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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:Modern / 20th Century
  • Language:English
  • Series title:The Lechuguilla Trilogy
  • Series Number:3
  • Pages:194
  • eBook ISBN:9781483558523

The Mother Lode

Exploration of the World's Most Beautiful Cave

by Ron Delano

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The award winning television series “Planet Earth” described Lechuguilla Cave as follows: “Beneath this arid landscape lies a subterranean wonderland. Without water to carve them, caves seem unlikely here. But under the New Mexico desert sprawls one of the longest, deepest, and most stunning caves in the world. Its secrets remained unknown until 1986, when cavers dug through several yards of loose rock at the bottom of this pit. They named the cave Lechuguilla. Since its discovery, more than a hundred and twenty miles of passageways have been mapped. Lechuguilla is the world’s most protected cave. The reason? Some of the most exquisite formations ever seen underground.” As one of the most important and exciting exploration stories of the last century, Lechuguilla Cave’s story deserves to told – and brilliantly illustrated photographically – in full. This is the book to do it. I am most pleased to present "The Mother Lode", the final installment of The Lechuguilla Cave Trilogy, for your consideration
I pulled off my boots, shaking ever-present grit from the toes, and stripped down until my only attire was a headlamp. “Now there’s one for the fashion runways,” I thought wryly. More aging adventurer than willowy Milan supermodel, I eased into the impossibly cool, aqua water and felt the floor quickly fall away. My buddy Neil followed behind. We stroked across the Olympic pool-sized lake, which at its center seemed to be 20 crystalline feet deep, maybe more. Ahead of us the water dove around a blind corner, reaching into who knows where. Or what. Then we saw it. Or rather, it chose to reveal itself to us. We were at the gates of an enchanted kingdom that no fairy tale could conjure. A broad avenue, splendidly decorated with pagoda towers and rich draperies, rose out of the lake in front of us. Exchanging wide-eyed glances, we stepped onto the promenade, passing lily pads and long ribbons rising from the lake on either side. The path terminated in a broad platform seemingly designed for royal audiences. We found ourselves in a magnificent ballroom, our shadows rippling distantly on its walls. We were in Lechuguilla cave, 800 steamy feet below the earth’s surface in New Mexico. And we weren’t turning back. Called “the Jewel of the Underground” by its devotees, Lechuguilla is a wonderland of sublime vistas, its secrets unrolling in more than 135+ miles of passages – and that’s only what has been explored so far. It’s both the deepest limestone cave in the U.S. and, so far, the fifth longest in the world. No one, however, has chronicled in detail the secrecy, exploits, victories, accidents and inevitable politics surrounding the cave’s emergence into public consciousness. This book entitled The Mother Lode is the fthird and final installment of The Lechuguilla Cave Trilogy and chronicles the final years of this two decades long adventure. This is a landmark work aimed at a broad audience that enjoys armchair adventure, vividly told, regardless of whether they’ve ever set foot in an REI. Quick background: Two decades ago, Lechuguilla was considered an obscure pit near Carlsbad Cavern that could be thoroughly explored in less than an hour. Yet visitors repeatedly noticed a howling wind beneath the dirt floor, indisputable evidence of a great cavern beyond. A determined team of “cavers” dug intermittently for 18 months before breaking through to one of nature’s grandest mysteries – one that Indians had known of at its mouth, but that had lain anonymous for who knows how many generations. We’ve taken a dual approach to the book: high adventure and obsessive attention to factual accuracy. The former describes five of Lechuguilla’s most significant and colorful explorers, nearly all of whom participated for the entire 20 years. The collection of personalities and “real” professions is, to put it mildly, eclectic: a genius Mensa beekeeper, an exuberant emergency room physician, a Luddite hermit, a gung-ho rock climber and myself, an optometrist and onetime goldmine operator. The narrative includes our agreements, revelations, arguments, near-fatal accidents, partings and coming together of ways with an intensity that only a first-person experience can. Yet the real main character book is the cave itself – a splendorous, world-class natural treasure by virtually any definition. It’s hard to imagine anywhere as stunning, magnificent, ethereal and simultaneous alien as Lechuguilla. Knowing that words can’t possibly do it justice, Elusive Majesty has been lavishly endowed with photographs and maps from internationally recognized cave photographers and graphic artists. As one of the most important and interesting exploration stories of the last century, Lechuguilla Cave’s story deserves to told – and brilliantly illustrated photographically – in full. This is the book to do it. I am most pleased to present The Mother Lodethe final installment of The Lechuguilla Cave Trilogy for your consideration.
About the author
Whether it was fate or just damned good luck, neophyte cave explorer Ron DeLano and caving veteran Donald G. Davis had the good fortune to become involved with the exploration of Lechuguilla Cave from its very earliest days. Even back then, these explorers knew that this particular cave had the potential to be a cave discovery of global importance. As exploration revealed one amazing discovery after another, their meticulously maintained Lechuguilla Cave archives became ever larger and extensive. In short order, it became self-evident that Lechuguilla Cave was keeping its promise and that this truly was a story worth preserving for the ages. So if they were ever going to write a book about anything, it would be about Lechuguilla Cave. While Ron DeLano is the lead author of The Lechuguilla Trilogy, Donald G. Davis contributed mightily by reviewing and editing the work in progress and also by contributing writings of his own throughout. As the cave scholar and scientist, Davis’s insight into the geological wonders provided a fascinating window on the important scientific revelations made in Lechuguilla Cave. While Davis’s disciplined insistence on historical accuracy throughout establishes this work as the primary source for the historical exploration of Lechuguilla cave during this time, DeLano’s flair for remembering and describing these events: the personalities, the conversations, the politics, the great battles and the great triumphs. The result: a collaboration that captures the high drama of original exploration that the reader can trust to be correct and true.