Little Cave, Big Experience!
I have always been a huge fan of outdoor recreation; unfortunately, the area that I live in does not have a lot of options where that is concerned. So when a few friends of mine invited me to tag along on one of their outdoor expeditions a few months ago, I was more than happy to take them up on their offer. They had quite a few things planned out to make for a pretty busy weekend, but when they mentioned that caving was on the list, I was ecstatic! I have never been able to go caving before this weekend, but it is something that I will definitely do again if given half of a chance.
The cave that we went to was relatively small, but because this was my first experience inside of a cave, it was still quite exciting. After hiking about three quarters of a mile to get to the cave, the 20 degree drop in temperature at the mouth of the cave was a welcome change of climate. I understood then why my friends had recommended that I bring a sweater along on the trip even though it was the middle of the summer, I just wish I would have listened to them when they suggested knee pads as well. Needless to say, I ignored the warning about the knee pads, and my knee’s paid the price after all of the crawling that we had to do inside of the cave to get from one chamber to the next. Once we were through the first set of tunnels, I felt like I had somehow traveled into a completely different world. Even though we were only about an eighth of a mile inside the cave, it was completely dark, and not a single sound could be heard except from the members of our party. Once I saw how dark it was inside, it was easy to understand why people say that caving is so dangerous. If our flash lights would have stopped working, it would have been next to impossible to find our way out again without light, and with the low oxygen count, I don’t think we could have survived more than a day or so inside there. In fact, after just a few hours of being inside, my head was throbbing because of all of the dust that I was breathing in due to how dry it was. With the exception of a tiny water fall at the entrance, the rest of the cave was bone dry until we got to the last room where it was slightly damp again. It was easy to see why caves are one of the few places in the world where you won’t find mold. The low temperature of caves and the lack of moisture make it almost impossible for mold to form and grow.
Even though it took quite a bit of work to get to the back of the cave, the final room, dubbed the echo room, made it all worthwhile! The sheer size of this room was enough to take your breath away. I couldn’t believe that even though we were AÃ¯Â¿Â½ of a mile inside of the earth, there was a room as big as my house that had formed over millions of years. It was a nice experience to be able to sit there in the dark with nothing more than the sound of your heart beat in your ears to remind you what noise was. I could have stayed there for hours alone with my thoughts had my head not been killing from all of the dust. Once we finally got outside again, we found that what had felt to us like 5 hours or more, was actually nothing more than about 2 and a half hours. You really do lose your sense of pretty much everything while you’re inside one of these places. Needless to say, the experience was one that I will not soon forget, and I can’t wait until the next time that I get the opportunity to do something like this.