Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to celebrate — so we went to the Oregon Caves National Monument — literally, into the earth. It turned out to be the perfect way to celebrate the treasure that is our planet.

Located in the Klamath-Siskiyou mountains, the caves were discovered in 1874 by a man named Elijah Davidson, whose dog ran into the cave in pursuit of a bear. Being very devoted to his favorite dog, Davidson followed him into the cave … without enough matches to find his way out again.

We got a sense of what it must’ve been like for him in there: It’s a steady, chilly 44 degrees inside the caves year-round, and it’s slippery, wet, slimy, and incredibly eerie (and that’s with a flashlight, so I can’t even imagine the ghostly effects of firelight). The park ranger turned off the lights a couple of times so we could stand in utter darkness, the silence complete except for the sounds of dripping or running water. It was surreal to be in the middle of a mountain, nearly 300 feet from the ground above us. The water running through the cave, by the way, eventually finds its way to the Pacific Ocean — a salmon-friendly, unobstructed link to the ocean.

We took a ton of photos, so I’ll share a few (the ones that aren’t blurry or don’t have water droplets obstructing the lens). Here’s a photo of “moon milk” — love the heart shape:

And I love this photo of what looks like some prehistoric creature — somehow quite appropriate for when you’re this deep in a cave:

And, finally, here’s a photo from the room called Angel Falls, where plant debris containing fulvic acid has been deposited onto the cave walls by the water flow — and when backlit turns this gorgeous luminescent blue:

And this is only the briefest of tours — learn more at the Oregon Caves web site — better yet, visit if you can.

Oh, and there was a happy ending for the cave’s founder: Davidson and his beloved dog both made it out safely — and the monument was established in 1909.