The Trail Down Below

Most people think when you hike a trail you are hiking in the woods. Whether it’s a State Park, National Park or a Recreation Area, you visualize a place where the sun is shining and nature is bursting with noise. You probably never think about pitch black silence where the abyss of darkness is your view, or non view.

That’s exactly what caving is like. Squeezing down a long dark hole exploring massive caves is something that I absolutely LOVE.  The challenge of exploring in the dark with nothing other than a headlamp and mud is an adventure like no other.

I get a lot of questions about caving and how is it I’m not terrified about squeezing through tiny holes hundreds of feet below in the dark. My answer to that is simple. It’s just another trail.  You would be surprised that down below in caves that there is sometimes a trail system with waterfalls, creeks, and big “rooms” that you can stand up in. 

Each “room” sometimes has a name associated with it also. When we go to Raccoon Mountain in Chattanooga TN, they have a vast underground trail system that you can go down and actually visit the “Music Room”, where you can play different rocks and create different pitches.

Each cave you go into always has a map. So with an experienced Guide, you always follow a system that has specific routes and have already (most of the time) been explored.  There are times however, when a  new route is found. Those are the “routes” I love to explore.

Scott and I see caving much like we see a trail that is above ground. Every turn, every time you think there is nothing to see, a vast beautiful amazing view is there waiting for you to see.  Caving is nothing more than just another trail, or camping trip. You bring your gear, find a good spot to spend the night, and hike. It’s a little intimating when you spend the night in complete blackness, but the gear is almost the same. Except for a tent, you still pack a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, water, snacks, and extra dry clothes. You don’t necessarily carry a backpack, but you do carry a large duffel bag.  Of course you have a headlamp. If your smart, you have extra batteries with you.

Most caves operate at the same temperature all year round. So you can carry the same gear if you are caving in the summer as well as in the winter.

On our weekly podcast, we discussed how Scott and I went caving and how I tricked Scott into spending 7 hours exploring and spending the night.  If you want to know more about Guiding services or how to get started, please feel free to contact me or post below. I love taking people down under for their first time.

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