Adventure #12-Spelunking in West Virginia

Still clueless on what lie ahead

What is spelunking you ask?  By definition it is the hobby or practice of exploring caves.  Google Images tells a different story as we found out on our car ride to WVA.  Don’t look.  It scarred us for life and I would like to save you from the same fate.

Ok, are you back from checking out google images?  Told you so.   Let’s just wipe those images from our minds and move on.

We are kind of obsessive compulsive.

The final email (or at least what our planners thought would be our final email) went something like this:

You will need:

Driver’s license and medical insurance card

·      Large trash bag

·      Bottled Water (several)

·      Food that does not need refrigeration (dinner will be very late so you might want to bring a hearty snack or sandwich)

·      Small backpack/sack for your belongings

OLD CLOTHES THAT YOU DO NOT MIND GETTING DESTROYED

·      Wool or synthetic socks (not cotton)

·      Non-cotton long underwear (polypropylene, wool or synthetic blend)

·      Sturdy, close-toed shoes or boots

·      Long pants and long-sleeved shirt

·      Rain gear if there is rain in the forecast

·      Complete change of clothes, including shoes, socks and underwear!

·      Hat/Bandana

·      Thin Gloves

This email started a thread that went into the high 2 digits.  While most were concerned about the clothing requirements I was most concerned about the food.  Why would we need hearty food and extra hearty snacks.  Will we be gone for a long while?  I carefully and methodically planned my food as if my life depended on it…it turns out that it could have.  More on that later.

Later that same day as part of the marathon thread:

Kelly: “Can you provide details like….if the average car gets 25 mpg, how many gallons of gas should the designated driver have in her car for the distance of the adventure….?”

Tracy: “That sounded like a Kat question.”

Stacy: “It’s always prudent to drive with plenty of gas.”

Kat: “This is insanity.”

Maryhelen: “Stacy, I saw the Fruit of Loom thermal blend for $8 on the end cap but it had cotton in it, is that okay? Sorry I’m being a pain:) just want to make sure gig the tigg gear:)

Maryhelen: “LMAO, autocorrected.”

And so it went for about another 40 emails.  I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at what it is like the week prior to EVERY adventure.  It is madness and I love every minute of it.

After our Deliverance inspired drive to West Virginia we finally arrived at Whitings Neck.  We met our tour guide, Eriq, and started the mile or two hike to the cave.

We kind of have small bladders.

When we arrived we were told we would be in the cave for 3-4 hours so if we had to “pee-pee” now would probably be the time.  A few of us headed to what we hoped was a good private spot.  Walking away we spotted “poo-poo” that was not human sized.  What in the world were we doing there?

famous side note: Eriq said there was a port-o-pottie, but there is a mouse that lives in there.  He let us know he probably wouldn’t bother us.  Umm…yeah, we will take our chances with the bears instead.

We are kind of clairvoyant

We always try to guess what our adventure guide will look like on our way to each adventure.  We hit the nail on the head with Eriq.  30 something, facial hair, athletic build, and married.   Here he is with our two planners of the day, Tina and Stacy.

So here we go.  It started as it always does, with me turning to whoever is next to me (this time Stacy) and whispering “I don’t think I can do this.”  I always hear a confidant, “yes, you can.”  It works every time.  I was first to head into what looked like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.

 One by one we entered the cave and headed down the ladder and then up another ladder to what will be the “no turning back 75 foot tunnel.”  Here are some of us right before that wretched hole of death.

Before the Crawl

The crawl was so difficult.  Eriq had just completed what he said was a “french repel” which made sense to us.  We were already convinced that he was indeed french because his name ended in a Q instead of the typical C.  He became Er-reeq from that point on.

Back to the crawl of death.  I can’t remember much except that I wanted it to end.  You couldn’t move your head and basically had to do an Army crawl to the end.  It was wet, muddy and when we finally reached the end we were beyond happy.

We kind of freak out easily.

Every so often, Eriq would try to put us at ease.  One time he let us know that the key to his car was in his backpack just in case.  Another time he let us know he had short-term memory to which one of the gals said, “Do you at least remember how to get us out of here?” He also pointed to holes and said those can shatter ankles.  In all seriousness, he was extremely comforting, knowledgeable and funny!

We kind of enjoy food.

Everything is the cave is named after food.  There was The Wedding Cake, The Donut Hole, The Pancake Cave, The Popcorn Cave, etc.  You get the idea.  We had only been in the cave for 25 minutes and this group was already starving.  When Eriq said, “this formation looks like bacon.”  Heather said, “mmm….Bacon. I like bacon.”  It made me giggle and reminded me of a certain commercial when the couple talks about nutmeg.  You know the one?

