Oh, I know - other peoples' vacation photos - is there anything more torturous?
Well, lucky you - one day I didn't take ANY pictures AT ALL!!
But we're not there yet. So for now...
SUCH a cool place! It was definitely my favorite part of the trip.
You can read the history of Lost River on the Lost River website - go take a minute to do that; it's pretty interesting.
Okay, now wasn't that interesting?
Off we go - down the wooden stairs and across the wooden platforms and into the cool world within the mountain....
Bad shot of the sign - I didn't think to take it til I was nearly underneath.
Here we go, down one of the many wooden staircases into the gorge.
Isn't this awesome???
The best part was the lower we went, the cooler - and less humid - the air temperature was. I could spend all of August down there and be perfectly happy.
One of the many waterfalls throughout the journey.
It's funny - the entire trail is only 3/4 of a mile, but it seems so much longer because of the temperature changes and climbing up and down to different levels.
Okay, now here's a cool map I found - you can also find it on the Lost River website if you want to. Either way, you'll need to click on it to be able to read it better. But it's the map of the whole trail and all the little caves you can explore along the way.
We're starting over there on the right...
Oh, and I don't know what the A, B and C stand for with regard to the caves. Maybe difficulty? The tightest cave to get into is called the Lemon Squeezer (we'll get there later)...so maybe A is most difficult, and C is least? Not sure. Couldn't find an answer on the website either. Hm.
Okay, so each little cave has a name. I should have taken a picture of each of the signs, but I got distracted by the actual caves.
Here's the first one we came to - Sun Altar.
Each sign explains and describes the paths into and out of the cave and how they came to be named.
And in we go...
Long ago, when I was a kid, and a tomboy, my sister and my best friend and I (and, later, another friend and a cousin) formed a little club called the WRIFCD's, which later became simply the WRIFD's. The initials stood for our hometown (W), our state (RI) and Female Cycling Daredevils. Because we could all ride our bikes with no hands and no feet, or stand on the little bar thingy down the center while going downhill, and do wheelies over the big spot in the road where this HUGE tree's roots had pulled the asphalt up into a small hill. We were IT, baby.
We later changed the name to simply Female Daredevils, because of course we were so badass that we didn't just become would-be circus performers on our two-wheelers. No, we also climbed some trees and created obstacle courses in our backyards that involved climbing, and jumping from high places, and crawling in the dirt under things.
We had a list of bylaws, one of which was something to the effect that, as a member of the WRIFD's, one did not cry if they got hurt, even if there was blood. Even if we fell off a roof. We never went up on any roofs, but that wasn't the point.
Anyway, climbing around in these caves - yes, on my hands and knees or on my stomach, even - took me back to those brave days of my youth. I was, once again, a badass tomboy to be reckoned with. I didn't bleed or get hurt, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have cried if I had. It was too much fun, wiggling through rocks and damp moss, to cry.
I would recommend, however, if you're going to be all badass like me, that you either don't bring a camera bag - even a small one - because it adds bulk and really, the less stuff you tote around the better. If I had a smaller camera - or even a waterproof one - I might have brought that instead. It would have been a tad easier. But still - with one exception, I managed to creep and crawl everywhere.
So many cool things to see, too.
Like this root slithering across a rock. Looks a bit like a snake, doesn't it?
And these elves, who kept hanging out with us the whole time. Where do they come from, and how do they keep finding us??
They had a blast, these two. Especially Alex. Julia was a bit leery of one or two areas, but overall she had fun.
The next picture features a granite formation called "Wolf Rock." If you blur your eyes a bit when you look, you can see, sort of, the profile of a wolf.
Here we go, into another cave. That's my shadow.
And just so you know, I'm REALLY annoyed at myself for not taking a picture of the little framed picture and description thingy before each cave. REALLY ANNOYED.
So annoyed, in fact, that I think we should head back up there VERY SOON so I can take those pictures like I should have done the first time. Oh, Bill?
I loved these little things growing up out of the moss. They made me think of little alien creatures. I don't know why. That's just how my brain works.
That's why I took two pictures of them.
There were also lots and lots of gorgeous birch trees, too. All sorts of cool life forms.
And more caves...
I really like this next one. (Of course, isn't this entire blog one great big show-and-tell?)
