The California Blog: 2 Million Years Of Crystal Cave

DSC_0055_FotorWe arose early on day two in hopes of getting tickets for a tour of Crystal Cave. If any of you ever get the chance to visit Sequoia, I highly recommend seeing Crystal Cave. We stopped by the Foothills Visitor Center (inside the park) and bought our tickets which cost $15 ea. We were soon back on the Generals Highway ( it’s the road that I mentioned in my last post) and on our way to the Crystal Cave. The dive took us about 45-50 mins.
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We stored our food in a bear safe storage box, and waited a few minutes for our tour to commence.  Before we made our way down a half mile trail to Crystal Cave, we were asked to sanitize our shoes by stepping in a solution of Lysol. This was to prevent White-nose syndrome, a fungus that grows on the face of bats. It has become more popular over the years, wiping out entire colonies of bats. It is a very sad fate that the bats suffer. The half mile trail is a beautiful scenic trail, with a few waterfalls along the way.

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The outside walls of the cave.

Crystal Cave is a marble karst cave. It is one of at least 240 known caves in the park. The cave is a constant 48 °F, which after a 45 min tour, you’ll be grateful that you brought a jacket or sweater.
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During the tour we were told many interesting stories or facts. Amongst the impressive facts we were told, the one that impressed me the most was that the cave is estimated at being 2 million years old. I was completely awestruck. This was my first time inside a cave, but besides that, it was a 2 million year old cave. Think about this, what is the oldest thing you’ve ever seen? Touched? I was inside something that had been around for so long, I only wished I could know all the stories which it hid. What had been inside it before me? I’ll never see anything so old again, and it was magnificent. There aren’t many words I can use to describe how entranced I was by Crystal Cave.
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At one point during the tour we entered a chamber, and were told that all sources of lighting would be turned off so we could appreciate how dark the cave is, and if we could all turn off/ put away anything that would have a light.
I think for the first time in my life I experienced true darkness.

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I raised my hand before my face, and could not see a thing. I blinked a couple times, just to make sure I had my eyes open. How do you describe nothing? I don’t know, but I never experienced such omnipresent darkness. As a result, I became hyper aware of the sounds around me. I could hear water dripping in the distance, then echoing, and realized that we must be in a big chamber. Bigger than the other ones we had previously been inDSC_0157 copy.

When the lights came on, we were greeted with this magnificent chamber. It was, in fact, the largest we had been in.DSC_0193 copy

DSC_0145 copyWhen the tour was over, we made our way up the trail, and back to the car. We were heading to the Congress Trail next. Come back next week to read about it! I’m splitting this day in two parts. I have a lot of pictures and didn’t want to have to cut some out for fear of this post being too long.

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Have you been to a cave before? Let me know in the comments where! I’d love to know. I enjoyed the Crystal Cave so much I’m interested in seeing more caves. 

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An Astounding Rainforest Brimming with Wildlife

DSC_1231DSC_1312      Life has been hectic for the past week, but I’ve finally found some time to dedicate to the blog. It has been incessantly pouring here in the Central Valley and there has been much flooding which is common. What is not common is to see a river suddenly surge. Downriver from the river we visited in one of our posts “A Waterfall Paradise”, a sudden river surge swept a bridge away that connects the Central Valley to the San Carlos plains. This area suffered a major earthquake several years ago and I feel the river’s surge had something to do with it. The people of this area depend on tourism and with all these catastrophes, they have been seriously affected economically.

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This is a type of rodent known as the Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) it is found in Central and South American rain forests.They mainly feed on fruits and seeds, and are important seed dispersers.

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This is also an Agouti(ah GOO tee), but unlike the one pictured above, this is a baby. Usually one to four babies are born in a nest of leaves, roots, and hair.

