Monday, June 6, 2005

After we left the lower Lehman Creek campground this morning, we headed to the park visitor center, located adjacent to the entrance for the park's central feature, Lehman Cave.

Security restrictions in the cave prohibit purses, bags, and the like -- in fact, the only items permitted are cameras, flashlights, and jackets. We wanted to take a 60-minute ranger-led cave tour, but Louise can not stand for that long, and there are no places to sit in the cave. We had quite a negotiation with the rangers to allow us to bring a folding tripod-style stool for her to sit on at the various interpretive stops along the route. After checking with a supervisor, they finally agreed to allow it as a medical necessity.

We're really glad they let us in, because the cave was spectacular. We've been in quite a few limestone caverns, but this one was easily the wettest and the most "highly decorated," as it is called, that we have ever experienced. We saw several types of cave formations we have not seen before, including "shield" formations. Unfortunately, this was also one of the most highly damaged caves we have seen, at least along the tour route. Before the cave came under the protection of the park service, souvenir hunters had broken off many stalactites, and many of the lower formations have been "handled" to the point where they are now dead.

After departing the park, we made a brief stop at the Baker Archeological Site, which is the site of an excavation of 750 year old ruins left behind by the Fremont people. While the excavation has been filled back in, the archeologists have capped the foundation walls above ground, so that one can easily see where all of the structures stood. The self-service interpretive trail guide was quite informative.

From there we once again picked up US 50 east, which in this area is colinear with US 6. 50/6 took us into Delta,UT, where 6 peeled off to the north. We continued a short way on 50 to Utah 125, which took us into Oak City and the turnoff to a forest road leading into Oak Canyon. We are now at the Oak Creek forest service campground in the Fishlake national forest (map).

This is a primitive campground, and the loop road is narrow with low-hanging trees. While we were scoping the area on foot, carrying our trusty tape measure, we ran into the camp host, who told us it would be no problem for us to park in the group area. There are four nice group sites here, and, it being mid-week, they are not in use. So we are parked at Group Site 1, adjacent to Oak Creek, which is a raging torrent at the moment. Come to think of it, I neglected to mention that Lehman Creek (last night) was also a raging torrent, having overrun its banks in the campground area in several places. This has been a very, very wet season.

We are within a day's striking distance of Salt Lake, but MotoSat can't get us in until Thursday. So we will head north from here, staying west of Utah lake, and circle around the hills to the west of the city. That should keep us far from the madding crowd for another day, and we will head in to the metro area on Wednesday.

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