Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Timpanogos Cave - The Art of Nature

Formations inside Timpanogos Cave

The words that come to my mind when I think about Timpanogos Cave are "small" and "delicate."    It isn't really a small cave.  It isn't really one cave at all, but three that are connected.  But Timpanogos does not have large, sweeping chambers like the Minnetonka Cave.  Also, I find the features in Timp cave to be smaller and more delicate looking than those in other caves I have been in.

The tour begins with a look back at the narrow, original opening of Hansen's Cave.  Martin Hansen discovered the first cave in 1887.  In 1921, his son and grandson found Middle Cave, and in 1914, James Gough discovered Timpanogos Cave.  Martin Hansen had to come through this opening and scramble down to the modern entrance area of the cave, when he first arrived over a hundred years ago.

Looking up at the original entrance to Hansen's Cave

Timpanogos Cave is cool and damp.  Bring a sweatshirt to wear inside.  When you go through the narrow passageways, you will be asked to move any packs to the front so they don't scrape the delicate formations.  We were fortunate enough on the day we went to arrive before our scheduled tour time, and as the group ahead of us was small, we were able to enter the cave about half an hour earlier than we expected.

Cave bacon - Timpanogos Cave

Timpanogos Cave has some wonderful examples of "cave bacon," a common cave geologic formation.  On this tour, our guide did not point out the "salt and pepper shakers" that I remember from earlier tours.  These stalagmites look like their namesake, and are the only feature in the cave visitors have been allowed to touch in the past.  I don't know if our guide just focused on different things, or if they no longer feature prominently in the tour.

Cave formations

There is a nice color variance in areas of the cave.  Red colors usually come from the presence of iron in the rock.  Water seeps through the rock and leaves mineral deposits, creating the formations in the cave over thousands of years.

A flow formation in Timpanogos Cave

This "flow" formation is one of the many beautiful features in Timp cave.  It is amazing to see the different types of structures that form on the cave walls and ceilings.  Nature produces an endless variety.  One of the most famous features in Timpanogos Cave is the "heart."

Heart of Timpanogos Cave

Because of the mineral structure of the heart, when the guide turns the lights, the heart actually glows red.  The light shows through the calcium deposit.  This is a popular formation in the cave.  If your guide does not offer to tell you the legend of Timpanogos, ask.  This story fascinated me when I was young, and has not lost its luster years later.  This romantic legend was created in the 1920s, and has added to the cave lore.

The hike to Timpanogos Cave is a mile and a half one-way.  The trail climbs over 1000 feet in elevation gain.

Timpanogos Cave is not open year round.  In fact, this season it closes on October 16, so if you hurry, you can still climb up and see it!  You can find more information about visiting the cave here.  This was definitely a great family activity.  The hike was beautiful, and the cave was definitely worth it!

1 comment:

  1. It was as much fun this time as when I first hiked it as a kid