Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Oregon Caves...a Glorious Hole in the Ground

As the legend goes, a man chasing a bear in Southern Oregon first found the Oregon Caves. The hunter, out with his dog on, trudging through woods about ten miles away from Williams, Oregon, watched as his dog chased a bear into a small opening into the side of a hill. He followed in after some time lighting matches along the way until all his matches were gone.  Well, eventually he was stuck in complete darkness, with a bear in a cave, and well...This is what he would have seen if he had electric lights.

Oregon has its share of natural wonders; Multnomah Falls, Crater Lake, Gresham, all rank as places of unique beauty. But I think the Oregon Caves must be the most spectacular site of them all. Stalagmites and stalactites still hang in their frosty, drippy, alien-like form as they have for centuries. 

Of course man has made his mark on this geological formation. The odd scribbles here are the names of students and of a geology professor who visited the cave in the 1930s. Mineral deposits have coated the names over the past decades leaving a preserving glaze over this mark. 

As for the hunter, he managed to find a shaft of light that eventually led to his escape from the three miles or so of passages in the cave. There he also found his dog waiting for him. Given that there were two ways out that the hunter knew of, he decided to set up camp and wait for the bear which eventually came out of the cave and was shot.

So the moral of the story...If you follow a bear into a cave bring a riffle. That and the Oregon Caves are worth visiting.
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