Monday, July 23, 2012

Small, dark places in the deep

Today on the menu: Caving.

I joined Cracker and his boys at Rushmore Cave today, which is very unlike Bethlehem Cave.

There were some


Below is pictured the entrance to the crawl spaces from the main cave via a ladder.

(These pictures of course don't do justice, since I had to use the flash it makes the cave seem well lit.

It wasn't.)

There was a tour going on of the main, commercialized portion of the cave at the time, and they all stopped, amazed, to watch us shimmy through the crack and the tour guide made us part of the tour. We felt like celebrities.

We took the boys in two groups, as the nature of the cave had us crawling through worm holes for extended periods of time where each person nary saw any but the feet of the one in front of them. Each person was expected to make sure they knew the person behind them was still there.

Some of these spaces were so narrow you had to slide in sideways.

Some were so low you lay flat on your belly with your arms stretched in front of you, and there wasn't enough room to lift your head to see where you were going so we lay cheek to the ground and squirmed forward.

I brought up the rear of the group, so there were those times when the last one had gone into the hole in front of me and I was waiting to give myself enough space so that he wouldn't kick me in the face, and there was this moment when I was all alone in the darkness with my lonely little headlamp, left behind.

What a sensation.

And even though you know the boys in front of you (seem) to have made it through the miniscule opening and you know they're bigger than you, your brain starts looking at that small, dark, unknown hole and saying things like "Um, I'm really not sure this is going to turn out well for us, here. Probably, you're not going to make it."

These boys were a great bunch. At one point, Cracker has us turn all the headlamps off to experience complete, unadulterated darkness. Everyone's quiet, alone in the blackness, until one voice says "This would be the perfect place to kill someone." And of course after that I hear from time to time voices drifting back through the tunnel saying things like "I found the murder weapon! It's a shovel!" (They're still digging to try and meet up with other passages in the cave, so occasionally we'd stumble across tools).


During a long stretch where we didn't see the front of the group for a good half hour, I could hear the boy in front of the boy in front of me saying things like "What, Bob? Can't you see the person in front of you? You don't KNOW for sure if they went left or right??"

THAT is a frightening thing to hear in a cave.

So there was a time when I really wasn't sure if we were still part of the group.

We were ready to use the shovel on Bob.

It was a good deal of exhilarating fun. A different sort of challenge than, say, mountain biking, to be sure. More mental than anything. 

When we were done we went outside to hang around while the second group went in. We ate lunch and played cards and Catch Phrase, which was a good time because little Bob started out every time with "What happens when..." which didn't usually produce good results. And the boys wrote me a haiku to get my name. It went like this:

Eating Bob was fun
Because he lost us in caves

1 comment:

Donna said...

Oh my. I'd say you've pretty much cured your claustrophobia. Good for you!