How did you get started caving?

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How did you get started caving?

Postby CaverScott » Oct 11, 2016 12:24 pm

So how did you get started in caving?

I saw an announcement in the University of Florida's student newspaper (no internet back then folks) about a monthly meeting of the Florida Speleological Society. My first thought, after looking up Speleological, was "we have caves in Florida??"
They rented you a helmet and light for $.50 (you provided your own batteries.) Best decision I made while at Gainesville. :cavingrocks: :cave softly: :bananabat:

http://www.ocala.com/news/20110226/flor ... verns-site

So how about you, trusty reader? C'mon now, if you read the thread, post a response!
Last edited by CaverScott on Oct 18, 2016 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby Grandpa Caver » Oct 11, 2016 1:06 pm

Three good friends of mine were geology students at a local university and had attended a field trip to a cave. The next Saturday found the four of us borrowing hats and carbide lamps from the school and off on our adventure. Soon after this I discovered Richard Powels "Caves of Indiana" and Doug Loves "Guide to Garrison Chapel Valley". The world of caves was open to us and greatly expanded when we were introduced Richard Blenz. With Richard as a mentor our endeavors were off to an excellent start. This all came about in the span of just a few weeks in 1977.
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby spider » Oct 11, 2016 7:00 pm

Ed Loud and another chemistry lab assistant (whose name I can't recall right now) took me to a cave in Virginia. I was hooked. Found the DC Grotto and went with them on some caving trips before I was old enough to get a license and go myself.
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby Chads93GT » Oct 11, 2016 9:50 pm

I bought a house in the cave capitol of Missouri and I moved there from Kansas, unknowingly........
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby CaverScott » Oct 13, 2016 6:53 am

Chads93GT wrote:I bought a house in the cave capitol of Missouri and I moved there from Kansas, unknowingly........


That explains your availability; however, what triggered your desire to "explore the darkness that beckons?" :yikes: :grin:
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby CaverScott » Oct 13, 2016 6:55 am

Grandpa Caver wrote:Three good friends of mine were geology students at a local university and had attended a field trip to a cave. The next Saturday found the four of us borrowing hats and carbide lamps from the school and off on our adventure. Soon after this I discovered Richard Powels "Caves of Indiana" and Doug Loves "Guide to Garrison Chapel Valley". The world of caves was open to us and greatly expanded when we were introduced Richard Blenz. With Richard as a mentor our endeavors were off to an excellent start. This all came about in the span of just a few weeks in 1977.


Nice. You got underground about one year before me! :cave softly:
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby ohiocaver » Oct 13, 2016 10:12 am

It was a sleety, soggy, finger-cramping day in Pennsylvania and a planned session of rock climbing wasn't looking too good. One of the guys said, "Let's go caving instead" and the other two of us said, "Huh? What's that?" He was a member of the Nittany Grotto and knew several local caves. Turns out that cavers had a real need for rock climbers who were willing to go underground and up slimy rock. Later, folks like Jay Reich, Bernie Smeltzer, Dale Ibberson, Ellen Snyder, Jim Goldsmith, the Garlands and others in the York Grotto made me feel welcome (without mentioning how relieved they were that I'd push the high leads and they didn't have to!). For years, I was primarily a rock jock but rainy days or cold winter nights found us underground. Now, my time has flip-flopped. :cavingrocks:
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby Marlatt » Oct 13, 2016 3:37 pm

I think I had caving in my blood almost from birth. My father, while assuredly not a caver, was an avid outdoorsman and adventurer, and I can remember him taking me as a toddler to what were probably just talus shelters but which seemed to be fantastic caverns. He also took us to a number of commercial caves - I remember being maybe 9 or 10 years old and looking at awe at the rope ladder dropping down a pit in the Carlsbad Big Room; I was simultaneously terrified and irresistibly drawn. Another funny memory - I must have been about 2nd or 3rd grade, and we had the word "spelunker" on a spelling list (I know, I know). I recall thinking, "I'm going to do that someday!" But caves are small and scarce in northern Colorado, and I drifted instead into rock climbing.

Until a fateful family trip to Seattle in 1975. We stopped at the flagship REI store, and were given some small sum to buy something. I stumbled upon Halliday's American Caves and Caving, and in basically never looked back. Joined the NSS a couple years later, but was too intimidated to look up the Colorado Grotto (figuring that those 'real cavers' wouldn't have the time for the likes of me!). Drove myself back to Kentucky for the 1981 International Congress, and ran into some CG cavers, and joined the grotto upon getting back home.

And now, 40+ years later, from carbide to LEDs, cotton to PVC, Goldline to PMI, the lure of the cave is still strong. God willing, I'll still be strong enough to answer for another decade or two!\

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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby CaverScott » Oct 14, 2016 7:10 am

Great stories! Keep 'em coming! :cavechat:
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby graveleye » Oct 14, 2016 10:03 am

I believe I've shared my testimony a few times, but why not once again...