We visited Carara National Forest about a month and a half ago, before the serious rains set in. Many people pass the forest on their way to Jaco Beach or Manuel Antonio. It’s about a kilometer after the Tarcoles River bridge, whose crocodiles have been featured in several documentaries and everyone stops to gaze on them from the bridge. Not many people visit this forest, but it’s been one of our favorites due to the animals we saw. One word of caution; be prepared to sweat, it’s hot!

I have often wondered what people think when we visit these places, due to the comments they make like “Oh, you did it.” I guess I don´t look like your typical nature lover. I guess we sometimes surprise people with our willingness to adventure and explore. The truth is I love being in touch with nature, but at the end of the day I need a decent room and bed to sleep in. But life wouldn’t be interesting if we weren’t willing to break out of our little bubble, would it?
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Here are some tips when visiting Carara or most any rain forest in Costa Rica.

  • DSC_1283Take sunblock and a hat
  • Insect repellent is a must
  • Take a raincoat, one of those cheap dollar ones that come in a small packet is most practical. In Carara it was so hot we didn’t use them, it would of been like being in a Turkish bath
  • Most national forests give you a map upon entering, but some don’t. There are posted maps at the entrance of those parks who don’t give maps, so a iPod or phone with a camara is handy to take a picture of the map for reference.
  • Wear closed shoes. You want to protect your feet from insects like ants etc.,poisonous plants, and snakes which are abundant and common here. Rubber boots are a good choice.
  • Stay on trails. It is not uncommon for people to get lost in forests here. The day before yesterday two people were rescued from the Braulio Carillo National Park after spending several days there, because the rescue teams couldn’t enter the park due to bad weather.
  • It gets dark very quickly here, so plan accordingly. You don´t want to be stuck somewhere in the dark. Nightfall comes between 5:15 and 6:15 depending on the time of year.
  • Binoculars are good to have to spot animals, birds, and orchids in trees.DSC_1271
    this is the jungle
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Can you spot anything?

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There he is! He’s a baby Cane Toad. You can find many types of frogs at Carara, though! Some of the more well known are the Poison Dart Frogs, or the Milk frog.

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Though it looks like a butterfly, it is actually an Urania Swallowtail Moth (Urania fulgens).

Carara National Forest is handicapped accessible part of the trails have been cemented and do not have any grades to them. I could easily see a person in a wheelchair getting around. It’s a beautiful forest, Agoutis and Scarlett Macaws abound, so if your on your way to the Southern Pacific beaches I would recommend making a stop.

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I’ll be away visiting my family for awhile and my daughter will be doing the writing   and managing part of our blog for me, until then!
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River Rafting Reminiscences and Adventure Racing World Series

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   In the past, I used to river raft until I injured my knee at the beginning of a rafting expedition and wound up almost  drowning in the Pacuare River. I remember the guide saying at a spot in the river where you go through a canyon, “No one wants to fall out in this canyon because we won´t pull you out until the end.” Every time a wave hit the bottom of the raft I could feel a shot of pain go up my leg and I thought,” I´m going to fall out.” And I did fall out, got caught in a whirlpool between the canyon wall and the raft. While I was sucked in the whirlpool, I somehow blindly grabbed the raft´s rope, hung on till a calmer portion of the river and someone pulled me out. All while my knee or foot hit every rock in the river sending severe pains to my knee. Let me note here, I´m not a wimpy sort of person. I had four kids naturally, so my tolerance to pain is high. I finally got home to my husband and children, unable to walk, leaning heavily on my companions. As soon as I was deposited on the sofa and everyone had left, my husband said, “Tricia, what am I going to do if something happens to you?” I had a 6 year old son and 6 month old baby at the time. He was concerned for our children, so for his peace of mind I quit my rafting days. Plus I was soon very occupied with the arrival of our 3rd child.DSC_0417DSC_2581I have meandered from the purpose of writing this blog. For all our adventure seekers the Adventure Racing World Series is being hosted in Costa Rica from Nov 29-Dec 12 2013. If you would like more information here is a link to their website.102_0960DSC_2556We’ve included some pictures of rivers to enjoy.
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