Jesse Murch

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Day 5 - Craters of the Moon

 The morning was calm when i awoke, and the campsite was still and quite, it was shortly after sunrise so i was the first up and climbed out of the tent, a quick survey found Kayla had made it through unscathed as where Mike hadn't, his tent a sad mess lay flat on the ground soaking in water and upon a quick hunt i found I'm sleeping heavily in the driver seat of the car in full rain attire. I took a brisk walk around the grounds trying to familiarize myself with the alien terrain wee found ourselves in before returning to the campsite and waking everyone up. Since only our tents had been set up we were collapsed and off to explore the park within minutes. The park was a result of multiple volcanoes going off at once and essentially melting each other and creating a black solidified magma dessert. The rocks were sharp and jagged and because other flowing nature when solidified created many caverns and tunnels throughout. 

The park was small but intricate, we found ourselves wandering through this black landscape photographing while we went, we came to a trail head and after a quick conversation with a more the helpful park ranger we were pointed in the direction of some massive caverns and told to self guide ourselves throughout them, as we are ones for the trail less traveled we hustled down the path. A mile or so in we found our selves at a vast hole in the ground, below our feet would be the tunnels we would soon be exploring, helping each other climb down we made our way onto the first chamber, it was about eight feet in diameter and high enough to bend down and walk around in, the next chamber was wider but shorter and required a golem esq walk. Finally towards the back wall of this chamber a small whole the size of one of us led down to another opening this one took a little more time and grace to avoid the sharp rocks pointing at your face and back but once in felt as though you discovered something secretive and special. The air inside was cool and calm, light rays peaked in through cracks around the walls, we sat and took it for a few moments laughing and discussing the journey in. Climbing back out proved to be more difficult then in shortly with all of us sustaining some sort of cut or scrape, but nevertheless we made it out and walked a cliff edge to a very large chamber about thirteen or so feet high and here is where we photographed Kayla once again before being flushed out by new explores of the cave. 

The Road looped around the park as to make sure you see everything before leaving and the last spot on the road before exiting was a remaining volcano peak, the parking lot it its base left you feeling quite small gazing toward the sky. The entire mountain and trail up was covered in black sand like rocks and climbed steeply, the sweat poured down our faces as we peaked. Atop you could see a full panoramic view of the park we had just explored, while disappointingly there was no gapping whole into a fiery pit of lava there was a pleasant twisted tree on the peak providing much needed shade and a place to sit and rest before heading back down. 

Cave master Mike

Kayla in the cave

It was about mid day at this point and we still had a few hours before reaching the southwestern gates of Yellowstone so we thought it best to jump in the jeep and get onto the highway. The hours went by quickly and before we knew it we were talking to the ranger at the gate about what to see in the time we had left before the sun set. During this exchange we also were informed that all the campsites throughout the entire park had been booked and we would have to leave the park and find a hotel for the night at dusk. Not wanting to venture to far in knowing every mile we drive we would have to drive back shortly we pulled off at a wide river and took in some scenes of the mountains and setting sun while we could. We found a lodge ten minutes from the gates that had one open room for the night so we bunked up and after showering and editing we all set in for a good nights sleep and awaiting the next day of exploring americas first national park.