Guest blogger week kicks off with Fadra from All Things Fadra.
I first met Fadra at a local blogging mom get-together we have here in Raleigh. Once I found out she was a marketer like me – AND A BLOGGER- I started talking her head off and haven’t stopped. I totally look up to this chick- she’s brilliantly smart, full of insight into just about anything and just all around has her stuff together!
When Melissa asked if I was interested in guest posting (topic: something outdoorsy), I couldn’t respond fast enough. But the trouble was picking the ONE topic that would get me excited and not bore her readers (since her blog is totally fabulous). I am an outdoorsy kind of girl but I very much appreciate the comforts of home. I like day trips that end with a nice comfortable bed to sink into at night. So what kind of half-adventure did I have to share?
For those that don’t know, spelunking is a fancy term for caving or cave exploring. As it turns out, it’s an overused term. Here’s why. I have been to many, many caverns in my lifetime. Some of my favorites include Luray Caverns in Virginia, Laurel Caverns in Pennsylvania, and Linville Caverns in good ol’ North Carolina. And apparently, walking through a nicely paved, beautifully lit cavern with a gift shop at the end of the tour is considered “spelunking.”
Not in my book.
I took my one and only spelunking trip back in 1987 or so. I can’t remember the exact year. I’m getting old. I’ll just tell you I was in high school. I belonged to a group called the Honors Science Seminar, also known as the school nerds. It’s okay. I’m not in high school anymore so it doesn’t hurt my feelings. And we actually got to do some really cool stuff.
We planned a Saturday spelunking outing to Luray, Virginia which was probably about 2.5 hours away from where I lived in southern Maryland. Luray is a beautiful area and home to some pretty famous caverns. But we weren’t going to see the famous Stalacpipe Organ or anything. Instead we were visiting one of the smaller, private entrances to the caverns. Only some parts of the cavern are opened to the public. If you pay attention, you may find dark holes in several places blocked by gates with locks.
Although I searched and googled (still can’t bring myself to bing), I couldn’t find the name of the cave where we went spelunking but I’ll tell you what I do remember. It was a small entrance. It was covered by a metal gate and it was locked. The entrance was easily accessible because this cave had actually been commercially open and then closed sometime in the 1920s.
We had permission to enter and were all properly outfitted with layers of clothes, a hardhat, and two flashlights (one for back-up). We had no map but had some sense of direction because there had been trails inside at one point. Granted, a trail made 60 years prior doesn’t really hold up too well but it helped.
Into the cave we went. We all moved at our own pace looking for some hidden treasure in the cavern. You get so used to seeing stalactites and stalagmites lit up in all their glory that it’s hard to appreciate them in their natural environment. Shapes that would look beautiful ended up looking somewhat eerie, when you could see them, that is.
I distinctly remember climbing in a dark but elevated area. I quickly found that it helps to shine the light down as well as forward. I had a nice slide down on the other side. In fact, I slid right into a stalagmite. And I certainly never forgot the difference between a stalagmite and stalactite after that.
Shortly after my fall, I found that I was ahead of the slow group and behind the fast group. I was essentially all alone. I couldn’t hear anyone. And just to freak myself out, I turned off the flashlight. You know what? It really is dark in there.
We eventually reached the rear of the cave. There was a small dark passage underneath a rock that led to another cave. Never one to say no to a challenge (at the time, anyway), I got down on my hands and knees and crawled under that rock. I squeezed under that rock. I got stuck under that rock.
No one told me that there was a layer of 6 inch mud below the rock. So I’m crawling and find that I’m leaving one of my boots behind. The mud had such a force of suction that it pulled the hiking boot right off of my foot. But I finally made it under the rock and was able to see…
A very tiny, dark, dull cave with just about enough room for 5 people to stand shoulder to shoulder. So I quickly plunged back into the mud and made my way out.
We finally exited the cave full of more mud than I’ve ever seen in my life. I changed my clothes, put the muddy stuff in a bag, and got on the bus for a long ride back.
Unfortunately, back in those days, camera equipment wasn’t quite as portable so I don’t have any photographic evidence from my trip (a complete sacrilege on a blog with such gorgeous photos). So instead you’ll see how my spelunking trips fare these days. With a few years and fears on me and a preschooler to manage, we’re sticking to the easy trails. For now.