Anatomy of a Cave Crawl aka My Afternoon in Hell

A few years back, when I was dating a guy named Steve, I made a brilliant decision to take all 6’4″ of him on a cave crawl camping weekend.

I’d never done  a cave crawl.  I didn’t know what one was like.  It just sounded different and cool.  And it was organized by one of the groups I went on adventures with.  So I signed up.

The cave crawl begins with the leader trying to break you until you crack.  They want to weed out the people who can’t handle it while you’re still close to the surface and can exit quickly.

I watched as our leader disappeared down a hole in the ground.  We all followed blindly.  There was a backup in the crack.  We were all pinned in place waiting for the person in front of us to move.

Heavy breathing, but I emerged.

They’re not kidding when they call it a crawl.  I spent more time on my belly slithering through cracks in the ground than standing upright.  The few times I did walk, the mud was so thick it almost ripped my boots off my feet (we called it sole-sucking mud).

I slithered down  a 6 foot long hole too small to fit a regulation basketball down.  I emerged in the “Womb Room” – a tiny domed room about 1o feet across and 4 feet high.  A giant man followed me down the hole.  My date refused.  The woman in the room with me started to panic.  She left right away.  Then the big guy.  Only he got stuck trying to exit the hole long enough for me to panic.  Finally, I emerged and swore “NEVER AGAIN!”

I can’t lie and say it was all bad though.  Three things stuck me as being fun the and I still think about them now –

  1. Rafting across an underground lake, beautiful and still in the darkness.
  2. Sticking my head into a small cave covered in white crystals like the night sky.
  3. Taking a bath in a trough after the crawl in order to clean up. (You know I like alternative bathing practices)

If you must know, I REALLY hope I never do another cave crawl ever again.  I have no urge to repeat the experience and spend three hours fighting panic attacks waist deep  in mud while hitting my hardhat on low hanging rocks.

Call me crazy.

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