Naica Mine & Cave of the Crystals · Index · El Malpais, Mar 2016

Trip Report: Robinson's Cave

NMT Caving Club, March 5th 2016

This trip report covers a NMT Caving Club (AKA New Mexico Tech Student Grotto) to Robinson's Cave. We met on campus at 8:30AM in the morning, went caving, and returned just after 6PM.

Trip leader: David Hunter

Attending: Rebecca and Matt

Robinson's Cave is located in the Black Range to the west of T or C. A call to the local Forest Service Office a few weeks before the trip verfied that the cave is no longer closed due to WNS, though normal decontamination procedures should be followed.

Between the drive on the interstate, awhile on a winding highway, and then a long dirt road, it took about two and a half hours to reach the parking area. Everybody was happy to hop out of the cramped jeep and get ready to move.

Parked and getting ready to go.

It is a bit of a hike from the car to the cave. The old parking area was a little closer, but it turned out that it was on private property. Some years ago the property owner got tired of random people partying & leaving a mess on their land and closed it off. Now they have now seem to be building a house and ranch there. Now you have to park on the ridge and hike around the private property to get to the cave, though it does not actually take much longer. This appears to have substantially reduced the number of irresponsible spelunkers that were damaging the cave.

The area is nice to hike in, and the canyon below provides several pools to rinse off after caving. During warmer times they are also good for swimming.

A view of the area.

This was Rebecca and Matt's first caving Trip. Thankfully the strong support the club receives from the NMT Sports Club Program allows the club to provide not only the essential helmets and 3 independent light sources, but also gloves, knee pads, and cave packs.

The entry is typical for a New Mexico Cave: dry, dusty, and full of flies.

Entry to Robinson's Cave

Unfortunately, the sign at the entry regarding 36 CFR 261.9 A&B failed to deter the vandals. Some of the signatures appear to have been written with carbide lamps and probably predate both the 1981 passing 36 CFR as well as modern cave conservation ethics. But most of them are clearly modern and unacceptable damage to the cave.

Graffiti in Robinson's Cave

There are a few nice rooms in Robinson's Cave. They are not very large, but are large enough to walk around a bit.

Long ago the cave must have had plenty of good formations. Most of them were broken and/or covered in mud over the years; another result of careless spelunkers. But there are still a few worth appreciating.

Some formations that are mostly intact.

With the recent reduction in traffic some formations are starting to recover. New flowstone can be seen on top of this one. With care, the cave might regain its former beauty over the next few thousand years.

A small formation that is slowly recovering.

This mud head was there when I first visited the cave in the early 2000s. It used to change every few years, but this trip it looks like it did when I was last here. Another indication that the cave is seeing fewer spelunkers. A restoration trip may be now be worthwhile.

A large head sculpted out of mud

A caver in training. Not only do I seem to have gotten Rebecca hooked on caving, but I also got her hooked on peanut butter / espresso milkshakes. Her parents may never forgive me for what I did to their innocent 18 year old college freshman...

After exiting the cave it is clear why a clean change of clothing was strongly recommended...

After exiting the cave we took a bit of time to look around for nearby Cactus Cave but did not find it. We will need to look again when we have more time.

On the drive back we attempted to get milkshakes in Hillsboro but the only place selling them closed at 3PM! Thankfully we found some good ones on the way back through T or C. Maybe we should ask the school to cover milkshakes for each caver after every successful trip?

Naica Mine & Cave of the Crystals · Index · El Malpais, Mar 2016

Last Updated: December 2017; Updated links for Buckman Cave posting.

© David C. Hunter, 2016
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