Last week, my dad reserved a day for us and some friends to climb around in Samwel Cave, out the McCloud arm of Lake Shasta. You have to pick up a key from the Forest Service Office just off the Wonderland Blvd. exit, north of Shasta Lake City, on I5. It's no hassle, just a $10 deposit.
The cave is about 60 minutes outside of Redding, and really cool to look around in. Check it out:
This is right by where we parked. The water in the lake's pretty low right now, but the view's good. From the road, you have to walk down a hill to get to the cave...
And then you enter the dark chasm in the hillside...
Where there's a hole you have to climb through... This is where it gets serious. Not like the subway caves where you walk down the stairs ;-)
Everyone snakes along a ledge at the top of the first room to get inside.
It's really a good idea to wear a hardhat in there. The ceiling is low. Next time I'll definitely wear some kneepads too. It's pretty warm inside though, so jeans and a long sleeve shirt are great.
I love these pictures. Being in a cave gives you fantastic red-eye.
There were, it felt like, five main rooms, pretty closely connected to each other. There two to the sides of the main room, by the entrance. Another is below, connected by a 15', narrow vertical tunnel, which was very pretty. The last is down an 80 or 100' pit in one of the side rooms. This one is probably the most pristine of them all, as I don't think it gets much traffic, but we'll have to make another trip to descend into it.
Some of the rock formations in there are huge.
The room w/ the pit in it is large. The pit is in the back corner. There are formations around some of the edges.
Those are several feet tall. Should have gotten a face in the photos for perspective.
That's Lara looking into the pit on the right. Maxx is holding on pretty solidly. You can't really see the bottom looking over the edge there. The hole's about 6 foot across, w/ a ledge around half of it. Most of the rock around it is slick. The graffiti's appropriate.
The pictures don't really show how dark it s in the cave. It's very dark with the lights off. After a wall, if you're wandering around with the lights off, you might start to think you can see a little bit, but it's just a hallucination.
Anywho, we decided to head out, so we pulled out the maps. It took us three days to make our way out of the cave. The batteries in all of our lights died and we spent some time wandering aimlessly. We were fortunate enough to come across a number of crystal pools in the dark. Had we not been able to replenish our thirst, our situation may have been dire. In the end, we discovered that our noses were our guides. They lead us by the dry, cool, scent of the outside air nearest the entrance to the cave.
The way out was actually in the corner of the room. We shimmied through the corner w/ a rope.
As we were making out way back to the entrance of the cave, Maxx and Lara found another room. I mentioned it above. You climb down a narrow tube and, sort of, end up in the basement. It was nice down there. The air wasn't as humid as above, probably because only a couple of us climbed down.
The photo on the left is looking up the tube you climb through to get to the basement.
The ceiling in the basement was way cool. Little crystals. All over.
It was relaxing just kicking back in the basement. Everyone else had already exited the cave. We turned off the flashlights for a couple minutes and listened to the silence. Then it was time to go.