"My First Caving Experience"

with photo evidence

1300 hrs 3/22 - 0300 hrs 3/27 Cast of characters:

September 2002

By: Cameron Sadegh

After a sleepy three hour drive to a remote site in Clarksville, NY, we readied our caving gear (warm clothes, helmet and helmet light, backpack, emergency blanket, water, snacks, two emergency flashlights, knife, and batteries) and proceeded to walk to the cave.When we had first gathered at the site of the cave, I was at first a little confused.We circled around a few large rocks encircling a small hole.For a moment, I thought we were admiring the work of an animal (don't ask me why!) or some interesting rock formation.Then I decided to look inside really quickly.After a quick peek, I apologized for taking up anyone's time, and asked how much further the cave was down the trail.Then I was told that the hole we had just been staring at was an entrance to the cave."Oh!"So that was the start of our caving adventure.We then began crawling into spaces much more cramped than I had expected.From the looks of it, the holes did not seem to go anywhere.However, as you crawl forward, you see more of the cave's path.Furthermore, the inside of a cave is pitch black, so you can only see what is in the direction of your helmet light.

It was hardly comfortable to stand up during our caving adventure, so we were mostly crawling and crouching.Often times, we had to snake through tight passages on our stomachs.All along we marveled at some of the natural aspects of the cave, such as the water droplets on the rocks and myriad interesting rock formations.Part of the reason the cave is all connected is that water had seeped the whole way through and gradually carved the rocks many years ago.Anyway, we then reached areas where the depth of the cave went below the level of water in the cave.So I found myself wading through frigid thigh-high water to continue on with the cave.We then reached other wet areas along our caving route, sometimes waist-high in a narrow passage.(which required us to crouch and travel through the cold water in that position!)Other than crawling and wading in the cave, we also did a bit of exploring.The cave is not like a tunnel, there are many little tunnels that branch off, and it was fun trying to see where they went.Okay, so we this continued for about two hours.Then we got out of the cave and took a break before continuing for another two hours or so.

On the last part of our caving adventure, I was told to crawl into a tiny hole.I was very hesitant at first, but because I had faith in my fellow spelunkers, I listened and crawled headfirst in one of the most narrow enclosures I had ever been in.It was slightly frightening because I knew I wouldn't be able to turn around, let alone lift myself from the position on my stomach.Also, it was difficult to travel any further, because we had to squirm over and around rocks in our narrow path.After what seemed to be a very long time, I finally "saw the light at the end of the tunnel!"This made the last section of my crawling more comforting.When I finally got far enough where I could look up at the daylight, I saw that I was about ten feet away from the surface, and the view was marvelous looking up from a hole in the ground.After we all climbed out, we were fully satisfied with our day of exploration.It was quite an experience!(and we have pretty neat photos to prove it!)I hadn't expected the adventure to be anything like what it was, mainly because I had never seen real caving (except in movies where people walk inside a large rock enclosure with stalactites and bats etc).So I thought this was a marvelous first experience with caving and I hope to do this again soon.