I hate to walk uphill. Love the views, love (spacious) caves, but hatehatehate to walk uphill. So that part, while beautiful, caused a lot of grump-bling (that'd be grumbling grumpily).
You have to have a reservation for the cave tour. They only take 20 people at a time through the caves, partly because the rooms aren't very big. So we made a reservation for 1pm, which meant we could start hiking at 11:30. It was 10:45. Lunch?
There are picnic benches across the road, and we unpacked what turned out to be the lunch of champions. Myrna brought: turkey sandwiches and black cherries. I (who didn't know she was bringing lunch) packed a turkey sandwich and black cherries. Great minds, right? Of course, she had one sandwich left over because I packed my own.
At 11:30 the ranger checked our ticket and warned us that wherever there's a red line on the pavement we must KEEP WALKING because of falling rock. She did not say, "The first quarter of a mile straight uphill is lined in red!!" Grr.
But hey! We saw a mountain goat! And I mean, we saw that thing. First he was way up on a rocky point. Then, as we rounded a switchback curve, he was forty feet away on another rock. he stared at Myrna. Stared. Then ambled closer. We walked on, only to look down and see him again. At this point, of course, his intentions became obvious. Myrna had a turkey sandwich in her backpack, and Mr. Goat wanted it. Also, some cherries would be nice.
We reached the top at 12:30. That's just enough time to sit down and cool off before entering the cave. Of course, the cave is about 50 degrees. So you cool off (we were sweat-e), then chill all that sweat in a clammy, cold, stone box. Good thing everyone had a jacket.
The cave tour takes an hour - and boasts amazing formations - then you're carefully picking your way back down that crazy hill. Maybe it makes me a bad person, but there's something deliciously smug about walking downhill while everyone else struggles past on the way up.
*All photos by Joel.