One of the many nice things about this little vacation was the absence of electronic entertainment. And the kids really didn't miss any of it, either. They were way too busy exploring and swimming and climbing and finding bugs.
Another good thing was we took the trip AFTER Julia's initial haircut. No long hair caught in low branches or getting stuck to her sweaty face during all this.
Look at my little girl go. She'd defintely be allowed to become a WRIFD.
And now we come to The Lemon Squeezer.
This is the only cave I didn't go into, mainly because of this:
Yes. The dreaded Squeezer Guage.
Basically, if you can't squeeze through that little space, you won't be able to squeeze through the cave openings ahead. This gives you a chance to change your mind early, rather than end up like Winnie-the-Pooh stuck in Rabbit's rabbit hole, with people on either end of you either pushing or pulling, and you - going nowhere but into a depth of embarrassment you'd never know before.
At least that was how I imagined it.
So I didn't even attempt the Squeezer Guage.
I blamed my camera bag. Too bulky. It wasn't. I was just too afraid I'd get stuck.
Alex, Bill and Julia headed in, with Alex in the lead.
Did I mention he loved these caves?
I moved up a few stairs and looked down as they went through the first couple of squeezes.
Bill got his shoe stuck right around here, but that was his only mishap. And he pulled the shoe free.
Here comes Miss J.
She went partway in here, but then changed her mind when she saw how dark it was ahead.
So she hung out with me while the boys got Squeezed.
Part way through, they emerged in this open area, where I could look down and they could look up. The next section was also narrow and they had to wiggle, snake-like, on their bellies to get through. I heard Alex, who was in the lead, tell Bill "Dad, you're not gonna like this one!" He had somehow gotten the (mistaken) impression that Bill wasn't having fun with all the crawling and climbing. It became funny - no matter how much Bill insisted he WAS having fun, Alex kept pointing out every new crawlspace with a mixture of glee and forboding. No idea why, but it was entertaining.
Here's Julia smiling/grimacing for the camera while Alex and Bill were below.
She told me to take a picture of the leaves, so I did.
Finally, they emerged, first Alex (of course),
And then Bill.
And you know what? I probably could have done the Lemon Squeeze.
My hips are much bigger in my head than they are on my body, I suspect.
And you might be thinking "Oh, no, not ANOTHER cave??"
But if you were there, I don't think you would be thinking that. All the caves were small - just funky closets to go in and out of. And there were always more people coming along behind you, so it wasn't like you'd stop and have a picnic in one of them anyway. You just go in, and come back out.
Look - it's me again.
We actually didn't go into all the caves (or almost all, in my case and Julia's) - there was one that was closed.
Depending on the rainfall, one or more of the caves might be closed because of this danger. I'm kind of reminded of Trixie Belden #...13? No, #11 - The Mystery of Bob-White Cave. Where I was first introduced to the term "spelunking," and where, if I remember right, Trixie is stuck in a sinkhole in a cave, and the water is rising...rising...!!! Gasp!
Back to NH.
And on to the next picture. Something damp and green and wormy-looking.
This next spot isn't a cave. It's a piece of rock hanging down, looking like it's ready to drop.
The rock feature is called, appropriately, The Guillotine.
And here are a couple of posed picture of my kids.
Oh - and here's a shot of The Guillotine from around the other side. (I know. You were hoping.)
(Almost done, now. Just hang in there.)
At the very end of the trail, there's a nature walk area, which is where the next couple of pictures were taken. Very pretty. But by that point, back up where the air was warm and humid, we were pretty well done with pretty. A little look around and that was enough.
But it was very pretty, nonetheless.
We were hot and hungry and thirsty.
Julia had a few gulps from the trough...(okay, there was a water fountain, Mom. It's not a communal watering hole.)
And on the way out, I snapped a picture of this sign, which I'd missed on the way in.
And then either Bill wanted a picture of the kids in front of the sign, or I did, or Alex wanted to pose in front of it because he's a camera-hogging ham at time...
Whatever the case, Julia didn't want any part of it, but Alex posed for me.
And this (very last, I promise!!) picture cracks me up every time I see it.
LOOK at his face!
Who IS this kid?
Look at his right hand - is he snapping his fingers?
Keeping time to some beat only he can hear?
Is he some very, very junior long-lost member of the Rat Pack?
I don't know who he is or what he's doing.
But he makes me laugh, so that's all that matters.
And that is the end of that day.