Friday, June 13, 2014

A Hike and a Cave Unexplored

June 6

A dim sunrise and the roar of water crashing through Tongue River Canyon are our alarm clock this morning.  Flowers nod heavily with dew and pugs get in from their morning "business" entirely saturated. 

 It isn't exactly raining here.  It is more like wetting.  We are in an evergreen rainforest as clouds pile up on the eastern side of the Bighorn Mountains, unable to go anywhere. 

The river is fast and angry here and we are concerned about flash flooding.  

In town, I ask the lady at the post office about the water level in the area and she tells me that it has actually gone down since the beginning of the week.  

It is clear that the sun will not be making an appearance today so we may as well just go hiking.

Hubs grew up hearing these called Indian Tinkertoys.  They are also called Horsetail Grass and are fun to pull apart and fit back together.
Mists shroud the mountain sides...

... veiling hoodoos and rock bridges.

At the end of the dirt road, a trail runs into the woods.

Pines huddle densely on these slopes.

Our trail consists of many steep switchbacks, some aided by manmade steps which themselves are toppling off the mountainside. 

We are looking for a cave but stumble across a wall of brightly colored rock first.

Finally we come to the cave and discover that a band of troglodytes with spray paint and a penchant for smoking roam these hills.  According to Wikipedia, the cave once housed many rare formations, but due to the bands of knuckle-draggers, it is now beyond preservation and has been deemed a "sacrificial" cave, given over to further vandalism, chain smoking, and spray paint. 

It really does stink terribly of cigarettes and we don't have a strong desire to explore it with an unreliable flashlight, so we move on.

Back at camp, our car is nearly unrecognizable.  

But mud is a badge of honor, proving we went someplace interesting.

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