Robert Limbert

[Image: Lava tunnel]

Lava tunnel
Photo Courtesy: Steve Wursta

In March 1924, The National Geographic published Robert Limbert's 26-page essay, "Among the Craters of the Moon." In that article, Limbert recounts his experiences hiking through the lava beds. "Although almost totally unknown at present, this section is destined some day to attract tourists from all America, for its lava flows are as interesting as those of Vesuvius, Mauna Loa, or Kilauea," he wrote.

The following paragraphs are excerpted from that article:

"The night we reached the point marked Echo Crater on the map, Cole's feet had become so badly blistered that the pain of walking was almost unendurable. The dog was in terrible shape also; it was pitiful to watch him, as he hobbled after us... It was then decided that he should stay in camp and bathe his foot while I tried to reach Era Martin and Wes Watson, who were waiting to come back with us from the north end. That day I made the round trip of 28 miles, getting back at dark. I carried only a gun, camera, and canteen.

"It was on this trip that I had rather an odd experience. In passing through a pahoehoe flow, I noticed a hole, 15 feet wide and 10 feet deep, evidently caused by the cave-in of the roof of some underground passage.

[Image: two people looking down into a hole]

Robert Limbert looks down into a hole created by a collapsed lava tunnel

"Happening to look down, I saw a mountain sheep's skeleton with the horns in a good state of preservation. Carelessly I laid aside my gun, camera, and canteen and jumped down, alighting on some wind-blown cinders which happened to be at one end. After looking the horns over, I started to climb out, and found that the farthest I could reach lacked about four feet of the top. To be frank, I had some very queer thoughts, chief of which was, Will anybody ever find me or shall I, like the sheep, lie here for years?

"Sitting on one of the rocks that littered the floor, I rested and thought. After a time, by rolling and lifting some of these rocks into a pile at one end, I had a mound from which I could easily reach the rim and draw myself up."

Learn more about Robert Limbert

Learn more about Steve Wurstra's documentary about Robert Limbert

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