The small but lovely Aerial Cave.
One find Wednesday last winter I was out with our local Audubon catching up on some fine Oregon birds when we stumbled on this small cave.
Since it was bat closure season and I didn't really know what cave this was, I assumed it was closed, was truly obnoxious and ran everyone out. (They really weren't INSIDE, but headed that way.)
This last September I decided before the bat closures began again, I would try to find it.
Out I went with my trusty sidekick Eric (my future son-in-law.) on a Sunday morning.
Now, here's the deal.
I had been out with birders. That means we wander around the forest heads up in the trees and look for birds. If we see one, we just head off like dogs with our nose to the ground paying little attention to where we are going.
Now I want to go find a cave I saw almost a year ago in a very large forest, while running around randomly chasing birds.
First we drove 17 miles down what I decided was the wrong road. (It was. Okay, part of it was.)
Eventially through some other trial and error we did end up on the right forest road. A really bad one, and I was borrowing my husband's mini van while my 4x4 was in the shop.
There was a lot of ugly noises underneath and some screeching by Eric about rolling the thing.
Finally, I gave up....
Going back down the road I spotted a woodpecker. Since I knew this was woodpecker area I decided the day should not be a total loss and I told Eric to grab his camera. We must have gotten 100 ft off the road and stumbled upon....
.....Yep. THE CAVE.
Aerial Cave is a fairly short (guessing 150 ft) long with two entrances. This panorama was done with a wide angle lens so it makes it look a lot more curved than it is.
We went in the west entrance because it is a larger hole (and we didn't know there was another one.
Overall, the walls are smooth and lovely so I was surprised when I found this gnarly bunch of rocks about half way down the passage on one side.
Of course, I had to crawl up in there and see if there was another passage.
Which there was! And....it was blowing up icy cold air.
I decided I really wanted to go down there and see if there was a chamber. The passage was a little wider than me so it was going to be a head first thing. I checked it out feet first to begin with and it was going to be pretty tight.
Here's where my brain actually fired up and said.
"While you are not caving alone, Eric is not a caver. It's possible Eric doesn't even know where we are in the forest.
You only THINK there might be something down there. You could go hundreds of feet and have to try and back out, or get stuck."
Damn. Damn that common sense. I WANT TO KNOW! But..I guess not quite bad enough to be completely stupid. Especially when you know someone and could at least ask first if it's worth it.
I went back out and photographed some more of Aerial Cave.
The next morning I woke up thinking of all the ways that could have gone so horribly wrong.
#1 Had the car keys in her pocket. Thus leaving Eric with a long hike out should he need to get me help.
#2 Who was wearing a t-shirt and was heading in to a place where I could be very cold and stuck.
#3 Who had no extra granola bars on her. (Low level diabetic).
#4 Who would have had her cell phone jammed in her back pocket against the wall of the lava tube inaccessible (extra light if nothing else)
#5 Had a crappy headlamp and a hand held flashlight.
Uh huh. Practice safe caving people.
*Note* My source, who was the one who told me that this was Aerial Cave, said there is a cavern back there so I will go with experienced cavers some day :)
(I KNEW IT....I KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING DOWN THERE!!!!)
I will be back to visit the beautiful Aerial Cave.