A day of hiking in Flagstaff, Ariz. in the Lava River Cave and on one of the San Francisco Peaks’ trails, Kachina Peak, was exactly what I needed to refresh my mind (and lungs).

I was taken back by the feeling of being completely surrounded by darkness, underground, in 40 degree temperatures (during the Arizona summer!) with only a flashlight to guide me in the Lava River Cave.

Every now and then I’d turn off my flashlight and immediately have zero visibility. It was a strange feeling, but somehow calming.

Along the walls of the Lava River Cave were designs and patterns that formed into what looked like all sorts of different faces. These designs, probably overlooked by most, are one of the most interesting things about the cave.

From deep underground, to high above it, the Skyride was an easy lift all the way up to the top of Snowbowl. Great views in every direction, and a whole lot of green color that I wasn’t used to seeing in the city, kept me occupied as thoughts of falling out of my chair quickly disappeared.

Once at the top, clouds floated above me and cast shadows on the ground below, keeping me steady somewhere in between.

With so many beautiful things to see all packed into one amazing day, I was a bit sad to return to the concrete jungle. I will be back for another healthy dose of nature soon.

Here are some photos from my adventures underground through the Lava River Cave and high above on the Skyride:

[slickr-flickr tag=”lavarivercave” items=”20″ type=”sets” id=”62045641@N08″]   [stextbox id=”grey”]To view these photos in larger sizes, check out the album on my Flickr account.[/stextbox]