Adventure goes underground
- the exploration of caves:
That’s the literal definition of spelunking. Doesn’t quite touch on what it really is. The definition doesn’t really bring any visual images in my mind. Images of exploring an unknown world. A world that is mostly in the dark except for the light you bring.
This isn’t one for the non-adventurous or the claustrophobic.
For those that are adventurous, and don't mind confined spaces, or creepy crawlies, or any of the other things that might possible be in there, this can be the chance of a lifetime. An entirely unexplored world. New creatures and mysteries await. You might be the first person to find some new creature living there.
You might even get to name it.
Caves can be a place your imagination might not be able to compete with the reality you might find. Yeah, it can be creepy, or amazing. There are some amazing caves in the world too. Like the crystal ones.
But all of them need to be explored with caution or with people who really know what they are doing in there. The guided tours of caves are probably the best place to start, or a concert underground. yeah, they have that too.
Got a mental picture now. Websters and their literal definitions don't always DEFINE the word they are trying to. Writers know this better than most.
Before you just go jumping into a cave looking for the unknown you need to bring some things with you. Nothing too fancy. Just essentials to explore.
The main one is light. Once you get past the entrance there might not be any. The general best practices are 3 sources of light. For the “probably won't but could happens”. You need to prepare for them anytime you go into the unknown. ANYTIME!
The boy scout motto “Always be prepared”.
- Head Lamp - Simple. A lamp that you wear on your head. Lots of different kinds of these. Pick one based on budget and preference.
- Flashlight - Handheld source of light. Good for the “Hey what’s over there's”. Easy to aim, easy to use. Some of the LED ones are amazing. Same as with headlamp, Budget and preference based
- Lantern - Maybe won’t be a necessity; Sits on the ground or held; illuminates light in all directions. If you're stopping for a bit or staying overnight, they are great.
- Shoe lights - They attach to your shoes; Work very well; always knowing where you are stepping can be great. Not a necessity.
The other gear really depends on the cave. But a basic list
- Waterproof boots - Caves are usually damp
- Helmet - Things fall; protect your head
- Clothing - Depends on cave; It will get colder the deeper you go
- Backpack - To carry your stuff
- Extra clothes mainly socks - In case you get wet; wet feet are the worst
- Gloves - A good idea but not a “No you can’t”.
- Food and water - use common sense; always bring water; you don’t know what’s in the water in there; safety first
- First aid kit - Always a great idea to carry one wherever you go
Before you just go wandering off into a cave you don’t know, do a little research. Check online. Talk to guides in the area. Take your time. If it gets too much back out. Make sure people know where you are going. Go with a guide. Check with the rangers on any regulations.
- If it’s your first time, stick to places you can walk or crawl to.
- No dropping ropes and rappelling down into places you aren’t sure of. These places are for people with a lot of experience. Not beginners.
- Being smart here is better than being courageous. Foolhardy gets you hurt in there.
- Better to say no and walk away than to say yes and have to get carried out.
- Wish these things were actually common sense but they are not
So, before you go trotting off into a deep, dark, wet cave, go to the ones made for trips. The ones that have scheduled tours through them. The ones that have concerts in them.
Then maybe work your way up to a guided exploration into one that is not lit up. Make some friends in the caving world. Watch videos. Google spelunking. Work your way up to repelling down an unknown vast of darkness.
If this is for you, kudos. If it’s not there is no shame. Crawling around in damp, dark places looking for something no one has seen before isn’t for everyone. But everyone should at least see what it’s like in a cave. At least once in your life. It is another world right here on ours and it is part of the world God created.
I’ll let you in on another little secret, there’s quite a few new worlds out there: In the outdoors.
Go EXPLORE! But be safe!