A Little more about Caving…

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After the first taste of caving, the yearning begins. With each caving adventure…

…the desire gets stronger and stronger until it is a ravenous hunger waiting to be fed. Although caving is an exciting sport, it can also be risky. Imagine going into a cave, crawling down at a slight decline, then coming out into a huge cavern. It takes a while to explore the cavern, but you notice a narrow tunnel about five feet above the main cavern floor. When you stand back to get a good look, it appears the new tunnel curls back towards the entrance. You didn’t notice another passage at the entrance, but the large cavern held most of your attention. Maybe the two connect! What would you do? Personally, I couldn’t resist climbing the rock wall and checking out where this new tunnel goes. However, there are many thoughts to take into consideration before leaping at an interest. Because of the narrow passages and climbs and drops in a cave, rescuing is difficult and takes a lot of time. Without the right preparation, even the simplest of injuries could become fatal. It is always important to tell someone at home where the adventure is taking place. It is also good to have at least three people in a group for a caving adventure. In case of injury, one person can stay with the injured adventurer and the other person can go for help.

Every time I go caving, I seem to return with many bumps and bruises! I soon started gathering gear to help me in my caving adventures. A helmet has been a big help when I cave. I tend to get excited and move through the tunnels quickly, which means I often hit my head along the way. Because I like to explore the small passages, my knees and elbows get really sore! I found an old pair of knee and elbow pads to use only for caving. I also find myself covered in mud, or what I like to call ‘cave dust’. It is very difficult to clean ‘cave dust’ from my clothes and I just can’t seem to convince my mom to do my laundry. I learned quickly to wear warm water resistant clothes under a pair of mechanic’s coveralls. The coveralls protect my good hiking clothes from the perils of the cave. A sturdy pair of gumboots is easy and great for walking on the damp rocks of the cave.

Upana 49 (2)Can you fathom absolute darkness? If you think space is black, or the bottom of the sea is dark, you have yet to experience absolute darkness. Did you know, the depths of a cave is the darkest dark you will experience? Desmond Tutu, a social rights activist from South Africa once said: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.” However, in a cave, you have to bring your own light! To be sure you will always have ‘hope’ in a cave, no matter how dire the adventure, three good lights are necessary to ensure safe passage.

In one particular cave, I once came to a spot where the ground disappeared and I was looking out into a HUUUGE crack in the rock. The crack was at an angle and there was little bits of water dripping everywhere.. To my dismay the exploration came to an abrupt end. After visiting the spot three times, I finally built up the courage to check out the bottom of the crack! As I descended the smooth rock to the bottom, I slowed my momentum by wedging my knees and back against the two walls of the crack. Upana 60FINALLY, I was able to explore this part of the cave! There must be another tunnel down here. I found one opening in the ground of this narrow, but long area. It was full of water. There was another opening going back the way I came. It got smaller then ended in pool of water. Cursing the fact that I’m not trained for cave diving and don’t carry any oxygen with me, I checked out the far side of the area. This side had clay on the ground and the roof was damp, but it got more and more narrow until the the two met. I had nowhere to go. Have you ever seen a rat stuck in a bucket… that’s how I felt. It was so easy to get down the long crack safely, why was it so hard to get back up again? Tired from a day of exploration, I could not grip of the smooth rock to climb out to safety. But here I am, telling you this story! This trip taught me to bring a rope no matter where I happen to be exploring, just in case…

What obstacles have you overcome?

Wild Craft Play Media Team

Donna States

Further reading about caving:

Horne Lake Caves Park

Vancouver Island Cave Exploration Group

British Columbia Speleological Federation

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