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Timpanogos Caves

Last weekend Jon’s parents were visiting and so we took them up to the Timpanogos Caves.  The walk to the cave is a bit intense with an over 1,000 ft elevation gain in 1.5 miles, but it’s completely worth the hike.  In the picture below you can see the entrance to the cave.

From the top you can see quite a view.

The caves were amazing.  First, a story of their discovery.  Martin Hansen discovered the cave when he was 74 years old and tracking a cougar.  Hansen estimated that the drop into the cave was 70 feet so he and his friends brought a 70 ft rope.  Well, it turns out that the drop was 110 ft and Hansen had to fall the 40 feet, resulting in a twisted ankle.  So this 74 year old man had to sit in a cave in the dark until his friends got a bigger rope.  That is hardcore.

Before going into the cave I knew that stalactites came from the top of the caves and stalagmites are deposits on the bottom.  Now I know so much more!  First off, minerals combine with water and drip off of the caves, creating deposits.  Cave formations are referred to as speleothems.

The mineral deposits can form different shapes and have different colors depending upon the type of mineral.  My favorite shape was called a helictitie, which simply refers to a type of speleothem (i.e. cave formation) where the axis changes from vertical to another direction during formation.  The Timpanogos Cave has one of the largest collections of helictites.  This shape is called a curly fry.

The guide referred to this section as looking like coral, i.e. a coral reef.

She called this part cave popcorn.

With regard to color, this deposit has copper.

And this one has iron.

The guide said that this one looked like burnt marshmellows.

The tour was great.  They offer a more intensive tour where you crawl around with a head lamp.  We’ll do that next year.  I can’t wait!



One Response to “Timpanogos Caves”

  1. Tiffany says:

    I like seeing the pictures inside the cave – amazing, however I think you’re crazy for wanting to don a headlamp and crawl around! Nuts!

    Cute picture of you two.