(Amy Vogelsang Photo)
CARLSBAD — The crisp morning air slowly has the sense of warming as the pink and orange glow of sunrise starts to fade into a clear blue sky. Bats have, for the most part, bunkered down for the day, and we are now, just after 6 a.m., allowed to enter the Carlsbad Caverns on a Lantern Tour. This unique experience is meant to give the feeling of what early explorers saw and felt upon entering the caves.
Our candles are lit and lowered into wooden-framed, glass-paneled lanterns, and roughly 60 people begin trudging down a steep path into the abyss. Upon entering, my nose is immediately assaulted by the musty smell of bats and their feces, but the stench either goes away, or I simply become accustomed to it.
With each step farther into the cave, the murmured conversations drop to whispers and eventually disappear all together. We are engulfed in silence.
In front of me is Andrea Lucas, park ranger and tour guide, holding her own lantern. Login to read more