Underground wonder near Mt. Shasta

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Underground wonder near Mt. Shasta

Postby Wayne Harrison » May 10, 2007 1:57 pm

Out in the brush filled flatlands off Highway A12 on the way to Montague is a well hidden wonder called Pluto's Cave.

A 190,000 year old lava tube, the sheer size of this underground cavern is a surprise as you enter the system via a yawning entrance that appears out of a jumble of rocks.

With a roof soaring over 50 feet high and almost as wide, the cave provides about an hour long adventure from beginning to end. Skylights that open to the world above provide enough light to see most of the paths, but there are sections where a flashlight or headlamp is required. Although most of the cave has easy paths, some scrambling is required.


Amid the jumble of rocks and vaulted ceiling, look for bird nests and the leavings of various cave dwelling animals including reptiles, mammals and insects. Along the path to the cave, wildflowers are beginning to bloom.

The cave was named by Nelson Cash in 1863 when he found it looking for stray cattle. He named it after the Roman God of the underworld.

There is ample evidence the cave was used by indigenous people long before Europeans arrived. In 1888, John Muir wrote of his discoveries at the cave in the book “Steep Trails.”



“At the mouth of this cave where the light and shelter is good I found many of the heads and horns of the wild sheep, and the remains of campfires, no doubt those of Indian hunters who in stormy weather had camped there and feasted after the fatigues of the chase,” Muir wrote.

The cave, however, is no longer a pristine wilderness experience. Sections are heavily graffitied including what appears to be the names of a Boy Scout troop dated 1917.

The US Forest Service asks that visitors leave the cave as they found it.

“Caves are delicate and must be used wisely to avoid damage,” says a visitor's guide at the cave's parking area. “Unlike the surface environment, which in time can heal its wounds, a cave once damaged remains that way forever.”
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Lava tube on Hwy. A12, in California

Postby Ernie Coffman » May 10, 2007 8:42 pm

Wayne, right up the road about a mile are two more interesting lava tubes that SAG and SOG, along with FS folks, gated with a bat-friendly cave gate. :kewl:

Were you out here, in the west, and didn't let us know? If you're still around there, the WR Speleo-Ed weekend is scheduled for May 18-20th and registration will be at 7 p.m. on that Friday, since it's too late to mail anything in. I know Wendy is coming, so...as they say back in the south, "Ya all come, 'ear?" :patriotic2:
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Postby Wayne Harrison » May 10, 2007 9:25 pm

Ernie,

No, I wasn't out there, sorry. I realize that post left the impression I wrote it because I didn't link to the source. It had explicit directions to the cave so, to be on the safe side, I didn't link to it. I just happened to get a Google news alert about it and reposted it.

I'm sorry I won't be able to make the Speleo-Ed weekend. We've saving our money for our big summer caving trip to Kentucky and Indiana... culminating with the convention. Hope to see you at the Howdy Party. :egyptian:
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Postby NZcaver » May 11, 2007 2:25 am

Wayne Harrison wrote:I realize that post left the impression I wrote it because I didn't link to the source. It had explicit directions to the cave so, to be on the safe side, I didn't link to it. I just happened to get a Google news alert about it and reposted it.

Hmmm, I was also looking for the link. Now I know why I couldn't find it.

FYI - there's a sign for Pluto's Cave right there on the highway, and the National Forest Service have kindly provided a picnic table for the convenience of visitors. In keeping with tradition I won't say which highway, though... :wink:
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Postby Syndam » Sep 25, 2007 12:53 am

I was just there on Aug 30th. I don't know about a 50' roof, more like 25' at the most, at least in the parts that I visited. I have the Lat/Long for the turn off of CR A-12 as well as those of the cave if anybody is interested. It's an easy hike from the parking area, about .25 miles on a flat rocky trail that is well marked.
It doesn't look like this one gets visited much as it's missing the usual trash, litter and crap that visitors seem to leave behind where ever they go...
Image
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The entrance that I used was an easy climb down, the biggest step down was probably 18 inches.
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And looking out of the entrance,
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Pluto Cave trash

Postby Ernie Coffman » Sep 30, 2007 10:50 am

As for the visitation at Pluto Cave, you're wrong sorry to say, for it's one of the most popular lava tubes around there. The Shasta Area Grotto (SAG) is always having trash clean-ups, along with their classroom tours that they do for the local schools. :patriotic2:
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Re: Pluto Cave trash

Postby Syndam » Oct 1, 2007 9:13 pm

Ernie Coffman wrote:As for the visitation at Pluto Cave, you're wrong sorry to say, for it's one of the most popular lava tubes around there. The Shasta Area Grotto (SAG) is always having trash clean-ups, along with their classroom tours that they do for the local schools. :patriotic2:

Well the Shasta Area Grotto is doing a wonderful job!
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Re: Underground wonder near Mt. Shasta

Postby LivingstonAtLarge » Apr 3, 2014 5:35 pm

I was just there yesterday. I live in Bend, OR and am in the High Desert Grotto but I am buying a property about a mile away that's been in the family since the 70's and been unused so of course I had to check it out.

Despite all the graffiti, I was totally enchanted with the cave.

I loved it, and it looks like it loved me :)

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