I was crawling around in the storm drains under interstate 85 in Atlanta from the time I was about 11 years old. I had been in a few commercial caves.
There was this one time that we had done the tour at Florida Caverns and were walking the rim trail around the park, when two boys and their dad emerged from a hole in the ground... one of the many other caves. My dad was instantly NO before I even asked. He had been in the caves around south Georgia and wanted nothing to do with it, but I was hooked before I could even do it. I had a tattered copy of a National Geographic from the 60s that had a great article on caves and caving in it that kept me going.
At 15 my school science club went to "Cartersville Cave" aka Kingston Saltpeter, before it was locked up and had a great time.

Went into Waterfall cave and others in S Georgia too, but only with flashlights.

A co-worker of mine started caving when I was in my 20s. I was insanely interested. But he told me that I wouldn't fit in for some reason - something that I have resented for a long time. I believed him for 20 years until I said screw it and went to a grotto meeting where we were warmly received and turned out I did fit in after all. I was in my 40s by then. Now most of my only friends are cavers, and I am too. My family! I wasted the best caving years of my life believing that I would never fit in to the community. That is why I make it such a point to be kind and mentoring to the seekers who are interested in caving. I don't want them to feel like I did for so long, and waste valuable years like I did.
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby Bumbalawski » Oct 16, 2016 10:32 am

I started caving with the Boy Scouts at age 14. It was Troop 16 in Cumberland Maryland at the Johnson Heights School. We were just "sport cavers" going to existing caves. In the late 70's, we began to look for new caves. I took a long hiatus from caving since I moved to Illinois for 20 years. But I still continued to look for new caves when I come back home on vacations. In 2002, we returned back to Beans Cove when I retired. I started to follow up on leads that I had collected over the prior 20 years. Some of us old timers got together went exploring. We began to start finding new and better caves. But we got divided up since life sent us in different directions. In 2010, I met Ryan Boyce, a young and enthusiastic new caver. From there, the group grew. Since then, the new discoveries have put Maryland on the caving map. And now, I am helping with the restart of the Western Maryland Grotto. I rarely go underground these days due to surgeries that have limited my flexibility, but I still look for new caves and record the finds. That is my story, start to finish and I am now 63 years old (and feel like it also).

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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby NZcaver » Oct 18, 2016 6:29 am

Like Graveleye, I may have mentioned this once or twice before here on the forum - but since you asked...

My interest in the subterranean began about 30 years ago, as a teenager. I grew up in New Zealand. Backpacking trips with friends led to exploring old gold mines, which then led me to seek out established caving organizations to learn vertical techniques. My first real caving experience with the club was actually a vertical trip, and I was hooked!

I did a moderate amount of caving in NZ over the course of about a decade, then stepped it up after moving to the US and getting involved with more recreational and project caving around the US. I got more interested in gear-and-gadgets, vertical devices, rescue, photography, survey, lighting, and cave communications. In the last few years I've become a little geographically divorced from active caving, but I try to do a little each year when I can. And I still check in on the forum from time to time.
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby CKahl » Oct 18, 2016 1:29 pm

I'm a pseudo second generation caver. My father went to college in the Chattanooga area where he and some friends started exploring the caves around the area. They really found interest in the Cloudland canyon caves (Case and Sitton's) and spent many months trying to make a connection between the two. When I came along he used to take me to the commercial caves around Chattanooga when I was young and promised to take me to Sitton's once I was older. When I was about 15, we trekked to Sitton's and only made it to the second room before it was just too flooded to continue. We ran into another group while we were there and the had us tag along with them to Pettijohn's. From there we found out about Fox mountain and then tumbling rock and the rest of the Scottsboro area. The rest is history from there.
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby CaverScott » Oct 18, 2016 2:25 pm

Even more great stories! Keep 'em coming! :cavechat:
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Re: How did you get started caving?

Postby bennettbike » Oct 28, 2016 1:22 pm

cool stories.

I was working at a Publix and this kid comes into the deli and says he is going caving, i said waaa? he said his friend dropped a dslr in fantastic pit and they wanted to go find the sd card. he told me to look up the dogwood city grotto.

i didnt go to a grotto meeting but like many internet searchers i found my way to pettijohns and my wife and i went like 15 minutes deep and got scared we would run out of light. we went back often and pushed a little further each time.

then an old friend found my photos or i found his on Facebook, he went there also...

so we found fantastic pit next and dropped it... rest is history, i went on 1 grotto trip and it was fun too.

became a gss member, etc... i try and not tell the wrong people also.
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