Thursday morning I had planned to make biscuits and gravy. Unfortunately, I had never tested the oven in my camper and was unable to get it to light. We improvised and my brother baked the biscuits in the dutch oven over a morning fire while I made the gravy with bits of sausage left over from the previous morning.
For our morning task, we went back to the start of the easement to finish off a stump that needed leveling. This was a quick job as I had done most of it before I ran out of gas on the previous trip. With my newly-acquired tow strap, we hooked my truck to the three trees I had fallen, and drug them back to camp. This served to plow up some boulders while simultaneously dragging the road with branches. We laid them close by to cure for future firewood.
Next, we scoured the property to find all of the remaining markers, and install flagging ribbon markers to visualize the boundaries. With work completed for the morning, we went to discover a cave one of the locals had told my brother about.
Pluto’s Cave is an obscure landmark signified by white letters spray-painted on a telephone pole. We did find it, thanks to my sister-in-law’s spotty data coverage on the trip ~30 miles south. We discovered a primitive parking lot, trails, and the driest, most unforgiving heat we had encountered yet.
A short walk produced a depression in the ground that we climbed down into. With a well-written blog as our guide, we ignored the cave on the left, and proceeded westerly beneath an archway. On the other side we found a lush oasis springing up within the sheltering walls leading into the cavern. Green foliage provided a nice respite from the brutal sun, with birds chirping undisturbed by our arrival.
As we stepped into the mouth of the cave, cool air flooded over us, and we stopped to soak it up. Flash lights at the ready, we ventured into the unknown. The cave floor was very dusty, covered in years of material fine enough to ride in on the wind. The blog had warned us that (once inside) air flow was limited, and to avoid shuffling or dragging your feet.
We navigated our way in the semi-darkness over large boulders, admiring the immense size, markings, and graffiti left from visitors over the years. Over half-way through the tunnel was a collapsed section of the ceiling which poured out sunlight from the outside world, illuminating the fine dust particles.
At the end of the cave, the little ones found a nice kid-sized nook to go in, where they claimed to get brain freezes. Alas, I couldn’t reproduce the symptoms. It was here the kids noticed all the rodent droppings we had been walking on. We decided to make our way back, and explore the other cave we had passed earlier. We took our time, admiring the vast cavern, and savoring the cool atmosphere.
The other cave was less impressive in sight and size. With less air-flow, however, we were treated with an over-powering ammonia-like greeting from the bat guano. Needless to say, we explored it in record time and retreated. My brother ran ahead to start the car and (more importantly) air conditioning.
On the return trip, we saw an excellent photo opportunity, and stopped at a vista overlooking Mt. Shasta. With self-timer activated, we got a group photo with everyone in it.
We were still sticking to our seats by the time we got back to town, and needed to stop for ice before returning to camp. Much to our surprise and delight, the awesome Uncle procured a pack of Klondike Bars for the ride home.
Being our last night in camp, we started packing & had an easy dinner of hot/chili dogs roasted over the fire. Saving the best for last, I whipped up a batch of peach cobbler in my dutch oven, complete with whipped cream.
Come back for Part 5 where we visit Crater Lake on our way home!