When you’re going caving, the first thing to do is find proper clothing to wear. In my case, that involved borrowing a pair of overalls from my brother-in-law, pairing them with knee-pads, and stuffing leather gloves into my pocket. Add a snug-fitting helmet, a headlight that works well, and old shoes and you’re all set. (Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the advice of old shoes, which y’all will hear about later.)
Next, you find a group of fellow adventurous people, meet up with a brave guide, slide through a box to make sure you’ll fit through the tight places, then line up, number off, and begin your exploration.
Actually, exploration might be a misnomer, because I’m fairly certain that I never want to squeeze through places 300 feet underground if said places haven’t already been thoroughly explored. I’ll let other people blaze the trail, then follow along quite contentedly, thank you.
After you set off down the path you need to remember two things:
1) Right is always right – or at least that’s the case in the particular cave we were visiting. If we were ever separated from the group we just needed to keep going to the right and we’d be fine.
2) Don’t get separated from the group. Just, don’t.
And, well, one more thing to remember: Don’t think about where you are or what you’re doing. Seriously. There’s nothing like belly-crawling, side-scooting, and clawing your way through a space barely big enough to fit your body through to induce panic. Especially when you consider that you’re hundreds of feet underground with solid rock on all sides. So, you just don’t think about it. Instead, you go into performance mode and get it done. (And have slightly blurry pictures to show for it since the adrenaline causes shaking.)
Also, it helps if you choose a guide who’s bigger than you so that when your clothes get stuck on the jagged rocks while you’re belly-crawling you can calmly (haha) remind yourself that someone bigger than you just got through and all you need to do is back up a few inches and free yourself. See? No biggie.
Also, try and remember that caving in the Spring is different than in the summer, and you’ll probably be going through water and a lot of mud. Hence the reminder to bring old shoes – or be prepared to buy new ones. Especially if you work in the food industry where shoes are a must and mud is looked at askance.
And of course, conclude your spelunking adventure with a steep muddy hill to slide down, and a sleeping bag to burrow your muddy-self into. Because, sleeping in a dark cave – right after facing all your fears and crawling deep underground – is a very logical thing to do.
And that’s it for today, folks!
Listening to: The beauty of nothing
Question of the Day: Have you ever slept in a cave?