Friday morning was breezy and low 50's in White's City. Carlsbad Caverns sit at the northern edge of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and the 7 mile road up to the Caverns twisted and climbed up through the mountains.
You can see 90% of the Caverns on a self-guided tour. There's two self-guided options... "The Big Room" where you take an elevator down 900 feet then do a loop of the Caverns, or "The Natural Entrance" where you enter the original hole-in-the ground, hike down 900 feet over about a mile, then do "The Big Room" loop and elevator back up.
I like my caves like I like my cheap beer. Natural. The Natural Entrance it is...
Now, I admit I have been a little less physically active over the last few weeks as my normal routine but I assessed my hiking fitness and decided to go for it.
I started on the row behind this group of four. Ended up catching the two gals going into the downhill 180, dove to the inside, braked late, elbows up, and made the pass. The gal on the left had low heels on... wrong rubber for this track, I doubt she made it. I caught the two guys on an uphill ledge section... I doubled a couple of them and ran right between for the pass. In the clear and ready to lead this party into the tunnel.
This is the original entrance that the indians and then the first explorers used to enter the cave. Not exactly hidden...
I may not have investigated the mystery hole in Clifton, but I'm all in on this one.
I'm in... the backside of the hole. Kinda like the darkside of the moon, but not. In the summer, every night thousands of bats fly out to go feed in southern New Mexico and Texas.
I enjoy caves and have been through several and can say without question that this was the best I've been in. Spectacular and other-worldly. If you come anywhere close to the Caverns, you really owe it to yourself to stop and if you're physically able, definitely do the Natural Entrance. You get a great feel for how deep into the mountain you are descending and you see a lot of cave you'd miss just doing The Big Room. The hike down is a mile and goes down 900 feet. Feels like you're doing a shallow squat the entire time. Really gives your quads a work out. The scale and magnitude of everything actually made me dizzy a couple of times. Once you get to the Big Room, it's about 1 1/4 mile around. Think about that for a bit. The main room in the cave is over a mile around. 600,000 square feet. 16 football fields. Awesome. It's what I'd imagine walking on another planet would be like. The Girlfriend would love it so we might have to find a way to come back someday.
No pictures from inside the cave because there's just no way they'd do anything justice. You'll just have to trust me and go see it for yourselves.
Nice view of the valley from the parking lot though...
Done with my hike for the day, time to ride. As I had planned out my route for the day, it seemed like trying to end up around Abilene was the best bet for getting some miles in and still being able to find a place to stay.
Whole lotta open range and high speed straight roads with a few small towns thrown in. Did ride by a salt lake with a salt mining operation running on it.
Have a thing for old gas stations and have done a great job not stopping and taking all sorts of pics, but liked this restored station in Snyder, TX.
Going all the way to Abilene would actually have taken me a little south of where I was running so was happy to find a nice place to stay in Anson, TX. Rode out to Peacock's BBQ. Busy place with lots of families out having Friday night dinner. Went with the Cowboy Brisket Bowl. Chopped brisket, cowboy beans, and cheese. Great brisket. If I was doing it again I'd go with a sandwich or platter. The cornbread was superb and sweet talked my way into two pieces before I was done.
321 mile day. Surpassed 6000 miles for the trip. 692.5 miles to Home as the crow flies...