Yesterday we went to Natural Bridge Caverns, in the hill country between Austin and San Antonio. The natural bridge was formed when a sinkhole appeared, leaving the natural bridge on this photo, and the entrance to the caves.
Click on any of the photos to see them full-size.
Before we entered the caves, the guide told us we might see some wildlife, but I didn’t actually expect any. One minute later, still on the steps, we saw this beautiful little eastern black-necked garter snake. It was no longer than 18 inches and it had just eaten something. It was the only critter we saw on the tour.
Photos don’t ever do caverns justice, but I took a bunch, anyway. The scale can never be captured. Even if you were to take a picture with someone standing next to one of these pillars (which isn’t possible), you still wouldn’t really get an idea of the height and depth.
Many of these pillars are size and height of palm tree trunks.
I made sure I was at the front of the crowd, so I could take pictures without a lot of people in the way. The downside of that is, that on narrow paths, I felt rushed, so I didn’t take any leisurely detail shots. Next time I’ll be in the back.
The caverns were beautifully lit, and all the lights were placed carefully out of sight. The colors depend largely on what kind of flash you’re using, but either way, I can never get enough of all the different hues.
This one is called the throne of the giant king, but I thought it looked like enormous stone jellyfish. Especially when you just come around the corner, they look like they’re floating.
The idea that a square inch of cave formation takes a century to grow is just mind-boggling. Vertically, the picture on the left covers about twenty feet.
These formations are relatively young. The tallest stalactite is maybe three feet high.
The exit was at the top of a cavern that was the length of a football field, and about 350 feet tall. This is looking down into it.
It was 103 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and I had been looking forward to going into the caverns, because they are always cool. These were 70 degrees, but with 99% humidity, it felt more like a sauna. I had to clean my glasses constantly, because they never stopped fogging up. Many of my pictures were therefore a bit of a guess, but I’m happy with the results.
It’s strange what your mind does in caves. I could easily have spent several more hours down there, taking more detailed pictures, taking my time trying different settings. But when we were going up the last tunnel, the very first hint of daylight suddenly made me realize how deep down in the earth I had been, and I couldn’t wait to get out.
I never thought I’d be glad to be back out in 103 weather, but the much dryer heat, combined with a light breeze on my totally soaked skin and clothes, felt absolutely wonderful.
I can’t stand saunas. I hate to sweat, and, being menopausal, I get hot if the temperature is higher than 60 degrees. Yet I would do this again tomorrow. It was spectacular.