23 March 2006 Thursday

Early this morning we saw Border Patrol pass through the camping area.  I guess we’re still not too far from the border.  

We got started early to get to Kartchner Caverns.  This is a newly discovered cave, first discovered in 1974, but kept a secret for 14 years to protect it.  It was a pristine cave, and no one had ever set foot in it.  The two guys that discovered it had seen too many caves vandalized and formations destroyed by irresponsible cavers and people trying to promote a cave for commercialism.  They worked in secret with the park service to create this park to preserve the cave.  They learned from the mistakes of previous commercial caves.  This is a living cave, water is still flowing and the formations are still growing.  To protect the humidity levels in this very dry climate, we went through 6 doors/airlocks to finally reach the cave formations.  We were even “misted” to reduce the amount of lint that might fall off of us and into the cave.  The cave formations were great, well preserved and clean, not like some we had recently seen at Carlsbad Caverns.  The tickets are a bit expensive, but they are worth it for a pristine cave.  As one of the guys who discovered the cave stated, “It took a day to find it, many years to protect it, and it will take forever to preserve it”.  “This cave is not a renewable resource, it took hundreds of thousands of years to create, once it’s destroyed, it’s gone forever”.  

We moved on to east district of Saguaro National Park, outside of Tucson, AZ.  We did the scenic drive and a short hike into the Saguaros.  These are enormous cactus, easily 20 feet tall.  We finished our hike right around sunset and went out to find some BLM or National Forest to camp on for the night.  We found an area northeast of Tucson and drove up a mountain dirt road.  We found a spot and stopped the truck, only to hear loud music from over the hill.  We got back in and found a party going on right around the corner from us.  We drove further up the road and found lots’ of people camping up here.  We finally found an empty site at the top of the mountain and made camp.  We looked around and saw lots of shell casings and things that people might use as targets.  This is a backwoods shooting range!  Its a shame that this beautiful area overlooking the city lights of Tucson, covered in saguaro cactus, is being trashed by the locals.  

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