cave camping

Last weekend I spent 21 hours underground because I thought it would be a great adventure and three friends agreed. We loaded our packs, drove out to the cow pasture that is a hill, walked to the top of a hill and then descended into the cave. As soon as we entered the cave, time stood still. Shadows did not grow longer, the night darker, or the morning brighter. It was always fully dark save the light we created.

Above ground there were still melting icicles, but underneath it remained a balmy 50 degrees – warm when moving and cold when sitting on stone surrounded by damp air. We sweated as we climbed over and under fallen rocks (once the cave ceilings), explored tunnels, and wiggled (or rolled) through narrow passage ways. Then we added layers of clothes as we ate good food, drank happy drinks, played card and dice games, and pondered life into a (perfect) small fire. The morning (though not the light) brought the same in reverse – food and then spelunking. All of it filled with the smiles and laughter of shared adventure.

Here is the thing about last  weekend: it was fully our adventure, our fun. The space was dark and the rocks cold. It could have been a frightful space, but instead was a joyous space. We carried crazy amounts of stuff for one night. But, in return, we ate hot meals, drank rum-spiked hot chocolate, had home-made apple pie, plenty of warmth, fire wood, candles, games, and toilet paper. We left nothing behind and brought out some trash left by others. It was awesome, but there is one thing I will do differently next time. Next time I will bring a table cloth.

I love Jack, my Subaru. He faithful carries adventure necessities.

The adventurers. Please note general cleanliness and pack size for one night.

Men making chairs.

Friends making dinner.

Making the perfect fire. No matches required.

Enjoying the perfect fire. Seemed like there should have been stars above. Instead there were rocks.

Triumphant and dirty.

It is an unwritten rule: backwoods adventures must end with a meal at a diner.

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