2016 USA Today poll. The caverns feature an incredible cluster of formations that when illuminated offer a beautiful kaleidoscope of reflections, patterns, shapes and colors. As I am not a "cave boy" with my phobia...I have no doubt the cavern would be far more dazzling than I have just described to individuals who are fans of caves. Great measures are taken to protect the fragile formations and level of humidity inside the caverns and as such, no dazzling inside shots of "the Throne Room" and Kubla Kahn or the 45,000 year-old bat guano.
Dragoon Mountains
For me, the true attraction for was the wonderful interpretive visitor center and the desert landscape encircling the caves. The campground offered many panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges, the Whetstone, Dragoon and Chiricahuas. One afternoon, we were greeted with the foreboding signs of wild storm. And sure enough, that night we became engrossed in a wondrous display of lightning strikes, hail and ground shaking thunder, which freaked out Sydney, who spent the storm shuddering on Imkelina's lap. These snakelike strikes danced all around us for better than an hour. Quite impressive!

view of visitor center from Foothills Loop Trail
As usual, Imkelina found a hike, the 2.4 mile long Foothills Loop Trail. The trail yielded some impressive views of the mountain ranges and valleys as it meandered around the campground, the cavern site and visitor center.
2017 "Gunslingers" with cell phones and bic lighters
And for you history buffs or old west groupies that always had a yearning to visit Tombstone and the O.K. Corral, curb your eagerness. This "film set" is extremely commercialized, not historically accurate and for my taste buds, few opportunities to excite them. The actual shootout took place in a narrow lot six doors west of the Corral's rear entrance and lasted only 30 seconds. Tombstone and the O.K Corral only became famous after Wyatt Earp died. However, Imkelina did find a cool shop that sold some tasty Killer Bee Honey.

Well, I definitely have no desire to go crawl around in caves, but I really like the word "spelunking" and may use it in future conversations...per the Urban Dictionary there are many nuances for the word.

At Waypoint 31.83414, -110.35003

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