What is Caving all about

What's caving all about?

(from the Nittany Grotto newsletter)

All of us are looking for certain things in life. Sometimes we don't even realize what some of these things are. Next time you go into a cave, ask yourself what you are looking for; what do you want out of the cave? I think I have the answer: you are looking for adventure -- and you find it. Oh sure, you go in to take pictures, or play in the mud, or what have you. But you can play in a mud puddle and there are a lot of pictures to be taken on top of the ground. These are secondary reasons. Primarily, you go for adventure. Don't tell me it isn't adventure to crawl through [Castle Rock or Haine's] or immerse yourself in some underground stream that has a temperature of around 45 degrees, because if it isn't adventure, then somebody's off their rocker.

Many people are asked how they got interested in spelunking in the first place. The most common answer is that someone took them in a cave, and they got "bitten by the bug." I don't go along with this theory; I think they were bitten by "the bug" long before they ever got near a cave -- the adventure bug. ... I see nothing wrong with looking for adventure; I think almost every young person looks for it in some form or another. Older people who are adventurous are not so common, but they are by no means unusual. Some of us tire of ordinary adventure very quickly -- what was adventure becomes a mere novelty, something to be done on occasion and forgotten. Lacking adequate adventure on the surface, we go underground. Here, truly, is adventure that is far from ordinary, and will never be forgotten; for no matter how often we travel to these underground fantasies, they are always different. Even when one returns to the same cave time after time, it is somehow different.

A toast, then, to adventure -- better than that, a toast to Underground Adventure -- may we learn to appreciate it a long as we live.

(Adapted from "So you want to be a spelunker")

Caving does not involve walking along well lit cement paths with guard rails. You need to carry sufficient light and may have to crawl on your belly like a reptile through mud. There may also be climbs, walkways slippery with mud, and underground streams to wade through. Caving is not always comfortable. I have never been on a trip where anyone has gotten worse than a few bruises, but I do not want people to think that caving is free from hazards. On the other hand, caving does have its points. The mud is fun to play in and there is a certain thrill to knowing that you are traveling through the "solid" earth. Ghost stories take on a new dimension underground with the lights off.