In Washington, United States
Size:  (not chosen)
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The guide will tell you information about the cave and will answer questions during and after the tour is over. Make sure you have the questions with you and if you do not hear the guide give the answers in the cave tour, you may ask the guide afterwards. Email me the following answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not post your answers in the log.
1. Label your email Gardner Cave and the number of people.
2. Why do some of the formations have green algae on them?
3. There is a formation that looks like a President, name him.
4. There is a formation that looks like a tree, name the tree.
5. There is a formation that looks like a vegetable, name the vegetable.
6. The temperature is a constant 41 degrees, is it too cold for the bats?
Gardner Cave is named for Ed Gardner, a long-time resident and moonshiner in the area, who discovered the cave around 1899. It is rumored Ed put up the deed to his property in a poker game and ended up with the second best hand but lost the pot and property. In 1921, William Crawford, a local Metaline merchant, acquired the land around the cave and deeded 40 acres of it to Washington State Parks later that year. For this reason, the park carries his name. Gardner Cave, with a slope length of 1,055 feet, is the third longest limestone cave in Washington State.
Access to the cave is by conducted walk with park staff. Crawford State Park is a Washington State Park and is open in the summer months from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information and special arrangements, phone Crawford State Park at 509 446-4065. The cave tour is free but there is a $10 car fee to get into the park. So load up the car (the more the merrier) and it will be the best $10 you can spend. The cave tour is open Thursday – Monday from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. Tours are at 10 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m.
The coordinates are for the signup sheet and there is a 25 person limit per tour. Signup as soon as you get there. The cave is a constant 41 degrees so bring a light jacket and don’t forget your flashlight and camera as pictures are allowed.
Plan for a day outing as you may want to visit Box Canyon Dam, Sweet Creek Falls (below Metaline), and take a tour of Boundary Dam power plant, enjoy the picnic grounds, and just enjoy the lake and scenery. Make a circular route and go to Colville where you can visit Crystal Falls and the Earthcache Douglas Falls. All 3 falls are within 100 yards of parking.
About 500 million years ago all of the continents as we know them now, were one super-continent called Pangaea (see picture below). During this period much of North America was covered by an ocean. When the sea creatures died, their shells, bones and coral settled to the bottom, forming limestone ooze. This ooze eventually turned into a rock called the Metaline Limestone. About 70 million years ago, as mountains were forming, this rock was folded and uplifted and during this process it developed cracks and voids. To form a limestone cave water must be present above the limestone as in a stream, rains or in this case mostly glaciers.
Limestone will dissolve in acid, such as the acid formed when rainwater absorbs carbon dioxide, mostly from seeping through the soil. Even though carbonic or sulfuric acid is a weak solution, when it seeps into the ground and limestone over millions of years it will cause small cracks to enlarge as the limestone is carried away in solution. This process will enlarge the cracks and then produce larger and larger voids. If the source of water is a stream it may disappear above ground and find an exit through the limestone downhill. The erosion of both the acids and water will carve out large passages, huge caverns (see below)
Speleothems are nature’s special effects to a hole in the ground. Water seeping through the ground and cracks in a limestone cave's surrounding bedrock may dissolve certain compounds, usually calcite and aragonite (both calcium carbonate), or gypsum (calcium sulfate). The rate depends on the amount of carbon dioxide held in solution, on temperature, and on other factors such as the vegetation above the cave. When the solution reaches an air-filled cave, a discharge of carbon dioxide may alter the water's ability to hold these minerals in solution, causing it’s solutes to precipitate or seep. Over time, which may span tens of thousands of years, the accumulation of these precipitates may form speleothems.
Speleothems are the shapes and forms that you will see in a limestone cave which are made up of precipitate of minerals. Each cave you tour will have a claim to fame about something special about their cave to make it special or unique. Here is a classification of speleothems.
Dripstone: Since mineral rich water is dripping into the cave from the roof stalactites may form. Stalactites hang down from the roof of the cave and the water dripping on the floor below the stalactite may form a stalagmite. Given enough time they will grow towards each other until they touch and become a column. Gardner Cave has one of the best and unique column I have seen in any cave. Sometimes a basin is formed is formed in the top of a stalagmite or the floor of the cave. Pearls can be found in some basin and are round deposits that look like pearls. Soda Straws are formed when the drip of water and calcite is deposited on the outside of the drip. The following drips go down the center of the straw or tube making them longer and longer. Sometimes the water dripping from the ceiling onto the floor will not form a stalagmite, but will splash on the floor and creates ridges which will trap the water into rimstone pools. Bacon is formed when the drips follows a horizontal path before it falls. Remember these formations may take hundreds of thousand years to form and the color of the speleothems may change because of what the water dissolves and holds in suspension as it reaches the cave.
Flowstone: When water does not drip but flows across the ceiling, walls and floors of the cave and forms features it is called flowstone. These flowstones create many shapes, textures and colors in the feature. It is like looking at clouds, you may find all sort of shapes-you are only limited to your imagination as to what you see. I took a picture of a formation and when I got home I could not believe it. It looked like a sleeping seal pup being watched by two weasels with neck collars (see below). It also depends on your angle of view and lighting. Kids love to make up things and are better than adults at it and they see many more. Some of your questions will ask you about these features of the cave that will be pointed out by the guide, so know your questions. Curtains or draperies are massive walls of flowstone tens of feet across from ceiling to floor. Sometimes they look like pipes of an organ. Look at the floor and you will see waves on the floor created by the water flowing over it.
Caves are classified by being alive or dead. A live cave still has water entering into it during all or part of the year and the creation and building of the formations is still going on. A dead cave is a dry cave and there is no formation building. Even though a cave is classified as dead it can still have spectacular formations to experience. If climate changes, dry cave may turn wet and a wet, dry and through the eons both may have changed many times. I never pass a cave if they have a tour and I always come away awed by what I see and experience. Gardner Cave is classified as a young cave in age and even though the tour is less than 900 feet, it is loaded with features you would only find in longer caves. Since Gardner Cave is a living cave, be very careful not to touch any of the formations as you may break part of a formation. Oil in your skin can cause a change in the color and the water will flow around the oil spot and can change the shape. Even a piece of lint floating around and landing on a formation may change the shape. One of the problems we face with nature is how to enjoy it without harming and changing it and caves are no exception. So look but do not touch.
Earthcaches are educational in nature and I hope you look at the pictures and read some of the references to get a better understanding of caves. Just google caves and you will even get a listing of caves with tours. South of Butte, Montana is Lewis and Clark Cave which would make a weekend getaway. If you head south on Interstate 5 there is Shasta Cave at the southern end of Shasta lake in Northern California. It is unusual because you get a boat ride across the lake to the cave. Mt. Rushmore area has Wind and Jewel caves just waiting for you to explore.
Brochure given at cave
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Last Updated: on 8/12/2017 8:56:25 PM Pacific Daylight Time (3:56 AM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum