Date: November 25, 2019
Place: Pluto's Cave, Weed, California
Length: about 2 miles including inside the cave
Level: challenging - involving much rock scrambling. Must take flashlights inside.
I always held fascination with caves, and whenever there is an opportunity I'll happily go into one for exploration. I'm please to say that my chikas share this fascination and are enthusiastic about cave exploration as well.
That said, most of the caves we visited in California were tamed with cemented trails and stairs, electric lights and guided tours. Occasionally we do get to explore a wild cave that hasn't been tamed or capitalized on, and Pluto's Cave is such. It had been on my wanna go there list for quite some time and last November I finally got the chance to go there.
|Pluto's Cave Trailhead|
Late in the afternoon when we started down the trail. The sky was overcast and the air was very cold. We walked briskly, intending to get underground as soon as possible to avoid the cold wind.
|Junipers along the trail|
Pluto's Cave has a spot on the map with a small parking area, a trailhead and an access trail. It even has an entry in the Klamath National Forest website, but that's all. Otherwise, this cave is not managed in any way.
|The Side Arch|
|The Side Arch from inside|
|Pluto's Cave's Entrance|
|Into the Darkness|
|A Window of Light|
|The kids exploring a hole below the path|
Before turning around however, the elder chika noticed a dark spot at the wall and called our attention to it - it was a bat! One of several we've seen in the cave that day, and the nearest one to us. Still, we avoided getting to close to it as to not bother it from its winter hibernation. Pretty exciting though!
|Townsend's Big-eared Bat, in hibernation|
While a few of the graffiti had some sort of artistic merit, most were simply junk. Either way, none of these belong in there and seeing it bothered me greatly.
Soon however, it became difficult to tell where the trail was and more than once I had to navigate cross country in what I knew to be the general direction of the trailhead.
We arrived at the parking area at nearly total darkness. The wind had picked up and the kids were grateful to get inside the car and away from the whipping gusts. I took a few minutes longer to walk around the parking area and take in the wild sights - I don't know when next I'll have the chance to get to that place.
|Juniper at nightfall|