Romance And Adventure
Its 1972, I was an very young freshman at a West Virginia College and I'm with my girl friend Cindy who was dressed for a hike ..p.. and a picnic.
See I've found a place
a place That I'd heard about from some local farmers..
A place that I am very excited about,
a place that I told Cindy we'd have this
"day time" candle lite picnic"
Cindy was really nice, we had lots of great times together, great smile, had a good sense of humor (at least she laughed at my jokes). One day I said that I’d be away for the weekend "looking for EXCITEMENT AND ADVENTURE" and Cindy said “well can’t I come” Maybe shes someone special
So here we were, I picked up the backpack full of the blankets, candles and picnic stuff. turned to Cindy and I handed her a ..p.. miners caving hat ..p.. and said. "Welcome to Bowden cave" She looked at the cliff and the large cave opening, looked at the hat and me, .. “you've been here before?” "No but it will be an Adventure"
So I figured out how to lite the flame on the Miners old fashion head lamp and we started walking in, soon stooping around the fallen rocks, then crawling on hands and knees , pushing the backpack. she asked about bats and spider, but I kind of ignored her because I knew that if we just got into the cave, it would be wonderful.
And soon it was!!
We stepped forward into a room like a grand underground ball room a huge cavern, my headlamp didn't reach far and the sounds were lost in the musty, cold distance. I looked around for a good picnic spot, maybe sipping wine with a view of The underground black roaring river, or is there a sandy spot for our blanket at the base of a majestic white crystalline columns. And We would have a wonderful picnic story,
And then the story changed, with a POP ..p..
I looked at Cindy's head lamp and noticed a small flame coming from the side of it so I knocked it to the floor, then POP POP, and I dropped mine to the floor and I stood there staring at the flames of the headlamps in a heap burning,
but I knew every thing was going to be OK, I could fix this
I'll have to add "test headlamp" on the to-do list when we get back.
And then I had this incredible pain in my arm, Cindy was squeezing my arm in a vice grip and staring behind us at the darkening room at the fading flickering shadows as the fire started to dye down.
"Not to worry,"
I said, "I read that you should always have 3 sources of light", so reaching into the backpack I pulled out 2 flash lights, turning hers on, but its light was kind of yellow, and and mine started to flicker.
"oops, have to add "check batteries" onto the to-do list"
I told her that the #1 rule is that it's best to stay calm in a crisis. I lit two candles, and handed one to Cindy. Her's was shaking, maybe she was a little worried,
[[-- this is cut for the shorter version
Creeping down the shelf above the sound of the black roar of the river below us. When the shelf got to small I jumped across to the other side, !! and my candle blew out!!! Leaning between the cold wet stone and the black river I relite the candle, then helped Cindy jump across and relight her candle. She was now making some sort of funny staccato sound, hee.hee.hee.hee very anoying. We finally made it to the big room,
we could only see a little of the floor in the wavering yellow light as we slowly walked surrounded by absolute blackness not sure of the right direction out. Finally at the exit wall.
My Confidence suddenly evaporated ...p...
THE WALL WAS Riddled with TUNNELS,
I hadn't looked back at the wall when we came into the cave to see which crawl way we came out of
and none of the tunnels looked familiar.
Cindy was no longer communicating, she looked glassy eyed and far away, so I sat her down on the floor with her candle and went over to the wall, I would have to crawl alone into them, by candlelit, one at a time. Finally after several I found one,
I knew this was not the right crawl-way,
maybe I'd be stuck here,
maybe my candle would go out,
maybe I had led Cindy into a danger that I couldn't fix.
Feeling The mountain of cold hard rock pressing on my back as I crawled, my belly wet and slick with mud,
What had I done.
I did not want to be the kind of person that led someone into danger,
but I kept going, I thought that I was seeing some light, then I thought I was hearing a sound. I said a small prayer of thanks, as pulled my self out of the crawlway and stood up into the light ..p..
OF ANOTHER CAVER
WHO WAS WEEPING
IT was Cindy!!
The crawl way had looped back into the same room, I raised my candle wondering how long we had till it burned out. And poor Cindy and me are lost, alone, in the blackness. Then I noticed a shadow. Stepping forward I saw a rock a bolder, and behind that rock was the well worn crawl-way, we were saved, I could feel the warm air from the day outside. Stepping out, I yelled
Cindy we made it!!
The euphoria of the warmth, the sunshine, it was like a rebirth, (?maybe like an escape from the fear of death? )
I wanted to hug Cindy, but she was quiet, I said i was sorry,
She not talking to me. I said I was sorry, for putting her life in danger
But looking back, I can see why I never dated her again.
And I needed to Care more and be responsible.
And always check my to do list.
Symbol ..p.. is for “Pause Here”
caving carries the lure of the unknown and the thrill of discovery.
What do you find down there? The answers are as varied as the caves themselves: mud; beautiful rock formations and rubble; water and dust; vast rooms and tight crawl ways; awesome rivers and puddles; strange and fragile animals; deep pits and waterfalls; and, of course, strange people like yourself.
One finds, eventually, whatever one is looking for inside your self.
(for a warm up and because this is the true background of this story)
I was remembering back to my first year at college in west Virginia,
I wanted to have fun, but I also was thinking of the future.
Its my Dad’s fault, looking at my dad, married steadily for many years, I wanted to know who I’d be compatible with, So I came up with a test I called the WATs “Wife Achievement Tests”, Although I wasn’t ready to be married, I wanted to find a compatible partner, one that could cook, setup a tent, and enjoyed Adventures.
This one woman college girl I dated, and she was always around, laughed at my jokes, was cute, easy to talk to.
So I told her that I was going to be away Saturday looking for an adventure,
and she said “can I come”. Well wow, this is a good sign.
Note that it was said recently to me "so how much of this is true". Well all of it. BUT NOTE that in our lives, in our heads, when we are going through an extreme situation there are multiple voices.
This day in this cave when the lights started to go out there was,
a voice of calm reason
a voice of absolute panic
a voice of abstract outer view
And probably many others. I have actually told this story from those other internal voices to people and groups. These are what I call the "Colors" in a story. For example if you stare at a tree in the fall, it is full of colors, it is a beautiful fall tree, a beautiful vibrant red leafed tree, it is a beautiful forest floor of fallen yellows, a tree of gently falling sounds, and on and on .... The story then is the same, but can be seen through different colors, or voices.
In this story, as the lanterns where on fire, one voice said to my self, "have to put on the prep list to check carbide lantern gaskets , and later "have to put extra batteries on the check list" and finally "have to remember to alway look behind you". And abstract outer type voice. But the best most liked voice is the voice full of emotion and energy, this is the voice most of us can identify with, because this is the voice that echo's our heart rate and the voice we try to control.
And to these internal voices I give some credit that in future caving experiences where survived. (I am still here) And survived with less of a close call, auuu not totally true, at least not close calls of the same kind. It is said often (might be just by me but I might have heard it somewhere) "A lesson learned the hard way is a lesson learned forever". Enjoy.