The Depths of the Earth

cavingtitle

Last week I went caving with some friends. We spent 3ish hours exploring the largest, most spectacular cave in the Adirondacks.

cavingbeforeafter

Here I am before and after the dirtiest adventure of my life (pay no attention to the faces I’m making, the latter doesn’t describe what I was feeling at all).

cavinghike1

To get to the mouth of the cave, we had to hike run up a mountain. Boys like to run up big things. As you see in the photo above, running up big things isn’t what I’m best at. My jello legs didn’t even want to sit, they wanted to nap by the time we got to the mouth of the cave. Thank goodness for gorp; protein and simple sugar saved the day.

cavinghike2

The view made running up Mt. Everest worth it. Unfortunately we didn’t stay here for long; the men we eager to explore the depths of the earth. I was eager to nap. So we pressed on, jello legs and all.

cavingmap1

So in order to give you the full-effect of the awesomeness and confusion that is Eagle Cave, I must show you the maps. Each one of these maps is another level, sort-of like stories in a building.

cavingmap3

We got down to the bat cave and dropped our bags so we could explore in freedom. This was the biggest room closest to the mouth of the cave. Our guide was quick to point out all the holes one could fall into. Steer clear of those.

cavingmap4

We broke it down in the breakdown room (bottom center). There was almost two full minutes of beat boxing and techno, synthesizer-esque sounds. Stellar.

cavingmap2

This is the bottom (maybe) of the cave. Most people make it to the ice room (in the center-ish of the map) and call it a day. We took to the edge of the map before heading back out. Our time spent exploring past the ice room was the coolest thing I’ve ever done.

cavingrappel1

Meet The Little Rock Man, our fearless leader/guide. The things this man can do with a rope and a big rock blows me away. TLRM made sure we had the appropriate gear (Never go caving without a helmet, by the way. I probably would have died seriously injured my cranium without mine.) and handled things safely the entire trip. And he’s also a good friend (the best type of guide you can have). Without him, the trip could have gone really sour, but he also made the day as relaxing as mountain-marathoning and interior-mountaineering can get.

I digress. Back to my tale:
cavingrappel2

Here we are getting ready for what TLRM called a fireman’s rappel. Who knew that one could rappel without a harness? To be honest, I was a bit nervous about this stage of the expedition, but it quickly turned into (once again) the coolest part. Rappelling without a harness is possible! I was shocked/giddy to find out that this worked.

cavingrappel3

Here I am (in the center of  Mt. Everest) awaiting my decent into Mordor. TLRM went down first and spotted us from below. I was next to go and almost fell. The awkward funny part about almost falling is that my spotter held me by my prosterior caught me and guided me for the duration of the 8ft decent. I promised to write him a thank you note after the event.

[We don’t have pictures of the next stage of our journey, for we left the cameras behind]

After our decent, we found ourselves in a room that was probably 8 feet wide on one end and 2 feet wide on the other. My assumption was that we had reached the edge of the center of the world and there was no further to go (unless, of course, you were destined for China). TLRM knew better (he had the map) and suggested we climb the wall on the other side of the room.

Hence the second coolest part of the trip: free climbing ice-cold, wet rock 15 feet up. It wasn’t a difficult climb (all parties had rock climbed before and had an idea of what our appendages were supposed to do) and it was wedged up against another slab of rock which made it easier to brace one’s self (and get mighty-stuck). I learned how to mantle in Mordor.

That led us to the edge of the map and to the coldest part of the cave. From there, the only place to go was back out.
cavingeat

After climbing back down the ice-cold wall, we made our way back to our gear where snacks and water awaited. Check out how dirty my pants are. Which leads me to my next point about gear: never go caving in shorts. I wore my thickest jeans and still destroyed my legs.

cavingportraits2

Here’s the group (from left to right): Animal, The Rose, The Little Rock Man, The Bear, and yours truly

cavingdirty

And here we are at the mouth of the cave, post-descent into the depths of the earth.

Are you ready for the third-coolest part of the trip?

cavingsun1

We hiked down during golden hour. And by hiked, I mean some of us bounded and some of us walked gingerly.

cavingsun2

cavingsun3

Thanks to The Bear and The Rose for bringing cameras; mine would have been smashed to smithereens.

Cheers!

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3 thoughts on “The Depths of the Earth

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