MS Caving

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Our adventurous group left Catlin Saturday morning to go to the lava tubes southeast of Bend and hike at Smith Rock State Park. We drove down the Gorge to get to Bend, and along the way got to see some cowboys moving their herd of cows down the road. After a spectacular drive out of the green forests of the Willamette Valley into the yellow grasslands of Central Oregon, we arrived at our first cave, Boyd Cave. Although many of the caves are closed for bat habitat restoration, we were allowed to go into Boyd Cave. After donning helmets and headlamps, we explored the narrow passageways, expansive rooms, and rocky scrambles of the lava tube. We even turned out all the lights and listened to the profound silence only found in a cave. At the very end of the cave we squeezed into a tiny tunnel before retracing our steps back to daylight.

After emerging from underground, and a quick game pinecone baseball in the sagebrush, we drove to Arnold Ice Cave in the pink evening light. The ice-filled entrance to the cave is at the bottom of a large sinkhole, which we scrambled down to. We played on the ice, clambered over boulders, and scraped together tiny snowballs.
As the sun set (early!) we drove to a house in Bend where we spread out sleeping bags, made a delicious dinner of bisghetti, played games and relaxed. The next morning we got up early and went to Smith Rock State Park for a hike up to the best viewpoint around. We scrabbled over boulders, watched rock climbers, and pointed out rock formations that looked like monkeys. Although it was a step trail to the top, the view in every direction and the sense of accomplishment at reaching the top inspired cheers. Everyone noticed some sort of natural beauty, whether it was the Great Blue Heron in the reeds, the multicolored rocks, or the rustle of the wind in the junipers. We ate lunch next to the Crooked River, and then turned towards home.