The drive east across Nevada is desolate and mostly sand. Fortunately, Sadie and I the interesting and rare Whipple Cave on our route from Mammoth Lakes to SLC. A vertical drop into an unregulated cave which hosts loads of stalagmites, stalactites, popcorn, bats and other unique cave oddities.
Leaving Highway 318 on Shingle Pass Road I immediately became confused on how to get to Whipple Cave. There were lots of ranch roads and our only beta simply read, pass a gate then “continue northeast, then southeast”. Eventually, with a couple thuds to the undercarriage on the rutted roads with surprise rocks, we made it to an interpretive sign for the cave.
The best fact was that they used to have stairs leading down into the cave and host square dances with as many as 300 people. With 300 people and uneven surfaces, its unlikely that much square dancing was going on, but I’m sure it was a hell of a party.
Just past the interpretive sign and a short walk down a trail, we reached the cave entrance: two holes separated by a rock bridge. Fixing the rope, we rappelled down into a very wide opening.
From here we explored the cave for a couple hours. I downloaded a map of the cave, but that was unnecessary as it was wide and easy to navigtate. There were a couple dozen tiny, quarter sized bats on the walls sleeping, a large bone and evidence of mice but no other animals.
I was amazed at the unregulated access here given all the special cave features. I nearly tripped over a wet stalagmite growing out of the ground and developing a popcorn crown like some weird slug.
There were deep fins of other mineral formed features and whole walls of highly textured popcorn. It was really fun to have that wonder of being a kid again, fascinated by my surroundings and eager to see what was around the next corner.
After exploring the whole cave, we jumar’d out, reunited with our howling puppy which suspected we left him for good and got on our way.