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Rumor has it that a soldier became detached from his unit stationed in the Sierras and slipped into one of the pits leading into what is now known as Lost Soldier Cave. During his time trapped in the cave, fearing that he would use his weapon on himself, he threw his rifle into one of the chasms. The rifle has never been found.
Chances are the rifle is not there, since the cave has been thoroughly explored and restored by cavers from the SFBC grotto. To do this, they rigged hoses to funnel water into the cave and applied toothbrushes and elbow grease in what must have been a wet, cold, and tedious labor of love. The result is a beautifully preserved cave with outstanding formations which is kept under lock and key to prevent further damage.
Entry into the cave requires a few drops down rope of about ten to thirty meters, and of course climbs back out. The trip leader was one of the restorers, and he knew the cave inside and out. One of the most memorable spots in the cave is a keyhole you have to pull your way up to and once there wriggle into a slot one arm at a time. The reward is a calcite alter ringed with curtains and stalactites. Other tight spaces lead to similar treats, and not all cavers were able to squeeze through all openings.
When we went into the cave, the weather was fine, and we anticipated a good night's sleep in tents and hiking next day. But while we were "downstairs" a storm blew in, and we hiked back to our cars in drenching rain. I sat in Lynn's VW microbus and sipped beer until we decided the rain was there to stay, and I pulled stakes on the tent and we headed out in the storm, arriving home at dawn. Still, the caving was great!
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