A Crazy Spelunking Story

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A Crazy Spelunking Story


Recently, I was telling my kids about this one time during college when some friends invited me to go check out a cave with them. It has been a long time, but I’m going to do my best to recall the experience here.

It was my freshman year… I’m still an introvert, but right out of high school, this was an even more difficult for me. Take a shy 18 year old, drop them in a new environment out of their comfort zone… well, it was a learning and growing experience. By the way, introversion doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be around people… I just do better with fewer people at one time.

So, these new friends of mine were a year or two older than me. They seemed to know so much more than me. And they were interested in hanging out. So, when they asked if I’d like to take one Saturday to go check out a cave, that sounded great! I already had great memories of going to caves as a kid. I had already been to at least Carlsbad Caverns, Mammoth Cave and Marvel Cave, but all of those experiences were controlled with guides on well-lit paved trails. To prepare for this experience, they told me to dress in old clothes and bring a flash light. I don’t recall much more than that.

We left early that Saturday to drive there from school… it was over an hour away. When we got there, there wasn’t a parking lot or signs or anything. We just pulled off the road and we were in the woods. We hiked a ways to the cave and then we could see it… the cave entrance seemed large and wide open. Sun light meant you could see well into the cave before you needed any flashlights.

Most of the cave entrance was pretty level, but not far in, I recall there being a ridge that we went across with dropoffs on both sides. I also remember there being ropes prior visitors had left to help guide people through. Its worth mentioning that I’m afraid of heights… I remember being afraid at this point, but I think the darkness helped.

The next section I remember is a really tight section… so tight that we had to army crawl to fit. And I seem to remember even having to twist around because it wasn’t a straight line, but more of an up, straight and then down section of crawling. I mostly remember being afraid, being very tight, and just feeling like I had to follow because I certainly couldn’t find my way back. If they could do it, surely I could, right?

After this, my memory is of a low ceiling with water up to my knees. Imagine something a bit like a lunge walk except you can’t stand up straight because you’d hit your head… but you don’t want to lower all the way because you’ll get even more soaked. I don’t remember how far this tunnel went, but I know I got soaked.

The last section I remember is a large chamber with a waterfall at the back. I think this was after the path with the water. At this point, I think we had taken 1-2 hours. We had taken lunch with us because the plan was to eat in the waterfall room, get some rest, and then head back. The trip back seemed much easier and faster than the trip in.

The last thing I remember is that, when we got back to sunlight, I was filthy. The cave was more clay than normal mud, so everything stuck to us. I’m pretty sure I ended up throwing away all of the clothes I wore there. And that’s it!

Looking back, it is one of those memories that just feels surreal, like it never happened or was just a particularly vivid dream. I don’t even remember the names of the friends I went with!

One other thing I remember, though, was the name of the cave… Blowing Cave. So, as I was telling my kids about it, I decided to see if I could find anything about it online. And this is where I got to re-experience the cave… it is a real place! Here’s the Google Maps link - be sure to check out the photos there.

Here’s a 20 minute YouTube video from someone who went through it a few years ago:

Some highlights from that video:

  • Around minute 2:00, you can see the really tight space. I honestly didn’t remember it being that tight!
  • Around the 10:00 minute mark, that’s where my memory of wading through the tunnel crouching down matches

Here are some other cool links I found about it. Apparently, the cave has wild stories about it. Per that article, the cave was even closed to the public for a while. Which makes me wonder, were we trespassing when we went there? I honestly have no idea! That’s where I found the earlier YouTube video I linked. The second YouTube video shows the cave entrance… it wasn’t quite as big as I remember, but after all of the tight spaces, it probably felt huge coming back out. Here’s another link about it that I found, too.

Even more surprising, the cave has new owners so you can go experience it yourself! See the Facebook page for Blowing Cave.

The last article I wanted to share about it was about how three university students went missing in the cave. There are multiple news links, but that one has some video, too. I remember talking about going through the cave afterwards and thinking about how bad it would have been had one of us fallen and twisted an ankle or broken a leg or something. While we were in the cave, though, I don’t think I had any of those thoughts - we just kept pushing through.

So, there’s my random Father’s Day story. It’s funny how memory works and how telling a story can trigger more things about it.