North AL Caver

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North AL Caver

Postby Rebecca » Aug 14, 2013 9:26 pm

Hi all!
I hail from the not-exactly-boondocks of north-central Alabama, born and raised near the Rocket City. I got started caving at about 11 or 12; went with by dad and sister to a NSS-Huntsville meeting and then joined a trip to Limrock cave. I was definately the youngest on the trip (and also the smallest) and the only thing I really remember (besides riding out on my dad's back because the water was really deep and I'm not a strong swimmer) was that I fell in love with caves. I didn't cave again until a year-ish ago when some friends who live in certifiable boondocks found some caves near their house. We've made two trips down there and both have gotten me re-loving caving all over again. Maybe, the third time will be the charm and we'll start caving semi-regularly after the latest trip (read: every school break since most of the crew are full-time college students).
I would guess my good caving story is from the latest trip. Now, just to give you an idea of the situation, we had about a dozen people: 1 dad, 5 young-twenties, and the rest teenagers. Leaving the dad out, the average age was around 18. We were also evenly split gender-wise. This was my first trip where I was not the least experienced caver (8 first-timers), the youngest, the shortest, or the person unfamiliar with the cave. Oh, I forgot that taking out our fearless 6'6" leader, the average height was about 5'6" and there was only one person pushing 6 feet. And to top it off, there was probably a total of 50 pounds in weight between the lightest person and the heaviest person (again, discounting Fearless Leader). All but the dad and one other person were either 1) homeschoolers or 2) graduated homeschoolers. And half of the graduated homeschoolers were engineers...
Okay. The story. We were climbing back to a rock formation. The very end of said climb, there is a mud slide. I ended up at the back of the pack and so approached said mudslide after 10 or so people had slid down it on the seat of their pants. It was completely slick and the semi-footholds had been obliterated. A guy in front of me grabbed my foot ("I'm the control. You're the slide.")
Then came getting back up.
So: Fearless Leader spider-mans his way up the corner across from the mudslide and then half-reaches, half-dives across to position himself at the top of the mudslide. One of the taller guys (with help from Fearless Leader and the guy who was almost 6') does essentially the same thing, and stations himself further down the passage from Fearless Leader. They wedge themselves in and cross ankles so the other guy is holding Fearless Leader in. Guy who is almost 6' and his 5'6" sister position themselves at the bottom of the mudslide. We start with one of the smallest people.
The process goes something like this (I was the third up and am using my example): Girl assisting crouches down and gives a (left) foothold. Caver puts foot in foothold. Caver puts right hand in guy assisting's left. Right foot on floor. Girl assisting shoves up, giving caver a left knee (still supported) in mudslide. Guy takes right foot and lifts, allowing caver to straighten right leg and lock left knee in. Then caver pushes off left knee to straighten (with right hand still on the guy) and pulls up right knee while grabbing the hand of Fearless Leader at the top with left hand. Guy at bottom shoves right knee up until caver's boot is level with guy's helmet. (at this point the left-foothold is somewhat supported) Caver swings right hand up and catches hand of the other guy at the top of the mudslide. At this point all sense of engineering leaves, both people at the bottom shove feet, both people at the top pull arms, and the caver in between pulls knees up and in about 2.5 very tense seconds caver is all but on top of Fearless Leader (at which point the 3-second rule takes effect: any position is appropriate for 3 seconds).
There are few things that build (physical) trust like caving! :woohoo:

There were lots of quotes from that trip;D
Person 1: Can you knock it off with the Pixar quotes?
Person # 1s little brother: Why do I feel so...melancholy? (quote from Megamind. Dreamworks, not Pixar)
Person #1: That's NOT WHAT I MEANT!
One of the best was probably as we were emerging (after 6 hours underground). I was with two other people at the front of the pack. We rounded the last turn and *bam* you can see the exit.
(teenaged) Guy in front of pack with me: I see the light!
(teenaged) Guy behind us (in falsetto): At last I see the light! (Yes, SINGING the song from Tangled) :laughing:

No times quite like those spent in a cave!

Addendum: I also love blackouts. A blackout in a cave is one of those experiences that defies description. It's so...powerful.
Blackout can also lead to interesting conversations...
Girl: Friendship is such a gift (note: this wasn't really off-subject). It's not just any random person who will stand with you during crazy stuff in your life...or hold your hand in a cave...
Girl's little, er, younger, brother: ("ohmygoodness-did-any-little-kids-just-hear-that" gasp) Hand check! (turns his light on, pointing at her) Who's holding her hand?
(answer: a girl)
Rebecca
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Re: North AL Caver

Postby Caving Guru » Apr 28, 2014 5:46 am

Nice story. I read the whole thing. I am surprised nobody else has so far commented on your post.
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Re: North AL Caver

Postby trogman » Apr 28, 2014 10:29 am

Greg Jones wrote:Nice story. I read the whole thing. I am surprised nobody else has so far commented on your post.


For some reason, I just saw this post today for the first time, even though I check CaveChat regularly.

Interesting trip report- thanks for sharing. Sounds like you hang out with a lot of homeschoolers. Were you homeschooled as well? My wife and I homeschooled all 3 of our children, and whenever we took them caving, we always counted it as a "science field trip." They did learn a lot from those field trips, but unfortunately none of them got bitten by the caving bug.

Trogman :helmet:
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Re: North AL Caver

Postby Caving Guru » Apr 28, 2014 12:21 pm

trogman wrote:
Greg Jones wrote:Nice story. I read the whole thing. I am surprised nobody else has so far commented on your post.


For some reason, I just saw this post today for the first time, even though I check CaveChat regularly.

Interesting trip report- thanks for sharing. Sounds like you hang out with a lot of homeschoolers. Were you homeschooled as well? My wife and I homeschooled all 3 of our children, and whenever we took them caving, we always counted it as a "science field trip." They did learn a lot from those field trips, but unfortunately none of them got bitten by the caving bug.

Trogman :helmet:


I check Cave Chat daily also Trogman. I was going back through the Caver Introduction Section and reading all of the ones that were marked as unread and I came across this one with no responses.
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