|A Visit to Fulford Cave|
by Stormy on June 23, 2007
It's cold and it's miserable, but people go there all the time and most will say that they had a great time. Fulford Cave is one place that delivers adventure time after time.
By morning the camping area was filled with sixteen humans, three dogs and three marmots. It was a bustling area with things happening everywhere. Maps were being passed around and people were discussing their plans for the day. Same came out to simply lounge. Others wanted to hike. Yet another group wanted to get out to Fulford Cave for a day of exploration.
I opted to go with the caving group. This was the single largest contingent for the day's adventures. Ten people and one marmot made up this group. We gathered our equipment and headed for the cave. A short drive was followed by an uphill hike that only the determined would complete. That was everyone in my group, but I did witness another group crumble under the pressure and abort their hike.
Truth is that while the hike can be strenuous, especially in temperatures exceeding 80 degrees, it can make the cave look good. Fulford is an alpine cave with a stream that calls heavy Colorado snow pack as its origin. It's cold. And it's wet. And we were going in!
Clothing for this cave includes items described as water proof, water resistant and warmth retaining. It's rather funny to see a bunch of people, on an 80 degree morning, sitting on the side of a mountain, putting on their winter gear. "Hot" isn't even close as far as descriptions go!
Having donned our cold cave gear, we entered Fulford Cave through the main entrance. The first couple of rooms had assortments of ice flows covering the floor and a handful of ice stalagmites. One of the cavers mentioned that these had melted down rather quickly this year. Normally the stalagmites are still huge columns reaching up to the ceiling this time of the year.
Four of the people on this trip were either new to caving or fairly inexperienced cavers, requiring some additional help for the difficulties associated with alpine caving. We progressed slowly at first, mindful of the ice and the mud. Falling is easy and getting hurt is easy.
We progressed from the middle level of the cave to the upper level, where we took a break and had some snacks. Caving requires a lot of energy and it's important to respect the body's limits. We continued to explore the cave after our break, venturing through some incredibly beautiful areas. Almost everything required that we stop and look and explore. Notice that I did not say touch. If you touch things that are delicate, you will break them and cave formations are not a renewable resource. That's a very important thing to keep in mind.
About three hours into the trip four of the cavers decided that they wanted out. The cave was cold and miserable and after three hours in winter temperatures, wanting to get outside and face the bright summer day is very understandable. It would be another hour before this group would exit. The rest of us moved on to explore the back half of the upper level.
We did a lot of crawling and climbing and squeezing and a fair amount of walking through big comfortable passages. In the end, though, we discovered that this cave was bigger than we were and much as we wanted to explore more, we were tired and it was time to go.
I really enjoyed my visit to Fulford Cave. It's a very beautiful place. It's important for visitors to remember that personal safety comes first. Fulford is a wild cave. There is no electric lighting, paved paths or rest areas. It's cold, wet and muddy and as one of our cavers pointed out, if you're not careful, you'll get wet, then cold, then experience hypothermia and die. Slipping on ice or mud or wet formations could cause you a tumble from distances sometimes as great as 50 feet. If you're not careful, broken bones could be the least of your concerns and hard as this cave can be when you are healthy, getting out with broken bones could be nearly impossible. And there are no telephones to call for help. Being out in the Holy Cross Wilderness you're on your own. And being in Fulford Cave puts you that much further away from help.
But if you are careful and go with knowledgeable cavers, Fulford Cave can be a very exciting trip. If you ever get the opportunity to go, consider taking it!