30 Jul Live. Laugh. Lava.
The National Park Services of El Malpais National Monument is a conservation area that’s over 350,000 acres that is primarily covered in lava flows that have contributed to creating a beautiful landscape of untouched lava fields as far as the eye can see. The terrain can be challenging and dangerous to navigate, but must be done in order to reach majority of the beautiful cave sites. The caves out here in El Malpais are really interesting lava tube caves that were formed thousands of years ago underneath the lava flows as the volcanic activity cooled. Once cooled, these caves were used as shelter for local natives in early civilization which now leave them full of history that is directly tied to the first tribes of this land.
The mission of El Malpais National Monument is to protect and preserve, for the enjoyment of current and future generations, some of the most unique and fragile lava tube caves in the world, along with their resident bat colonies. And I’m happy to say that I’m spending my days hiking to these caves just about every day, navigating the lava fields and immersing my efforts in collecting information that furthers the El Malpais mission.
My first several weeks here have been a blast! I’ve been part of a super friendly team of professional cavers and scientist who’ve been tasked with a project of creating very detailed illustrative cave maps and conducting some archeological inventories to help the archeology team in locating anything that we come across such as pottery sherds, bones, petroglyphs, and primitive tools. The maps that we are drawing are done in a sequence as we slowly work our way from the front of the cave and move to the very end of the cave system or vice versa. We methodically piece them together as we map around 50ft sections at a time, sometimes this includes getting through a tight squeeze of passage or staying in a super small compact space and finishing the sketch, which is always a good time J Some of these caves also require a firm grasp of technical rope entry skills in order to access and honestly are an incredible amount of fun to do. With that being said, my days out here in El Malpais are oh so rewarding as I am loving life and I would highly recommend coming out here to check out this magnificent natural landscape.