December 06, 2016

Tom Madsen, Ron Davis going to October Gypsum Cave, Arizona
The Parashant is just over 1 million acres of highland desert plateau which is broken up into portions for the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Arizona state land department. There is a lot of history dating back over 20,000 years of habitation, not to mention the geological significance that this region holds is quite fascinating.  
arrowhead found on the ground near October Gypsum Cave, Arizona
We had to miss the first day's activities to Murtuit and Crystal cave but we headed out early evening and followed a way point that I put into Google maps which would turn out to be a "make it up as you keep going" route once we were making our final approach. Back in the paved road and steadily on pedal for around 3 hours, we reached an unassuming road that took us around some houses in the  Colorado city darkness and eventually our tires left the pavement and started rolling over the very nice dirt road.  The upper and lower Parashant appear to have hundreds of miles of dirt roads winding through what the cowboys of the 1800's referred this place to as a flat and lonely plain.
Looking out into the Parashant from the top of October Gypsum Cave, Arizona
 The roads were well taken care of for a dirt road with the exception of a few potholes and scars of 4x4 tires grinding into the mud. Eventually we found our turn which was another nice dirt road with signs and even reflector markers warning us of permanent residency if we veer off the road.
Ron Davis going into October Gypsum Cave, Arizona

The terrain changed a bit from a flat surface to a bit more of a slopping terrain which is always multiplied a bit more at night.  After around 30 miles of this dirt road driving we come to a place were we were suppose to turn but I kept going and realized we missed our turn.  I turn around and came back to the junction, the road went from supper nice to a 2WD high clearance one lane track just wide enough for a car to go down. 
I was thinking to myself, ok here we go with the shady roads.  As the sage was catching under the carriage of the car it was burning like a incense cover-up for a clambake.  Thankfully, that did not cause any damage to the car.
Strata Layers in October Gypsum Cave, Arizona
We eventually came upon a barn and the GPS was telling me to go left and the road all but disappeared with the exception for a couple tire tracks in the dirt going in the direction we needed to go.  I continue to follow the GPS and we found a road that mirrored what we just came off of but that the GPS was giving another instruction, and that was to go right.  There was absolutely no road to the right other than a pair of tire tracks.  So here we are in the middle of the Parashant driving around in the dead of the cold night on suspected private property and the GPS is telling us to literally drive through the desert.

Tiger Salamander in October Gypsum Cave, Arizona
We follow the GOS into the blind with a sense of hope that we would come across some kind of road.  We eventually crossed a few gates, and fields of desert and came to the crossway to a dirt road.  A few more of these occurrences and we got to a "main" dirt road that took us directly to the campsite and the cave. ha!! we made it!
Laura in October Gypsum Cave, Arizona
it was a cold night and everyone was backed behind a large rock and a small cliff where previous Indian campsites were located. We sat around the fire a bit and headed to bed shortly after so we could get an early start to the cave
The following morning we headed to October Gypsum cave and along the way, we passed up a few places where we could find some broken arrowheads in the ground below.  We came upon a dry bed in a dry losing stream of breakdown to where the entrance of the cave was and headed into the breakdown pile after the Tom and Ron rigged the drop.

crawling passage where a mud river covered a white passage in October Gypsum Cave, Arizona
The passage had a light pastel of pink and came to a awkward 25ft drop that had large chunks of gypsum embedded into a strata layer.  There were also solid blocks of gypsum above and below this strata with layers of light pink and purple at the bottom of the drop.

crawling passage where a mud river covered a white passage in October Gypsum Cave, Arizona
This was really interested and I can not remember the last time I saw layers of solid gypsum like this. The cave was relatively small in size but nevertheless quite interesting.

James ascending up the 25 ft. drop in October Gypsum Cave, Arizona
We continued down the crawl which ended in a dig that is probably plugged by the watershed that this cave took along with the mud that caked the walls.  The waterline is obvious as the ceiling and a part of the wall is white and the remainder is gray..  I wonder if this is due to glacial run off? A mummified rabbit was also spotted as well as a big tiger salamander.  Interesting cave and a great introduction to the Parashant.

James ascending up the 25 ft. drop in October Gypsum Cave, Arizona
To learn more about safe caving activities, caving in Nevada, or to learn how you can get involved and visit caves like these, please reach out to your local caving grotto, The Southern Nevada Grotto.  If you have any questions or you need help with reaching out to the right caving organization, please reach out to me directly.

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