Tuesday, July 24, 2012

First time caver!!!

Talk about a crazy weekend… I gotta tell you about the craziness of my first caving experience… 
So Phil took me to KOR this last weekend (Karst-O-Rama) down in Kentucky. On Thursday night we got there and got the tent set up and hung out with some people before the rain started. Friday morning we get up and head out for Millers Cave. Phil’s cousin was leading a group there so Phil was tailing the group so of course I stayed second to the end so that he was always there to keep an eye on me. Let me set up this view for you… I have coveralls on over my layer of under armor, knee pads to protect me, and a bright yellow helmet with a light on it which makes me look just like a coal miner hahah… so anyway we get there and hike up the side of a mountain to get to the cave entrance. So by this point I am petrified beyond belief and my heart beat is a million beats a minute but I think I did an ok job not looking crazy scared hahaha. So we get in and the first thing we have to do is army crawl… forever… ok not forever but it’s a long way and Im thinking “oh god what if we get to a point where I don’t fit” well anyway I did and sure enough eventually I make it out to the other side and am officially in the cave now. The cave was kinda cool but I was so busy paying attention to where I was going and not falling or not dying that I didn’t spend much time looking around. I worked my butt off trying to keep up. I thought I got stuck once but Phil calmed me down and told me how to make my shoulders fit better. This calmed me down a lot… Then there was this crazy hole where phil just spider manned his way up but they had to pull all of the rest of us up since we couldn’t pull the same act he had just done… By the time all was said and done 4 + hours later I was exhausted and convinced that I wasn’t a fan and wasn’t sure if I wanted to try it again on Saturday….
Saturday morning came and I woke up petrified yet again of what the day would hold but I sucked it up and told myself to put on my big girl panties and deal with it… So we head out for day 2…. A new cave and let me tell you about this crazy drive… all the roads here are po-dunk little back stone country roads and then all of a sudden we pull off this currently crappy road on to what they call the “goat path road”  It is only as wide as a single vehicle… you have to have 4 wheel drive and it has brush growing down both sides and puddles the size of creeks across them…. It takes quite a while and a lot of good driving to eventually get to a place where we had to get out and walk the rest of the way because the road was washed out…. This is a real road that is actually on a map… you wouldn’t even believe it…. I’d have trouble getting a crappy 4 wheeler up this road…. Anyway we get out and head into the cave…. I was warned that it was a wet cave and I would be getting soaked…  so we get in and I decide to follow Phil’s cousin so that way I don’t have time to get freaked out haha… There was this crazy long passage that was super narrow  but we were going so fast I didn’t have time to worry about it… I was jumping over obstacles and propelling myself through some areas and crawling through water and squeezing through areas and for once I felt like the spiderman of this relationship hahah. I was really proud of myself…. Anyway we get through that and we take a minute to relax on this big hill in this big cavern and we all layed down and shut off our lights…. Its crazy how dark it was… you don’t realize what dark is until you have done something like that… you keep looking for light or looking for some speck of light or you start seeing what you think is something when there really is nothing but pitch black…. It’s the coolest thing ever… I just couldn’t get over it and your eyes don’t adjust eventually like they do in a dark bedroom or closet… you are just in blackness… it was sooo amazing… so anyway we eventually get up and moving again and we are wading through water waist high in places and im climbing up stuff and exploring and was even leading for awhile…. I found ways to climb up without assistance… I was climbing on ledges and up through holes and under rocks… I tested my body in ways I didn’t know was possible… It’s funny what the body is capable of when you make it do stuff you don’t think you can do… at one point I was climbing up these rocks to get into a secret formation room and I fold a hand hold, pulled my leg up past my known flexibility and pulled myself up with my arms until I was up then proceeded to do it again from a smaller ledge with a smaller foothold and I managed to get up there yet again…. Then again and again I kept surprising myself… I even found a way to climb down something by pushing my back up against one wall and walking down with my legs pressed up against an adjoining wall…. I didn’t know I could that….   And since I wasn’t freaking out this time I actually stopped to look around and let me tell you…. It was beautiful… the formations in the caves and the waterfalls and the shapes and colors of the rocks…. You wouldn’t believe how gorgeous it is when its normally in complete darkness…. The stalagmites and stalactites were just gorgeous and I was fascinated and drawn into it all…. I was officially hooked I think at that point right before we decided to turn around and head back out…..  By the time we saw sunlight again I was exhausted but it was sooooo worth it!!!
Saturday night we hung out, had dinner, and phil took me up the main cave there. Its just a tourist cave that you can through in shorts and sandals but it is still a gorgeous and very large cave… there is this thing they call signature alley and it is this tight passage where past workers and cavers have signed their names into the wall… you aren’t allowed to anymore because its considered a historical place but if you try real hard you can find this picture of a well drawn bird which is the signature of someone famous…. I’ll leave you in suspense as to who drew it but its amazing…. Phil even ended up buying me my own new red helmet and bright helmet light and I bought a red cave suit to go with it…. I do believe I’m officially a caver (don’t tell my mother haha) and I guess that makes us a caving couple hahah….  How many people can say that hahah….
So anyway a rough start led to an amazing weekend and a new fun hobby. Oh and I found out later that that first cave is considered one of the hardest “intermediate” caves that there are and a lot of people were amazed that that was my first ever cave…. Maybe ill have to go back and tackle again so I can say I defeated it unafraid…..
I still have a lot to learn but Phil is a good teacher and my next big thing will be carrying my own backpack hahaha

Random off subject side note: while I was gone my friend Teresia got engaged to her boyfriend Christopher!!! I AM SOOOOOO EXCITED FOR HER!!!! Congrats again T!!!  Love you tons!!!!

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