We continued exploring the cave and let me tell you this is tough.  Eriq was shocked we were doing this BEFORE sky-diving.  It was definitely a “constant state of fear” as one girl put it.  There is no relaxation time.  You are constantly challenged mentally and physically.  But, I have to say I really started to enjoy it until we spotted this…………

The baby

Who does that?  She was sitting on a rock that was right in front of you when you exited a teeny tiny hole.  She startled all of us.  Especially Tina, who even after 5 minutes of standing near The Baby said, “she’s not real, right?”  YUP, the cave air was making us loopy.

We kind of ALWAYS laugh at the immature stuff. 

There was a cave that required us to go down a slope to get in.  Eriq yelled, “Are you ready to go downtown?”  Say what?  After much laughing he said, “bad choice of words.”  Honestly, I wonder if other women our age would find that so funny.  Do you? Somehow I think if you are reading this blog you do….and we salute you!  Here’s to being 21 in spirit for life!

We kind of always have a Star for each adventure.

This adventure it was dear Kelly.  We were given the chance to go down the donut hole.  We would have to go across a large crevasse.  If you don’t know what that is, Kelly will tell you “it is french for crevice.”  She cracks me up.  All, but Kelly declined.  She kind of rocked that one.   Way to go!

We kind of like to snuggle.

Which is why we decided that yes, we would like to belly crawl into the Pancake cave.  One by one we slithered in and made room for the next.  As I so eloquently pointed out, “the pancake cave is not made for us big-bottomed girls.”  I decided to try the roll method.  If you ever find yourself in a cave, don’t do it.  Especially if you, too, happen to be a big bottomed girl.   Here we are, all snuggled up in the Pancake Cave.  Now quick, take the dang picture.  Maryhelen HAS to get out here, now.

The Pancake Cave

We kind of always come through CLOSER, STRONGER, BRAVER.

I know it goes without saying, but I could never do these crazy things without these girls.   They are forever changing my mind about where my limit is and that the beautiful, adventurous moments are sweeter when shared.  My hope is that I do the same for them.  If for some reason we were ever trapped in a cave I could depend on each for something different that when put together would keep us alive (at least for a few hours.)

Stacy would help keep us calm by showing us different uses for our Wal-Mart bandanas.  And would also let us know when “Big A** Holes” are ahead.

Stacy

Maryhelen would make sure that we knew of all dangers that could exist in the cave.  Earthquakes, falling spiders that turn out to be rocks, etc.  We would be aware with MH there.

Maryhelen

Heather would hit us with one-liners when we are at our lowest.  She would also convince us that the Bacon rock was real and that we should attempt to eat it.  MMM….Bacon.

Heather

Tina, would be the nurturer and mother figure for all of us.  She would rock us, love us and feed us her smushed peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  She would also do all of the above for The Baby.

Tina

Kelly would, well, to be honest, Kelly would be our only chance of getting out.  Most likely we would send her into holes and crevasses and have her report back to us if that is the way out.  If not, we send her to the next hole. We would cheer her on, though.  We aren’t animals.

Kelly

Suzy would make sure we kept our wits about us.  She would not let us stray from happy thoughts.  She would be steady and rock-like.  If all else failed she would allow us to hold her hand.

Suzy

Kat would panic. She would roll.  She would try to steal Tina’s pb&j sandwich. But, then she would look around.  She would see the 6 other girls that have her back, feel a deep sense of calm and she would say, “this is going to make for a kick-a** blog post, ladies.”

Kat

Thank you again to Tina and Stacy who planned this magnificent adventure.  Thank you to our patient guide, Eriq! We survived!

The End

We missed you Tracy (lives in Kansas now), Patty (had another party she had to attend) and Lisa (just got through foot surgery).  We wish you had been there!  NEXT TIME!

Next Adventure:  March 3rd.  PLEASE let it be in WIDE, open spaces.

One more photo of the wall of slippery rock we had to make our way up….

Wall of Doom

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5 thoughts on “Adventure #12-Spelunking in West Virginia

  1. If you were listening to me reading this, you would hear me laughing, then say “I could never do that,” or “Omg, nope, couldn’t do it.” Then more laughing. How incredible! I am in awe of you ladies! As always, wonderfully written. You have such a way of making the reader feel the spirit of each adventure. I look forward to the next. Xo

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