Ponder this:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We have a cave under our land.

Several years ago, two young men arrived at my house in a van with a housepainter's logo on the side. It was summer, I believe. I could see the vehicle moving down the long driveway toward the house, and expected they were lost and in need of directions. Such is our isolation here that almost nobody gets here unless they mean to. Very courteous and friendly young men, they said they were cavers and asked if they could cross our land to get down to the edge of the cliff at the end of it; there was an opening to a cave there and they wanted to get a look at it.  In the 1970s a local man and his friends had, if not "discovered" it, at least had expended a lot of energy to open the entry and map some three hundred feet of the underground passage.

The first year they stopped by every month or so to make sure we still had no objection to their using the tractor track to go down through the fields, and to bring us up to date on their progress. They had cleaned out and stabilized the opening to keep it from closing up again to some extent with every rainfall, and were beginning to be able to get inside. The idea of a mapped passage under my feet fascinates me, but I could never get in there, despite J's invitation.  

"Our" cave is not like this:
Image source
It's no more than a tunnel with the widest parts,  J says, eighteen inches. 
The narrowest part of my body is wider than eighteen inches. 
He must be a contortionist. 
He's broad-shouldered and tall, but he's been in there a little more than a hundred feet, and he's identified where he is by the map that exists. 

J stopped in three weeks ago. It was full dark. The dogs announced his arrival before I saw his headlights, so I was at the door when his van stopped and he got out and greeted me from the blackness. I greeted back and asked, "Who are you?" 
"It's J," he said, and I hailed him more heartily and invited him in. J used to be a house painter and still drives his logo-ed van though I don't know if he still paints houses; 
he seems to be employed full-time at spelunking and surveying the local bat population for white-nose syndrome.

That night he wanted us to know that he would be going down to the cave to see what he could see.
"It's dark," I said.
"It's always dark inside," he smiled.
"Oh. Right. Cold?"
He shrugged. "I have my wet-suit."

I think there's something a little different about people who don't mind going into little rat tunnels underground.  
Why Go Caving?  For enthusiasts, caving carries the lure of the unknown and the thrill of discovery. In a small group -- and usually with a trained guide -- you'll enter a labyrinthine world of narrow pathways and tight crevices, lit only by the yellow glow of your headlamp. Depending on the cave, you may have to wade through waist-high water or scale up rocky walls. If you're lucky, you'll emerge in a large underground chamber filled with dangling stalactites and adorned with colorful, intricate calcite deposits. Half the fun is getting back out.
"Half the fun?" Getting back out would be about the only reason I would stick my hand in!


Autumn Mist said...

Very interesting. I am very claustrophobic, but have managed to go into a few of the famous caves near us. Check out this link,

Barb said...

I cannot imagine caving - even traveling through the Eisenhower Tunnel on the Interstate gives me pause - I watch for the opening at the end the second we enter it. I did enjoy your story, though.

Joe Todd said...

Hi, stopped by to see how things are going.. I like to read about caves and see photos but exploring a cave not my idea of fun but that is just me. Have a great week

June said...

Aw, geeeeeeeeee, AM...that ceiling looks awwwwwwwfulllll lowwwww. :-o

Barb, tunnels, caves, that horrible bridge in Delaware that I guess isn't used anymore...I think I will be able to live happily the rest of my life without any of them.

Hey Joe! SO glad you came by! Hope your buddy's making the most of his *vacation.* You will understand me when I say if it weren't for The Club I would be in sad straits indeed.

June said...

Oh. I guess they do still use that awful bridge.
It isn't the length of it that caused my sphincters to pucker; it was the upward climb. It felt like going up a rollercoaster.

Wanda..... said...

I would never, for any amount of money go into such a small crevice...never, never, never!!!

Von said...

Fascinating!!!!Think I'll just stay here with a nice cup of tea.

Lord Wellbourne said...

Imagine!! You have a grotto under your land! That is so exciting! As for myself, I love to go spelunking and have done so many times in many places. I do not like the ones with water more than ankle deep. I have a fear of 'natural' water over a certain depth. There are so many mysteries that Mother Nature has in store for us just waiting to be revealed.