Fort Stanton Cave, 13 Mar 2017 · Index · El Malpais, Junction & Xenolith Caves, 26 Aug 2017

Trip Report: Lava Tube Search, 20 May 2017

NMT Caving Club

Trip leader: David Hunter

Attending: Dustin and Jessie

Sometimes, if you want to do more caving, you just need to go and find another cave. Searching for a cave can be a long and frustrating process taking many trips as well as working closely with landowners. Sadly the NMT Caving Club has not done much cave searching of late, but we did manage one trip. Having heard of possible lava tubes we proceeded to an undisclosed location to try and find them. Of course, the problem with searching for lava tubes is that you get to spend the day hiking across frozen lava. In New Mexico. In the summer.

An old lava flow in which to search for caves.

The hike out across the old lava flow is difficult. If the giant cracks don't get you the cacti & yucca will.

Hiking out across the lava flow.

The cholla cacti were in bloom. Enjoying the flowers was a nice break from being shredded by the cacti.

A cholla cactus in full bloom.

Other cacti were in bloom as well. Small cacti like this provided something to trip over while avoiding the larger cacti.

Small cacti in bloom.

Many of the cracks are large enough to climb around in and explore. They can be some fun on their own. And a nice source of shade in an otherwise roasting landscape.

Inside one of the cracks in the old lava flow.

We arrived at a large sink of which a possible cave was reported. The size of the sink suggests a potential for huge lava tubes.

An old sink in the lava flow.

The lava tube forms as the surface of a flow hardens and the molten lava continues to flow underneath. When the source of lava stops, parts of the tube solidify into solid rock. Other parts of the tube sometimes drain leaving behind a cave which might or might not collapse. Our goal was to search several collapses in hopes of finding a cave entry.

Exploring around inside the old sink.

We tried to check every possible lead. Of course, the vase majority of leads go nowhere, just as the majority of trips searching for new caves do not deliver.

A caver checking a potential cave entry.

Searching for caves requires carefully checking every nook and cranny in the area. This mostly involves crawling around between various large, sharp, rocks.

Checking the side of the sink.

We checked numerous sinks, both large and small.

A small sink.

As we hiked back to the cars, the yucca watched contentedly having extracted their blood price from the cavers foolish enough to intrude on their domain.

A yucca growing on the old lava flow.

Fort Stanton Cave, 13 Mar 2017 · Index · El Malpais, Junction & Xenolith Caves, 26 Aug 2017

Last Updated: Dec 2017; Original Posting.

© David C. Hunter, 2017

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