When the blazing sun made it too hot for a comfortable hike, we did the logical thing: we went underground.
The cave we visited was set aside as a national monument in 1909. It's a cave of gorgeous marble rocks, with formations carved by running water, with stalactites and stalagmites that formed over thousands of years. Chilly air rushed across my skin as we entered this dim underground environment to spend an hour and a half ducking under rocks and staring at fantastic shapes. The forest ranger who was our guide talked knowledgeably about geology and hydrology, while my teenage sons entertained each other with whispered comments about the phallic shapes they were seeing.
With-a-Why was fascinated by the water dripping from the roof of the cave. "I keep getting kissed!" he kept saying, as a drop would hit his face.
The temperature in the cave stays at 42 degrees Farenheit year around. It's been that way for ... well, since anyone human ever began recording temperatures in the cave. Except recently, it's changed. Over the last ten years, in response to global warming, the temperature in the cave has gone up a degree. As we stumbled out of the cave, relieved to be able to stand up straight, stepping up out of the dark and cold into a gorgeous remnant of an old-growth coniferous forest, I couldn't help thinking about this chilling fact and wondering how many of the beautiful places we've seen on this trip would still be there for my grandchildren.