Underground Lakes And A Vanished Church Await In California Cavern
Speaker 1: 00:00 Summer vacations are always about sandy beaches and sunshine, some adventurous souls like to head underground and tour California's numerous caves. In fact, subterranean tourism isn't new. The very first California cave to open to the public back during the gold rush was in the Sierra Nevada foothills 170 years later. Its unique sites are still as impressive as they were to those first candle clutching visitors. Carly's Severn was lucky enough to get a private tour. If you drive deep into the rolling hills of Calaveras county northwest of your sanity and hike a little ways into the woodland, you'll arrive at a rusting door and the rock behind it, 80 feet below the earth is California cavern. And even just stepping into the caves, mouth is like entering another world. Wow. This is already amazing if you're impressed by this. All right, easy crowd. This place was California, his very first show cave where the public could pay their money and descend into the earth, and the sites they were shown were astonishing low ceilings, but you had an elaborate network of jacket winding marble tunnels, yawning wide to reveal stunning sweeping chambers where glint on the walls. Speaker 1: 01:30 Stretching silently underground for two and a half miles. [inaudible] this is the big room. This is the cathedral room. It's the largest scolding me down here. His California cabin tour guide, Andrew Kilbride. He's been chaperoning excitable visitors here and working on his cave jokes. The 17 years scripting, I brought the keys right. You guys are unprepared down in the caverns. It's 54 degrees, 365 days of the year. So stepping through this gate on a hot summer's day here, it feels like heaven and winter. This temperature means steam actually rises from the caves mouth, which can kind of look more like how, Speaker 2: 02:13 Huh? Speaker 1: 02:13 Much of California. Kevin's early history is shrouded mystery. The indigenous. Meanwhile, people was said to have wants to use the cabins as a jail. But one day in 1850 a prospect are called Captain Joseph Taylor chanced upon a tiny opening in the rock and he blew it open. He was hoping to find gold down here, but instead stumbled upon an ornate underworld, digitally captured the public imagination or noticed that people wanted to go in there. So give him the idea of charging a pinch of gold dust or a couple of coins and give him a candlelit tour. So starting this off as the very first commercialized cave in California, and as Andrew shows me with his flashlight ash directly onto the walls, you can see it name after name signatures of those first paying visitors. Speaker 3: 02:59 So this is that historical vandalism right here Speaker 1: 03:02 from crude etchings to elegant, swooping cursive, all done with a candle in one hand and a nail in the other. Speaker 3: 03:10 And occasionally really rare. But occasionally people find distant relatives on the wrongs. Speaker 1: 03:13 Famous writers came down here, Mark Twain, Brett Hart, and John Muir, who visited an 1876 and wrote of the cabins, all the glitter, like a glacier cave with icicle, like stalactites and stalagmites combined in forms of indescribable beauty. But the really special thing about California cavern is the underground lakes. These foreboding pools of dark waters stretch into the blackness, but when you hold a light to them, the water's so crystal clear. It's almost invisible. And during the flood season, unless you hear the soft bubbles rising, it's easy to step straight in without even realizing like hide it several times a year, California, Kevin opens up these lakes to tour groups, meaning you can raft or even swim across, Speaker 3: 04:04 I need to say you swamp my underground lake. Little little creeping on. There's 80 feet of piss black water below you. But it's quite the experience. It's really fun, really something else. Speaker 1: 04:14 And you know how when you gaze into clouds, your eyes seek out familiar faces and shapes and patterns down here where it's dark, that impulse is only more intense. Speaker 3: 04:25 So yeah, you really, if you do have a good imagination, you can spend hours down here staring up at the ceiling, Speaker 1: 04:30 bathed in the colorful artificial light that fills California cavern swirling rock formations, look like frozen waterfalls, crouching figures, jellyfish, popcorn, even demonic faces, and they're all revealed by the kind of illumination that if it hadn't been for Captain Taylor's thirst for gold back in 1850 would never have happened. Speaker 3: 04:52 It's not really, wasn't really meant to ever be seen because was outing and lights in here it's pitch black, so all the beauty is just shrouded in darkness all the time. So it's kind of just a weird way of thinking about how much beauty is down here, but not really ever meant to be. Be looked at without bringing in the lights Speaker 1: 05:08 on our way out of the cabins, we passed the days of first tour group coming down. It's a little cold for them and as our guide Andrew leads us out of the depths and up into blazing sunlight again. We can hear it. They're excited. Voices gradually receding behind the rocks. It seems like the thrill of seeing things you were kind of never meant to see never gets old. I'm Kali seven in California. Kevin, Speaker 4: 05:35 remember.