Caving Festival

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"Bring clothes you don't mind trashing,"  they said.

"It can't be that muddy," I said...

This caving festival opened my eyes to a new kind of dirty and adventure. First of all, the setup was a unique one with a bunch of caving enthusiasts camped out on someone's large property with music, barbecue, and camp fires. 

We only did one day of caving which wound up being ok, considering the adventure that was to come.

We entered Hollow Ridge cave and started off finding a huge viewing room with crazy structures that looked like crystals and giant lady parts. A "lights out" had us in the darkest moment I've ever experienced. I started out feeling pretty confident, feeling the benefit of the ab part of yoga classes kicking in.

We continued on and started a tight section where I kept hitting my head on the top, so I just chose to look down and crawl forward. My light fell off my helmet getting covered with mud, so not really doing its job in any way at this point. I reattached it but it fell off again, this time to its tangled demise. So I was inching my way with a mangled mess in my hands that kept getting stuck in the mud and causing so much extra trouble. Then the mud continually pulled my kneepads down to my ankles and my pants a little too far down. I surrendered to both of those struggles and just apologized to the crawler behind. I imagine they couldn't see anyway.

"What's it look like up there?" One of us periodically shouts to our guide.
"We're on the right track!" 
So we trusted and kept snaking along.

Finally, after maybe 20 minutes of lurking through the mud, we hear a "Welp, we gotta turn back!" come from the front. We wiggled around and back we went through the pancake space. This time we've discovered a new technique of rolling to save energy whenever it was tall enough. We finally made it out after what we guessed to be two hours.

Our concluding bath and float in the Chipola river was a magnificent feeling. The chilly water freeing our bodies from layers of mud... a view of the bright blue sky and gorgeous Florida trees above while floating in the water... Heavenly. I wish I could share that picture from my brain with you guys.

Who else is into caving?! I imagine anyone that does it has at least one story. At the time, we were glad we didn't know what was in store or we might not have done it but certainly felt accomplished.

This sport is wacky, and I'd totally do it again. 



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