Spiritual Caving

3 06 2012

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 Explorer... Coming Out Of A Tight Squeeze Called "The Rat Hole"

The Explorer… Coming Out Of A Tight Squeeze Called “The Rat Hole”

Stalactites, Stalagmites, Bacon Strips and Other Cave Formations Beneath The Surface

Stalactites, Stalagmites, Bacon Strips and Other Cave Formations Beneath The Surface

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.

On the Surface Again

On the Surface Again

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




10 responses

3 06 2012
Brenda A.

So cool! I do love caves overall but have some issues with tight spaces. Good for you pushing through. Always inspirational to see others go beyond their own comfort zones. 🙂

20 06 2012

Agreed. Where are you fine ladies now? I haven’t seen a post in over a month!

See you on the road this summer? 🙂

4 06 2012

“Spark in the dark!” — Back in the 60s when I was a teenager we did that with wintergreen lifesavers. Thanks for the memory jog. 😀

20 06 2012

So the magic worked back then too, ey? Glad to bring it all back. 😀

4 06 2012

That looks amazing! It’s been astounding to realize how prevalent caves are in the US… something I had never known (or thought about, I suppose).

20 06 2012

True. We miss you guys – meet up at Yellowstone this summer? 🙂

5 06 2012

Dear Ayo and Yaya, just found an orange card you left with me in San Diego and ventured onto this blog. Glad to read you are still enjoying yourselves (in Texas of all places). Caving looks amazing, including squizing thru holes…Wishing you all the best! when are you heading west again? I need buddies for bicycle rides…

20 06 2012

Irit! Come visit us on the road.

Ruthie was actually in Austin last week, so Yair had the pleasure of seeing her and I visited San Francisco a couple of months back. We don’t currently have plans to be in San Diego, but I’ll let you know if that changes.

Sending love your way!

18 06 2012


20 06 2012


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