A couple of weeks ago, Yair and I joined the UT caving group for an underground expedition. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I wanted to push myself just outside my comfort zone to explore the world below.
Upon arrival, we geared up with knee pads, elbow pads, a helmet, headlamp, gloves and clothes that we might never see clean again. One by one, we descended down a long ladder into the depths and I focused on my breath and keeping the atmosphere light. I wasn’t going to hyperventilate and I could do this.
The group paused at the bottom of the ladder in a large room to hang out for a moment and adjust. Over the next 3-4 hours, there would be several such pauses where we would learn about the geology of the cave and take a much-welcomed break from crawling on our hands and knees or slithering through openings fondly called “birth canals”.
The formations were really cool with stalactites, stalagmites, mini cities of crystal and strips of cave bacon. It was wild to reflect on there being a whole world just beneath the surface of the ground, not to mention whatever might exist deeper down, in the oceans and in outer space.
Perhaps the coolest phenomenon happened when we turned off our head lamps and sat in the darkness. The trip leader distributed spearmint candies to each of us with the instructions to turn to a partner, put the candy on our molars and begin chomping.
Without warning or being told what to expect, bright sparks of light starting flying from the candies with each bite as the sugar crystals were broken and the energy was released. I have NO IDEA how in the world it worked and it may be basic science, but I was nevertheless blown away and this added a super spiritual dimension to the caving.
Yair turned back with most of the group at the end of our designated travel path, but I continued on with three of the trip leaders to the end of the cave – which involved a lot of wriggling on my tummy. By the end of the evening, I was stoked. I had explored a new part of the world, taken on an activity potentially outside my comfort zone, gone to the ends of the cave with the leaders and likely had illegally high levels of seratonin (happy) pumping through my body.
I’m not sure if or when I’ll go back, but what an amazing time!
posted by ayo