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  This was the very first outing of the newly-formed Motorola Hiking Club.  
Lava River Cave Camp-Out
August 24, 1996
by Rick Scott
Motorolans and their families visit Flagstaff’s Lava River Cave.

I was very pleased with the turnout for this trip. We had a total of 18 people including children. Everyone met at the Denny’s at Bell and I-17. After arranging carpools we headed for the cave.

When we got there, we had a big surprise waiting for us: a boy scout troop and a volleyball team were camping at the cave parking site. There were so many people we had to wait at the cave entrance to get in. Our first order of business was to eat our picnic style lunch in the rain. It was only a drizzle, but we set up a tarp between some of the trees to have a dry place to eat and get ready for caving. The rain stopped by the time we were ready to head for the cave, which was a good thing considering the cave is a quarter of a mile from the cars. Nobody wants to be wet before entering a cave that is about 40°F.

After regrouping at the cave entrance, we proceeded to climb into the cave. The cave is a lava tube that forms when lava, flowing along the ground, starts to cool off on the outer layers. This forms a crust that further insulates the flowing lava from the outside air. This action continues until the source of the lava stops, allowing the lava to drain out of this newly formed tube. In the case of Lava River Cave, a portion of the ceiling collapsed forming an entrance to this subterranean tube.

Entrance to the Lava Cave.

The floor of the cave is about 80 feet under ground, so the entrance is a scramble down the rocks that fell from the ceiling when the entrance was formed.

My wife and I had our 3 year old son with us and Joe Orman and his wife had their 4 year old and 2 year old daughters with them, so we were going awfully slow compared to the rest of our group. As a matter of fact, we never made it more than about a third of the way into the cave. The rest of the group made it all the way to the back of the cave. When we were all gathered again and back at our cars, we headed off to find a suitable location to set up camp for the night. We found a very nice spot at the edge of a meadow a couple of miles north of the cave. There were blossoming wild flowers all around, making for a beautiful place to camp. We also had a good view of the San Francisco Peaks. Setting up camp and eating dinner was generally uneventful, except for some delicious cupcakes made by Pam Orman. Tom and Jeannie’s son Jon and his friend Ryan made and tended a nice campfire.

The evening temperature was just right and the moon provided enough light so that we could talk around without flashlights. We relaxed and slowly broke camp on Sunday morning, as there was nothing planned except to enjoy this wonderful spot in the woods. As camp was disassembled, people left on their own schedule. Joe and his family stayed in the area for more exploration, while I photographed some of the wildflowers on the way out.

I want to thank all of those who came along. I had a good time and got to meet some new Motorolans and their families.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated October 23, 2016