Saturday, June 28, 2008

Spe- Whating?

So what was the next challenge? I really liked Wind Cave, SD, one of the lesser known Natl Parks. The basic tours, one of which we went on, is guided through walkways and paths, sometimes uneven, and with lots of steps (~ 400). We saw some lovely cave formations called boxwork and popcorn. This is a long cave (4th longest in the world), pretty safe, and with no bats or snakes. Also none of the forms we often associate with caves -- stalactites or stalagmites.
But the tour consisted of 40 of us being guided through and we sat on stone benches to listen to the naturalist's explanations. Somewhat like a theme-park attraction.

I noticed another more advanced tour. Its description follows:

"The Wind Cave Crawling Tour is a way for visitors to explore the cave away from developed trails. During this 4-hour tour visitors will be introduced to basic and safe caving. Park staff asks that you wear old clothes and gloves for this tour because much of the trip involves crawling. Long pants, long-sleeved shirts and sturdy, lace-up boots or shoes with non-slip soles are also required. Wind Cave will provide participants with hard hats, lights and knee pads. This tour is limited to 10 people and the minimum age is 16. Wind Cave requires a release form be signed for participants under 17. Please don’t bring jewelry, watches or other valuables on this tour."

I was attracted but anxious. Did I really want to do this? Could I? I mused that what would be tested would be my comfort level rather than my safety. Reasonably comfortable with my decision, Alan and I met our group on Friday afternoon and they were all younger than us and I was the only female! What was I getting myself into?

We were told that approx 1000 people tour the cave on any given day but only ten do it at this level.

Graded very strenuous -- it was challenging with much crawling, both on belly and back, through some very small passageways (~10 inches), and climbing as well.
I gasped when I saw some of the smaller squeezes or higher narrow climbs, wondering can I, how will I do this?
We were led into some large cave rooms,sat on the rocks, and saw some wonderful cave features not seen anywhere else.
We had a great guide, Scott, and a energetic and helpful group.
I was fatigued by the end of it -- and more willing to admit it than the guys. Having faced both physical and mental challenges, I was also exhilarated. More spelunking anyone?

1 comment:

rebecca said...

I foresee you rafting down the Grand Canyon by the end of the trip!