In the summer of 2014, I was lucky enough to get a job as a ranger with the National Park Service. Rangers do lots of different things, but my primary function was to lead tours through the Timpanogos Cave System — a small network of extremely well-decorated caverns perched high in the Wasatch outside Provo, Utah.
The Discipline Of Caving
One of the best things about work like this is all the learning you have to do. After all, if you’re going to be escorting thousands of people into the pitch dark bowels of the Earth, you’d better be prepared to answer a huge array of questions, especially questions related to the complex processes intersecting to create such a natural wonder. It was at Timpanogos Cave National Monument that I first became enthralled by the geological sciences.
It was also here that I became introduced to the discipline of caving. (Turns out only the uninitiated use the term, “spelunking.”) Though I’ve not done a lot of wild caving yet, I’m excited to be getting into it more and more thanks to generous help from members of the Sandia Grotto — my local National Speleological Society chapter.
A Final Terrestrial Frontier
One of the reasons caving is so exciting to me is that it’s potentially a means to go into places no humans have ever seen before. New cave passage is being found all the time. Heck, entirely new cave systems are still being found.
What’s more, speleology — the science of caves — is still in a relatively nascent phase in its development. Cave scientists are fond of saying we know more about outer space than we do about the voids in the Earth’s crust beneath our feet. This is certainly a bit hyperbolic, but it speaks to the fact that there’s still so much we don’t know about what’s going on down there.
In other words, if you want to make bonafide discoveries, caves are the places to do it. Needless to say, I’m stoked to be back in New Mexico, where spectacular caves can be found in abundance. You can bet I’ll be recording my subterranean adventures in 2015.
(Today’s photo is courtesy of Natalie Rae Good’s Tumblr. It’s a sample of the amazing decorations found in the Timpanogos Cave System.)