Cool in the Tube
I found myself in a lava tube last week, and although lava implies heat, I would definitely recommend the tube as a way of getting out of it in the summer months. The lava tube just outside of Flagstaff, is about an hour and 15 minutes from Sedona, and maintains a temperature of 40 degrees year round. This cool temp is great for hiking and encourages you to keep moving or become chilled. Wear good hiking shoes with thick soles and long pants so your legs don’t get scratched up. I would also recommend a head lamp as it is pitch black in the tube. I did see some hikers carrying flashlights, but it is good to have your hands free for balance.
The entrance down into the cave is very rocky and can be a bit tricky. Take your time, I know I did. My hiking partner was more like a goat and showed no fear as he scrambled down like Golem from the “Lord of the Rings” movies, while I was sitting and scooting for parts of it. The entrance is the most difficult part of your climbing/hiking experience. The tube’s floor is uneven, but for the most part flat. There is water drip and condensation so there are some slippery wet spots so be careful.
What is amazing about this experience is finding those pockets of absolute silence and darkness. We would stop in a cavernous dome and turn our headlamps off and just listen to nothing. It is very rare now-a-days to hear silence and it was peaceful.
The tube will fork. If you go to the right the cave ceiling lowers to about 3 or 4 feet high. My goat friend was able to scramble under there, but I was not. I back tracked and went the opposite direction where these two tubes met up again. As we continued down the tube, the ceiling did lower again, but no so much that I couldn’t crouch through. We made it all the way to the end and sat down there for a while not seeing anyone for half an hour. What I found interesting was the parking lot was full when we got there, but the cave never seemed to be crowded. In fact, there were long periods of time where we didn’t see anyone.
What’s crazy is, now, 3 days later, my quads still hurt! I know I am not super in shape or anything, but I hit the gym a few times a week and am still sore. I had a blast and would recommend the tube to anyone wanting a cool hike in a new environment. Click here to see a video of me walking in the lava tube.
Directions and more pics to the lava tube can be found here.
Picture 1, is of the entrance before you go in.
Picture 2, is me in my stylish handlamp.
Picture 3, is my hiking partner, exiting the lava tube.