Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Better known as spelunking.

Or caving.

Are you trying to figure out how they got 'spelunking' from 'caving'?

Well, let me tell you so you don't have to look it up.

Speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave environment.

Thank-you, internets.

I serve with the 16-18 year old girls in our church. They trust me to teach them lessons each Sunday about values and choices and scripture stuff. You know, super exciting things for that age group. The girls really are amazing and way more mature than I was at that age.

Because of that calling, I was able to go on a Stake activity with the Laurels to the Dynamited Cave and go exploring. Spelunking.

The Dynamited Cave is the most technical cave in the NW. Thousands of years ago, it was a lava tube and it has many levels and vertical drops. It got its name from being dynamited shut for safety reasons, after some local boys got themselves stuck in one of the pits in 1961. In 1972, folks decided to dynamite the gates blocking entrance into the cave. Spelunking for all!

Basically it's a pretty sweet cave to experience. Especially with someone who has experience. Lots of climbing lingo is used like:

balay on
climb on

Simple phrases that really mean a lot while rappelling down 50 ft. or climbing across a pit you can't see the bottom of or climbing up a rock face where one missed step could send you falling to your death.

Trust is something that is learned really quick.

Sounds awesome, huh?  It was.

This was our getting ready area. Making sure everyone had the right equipment and so forth.

Wearing a harness is actually quite comfortable, just a little weird at first. The gal on the left is one of my Laurels. She's pretty much awesome.

That's her dad, our Stake President helping another one of my Laurels. She's an old pro at rock climbing.

He's explaining to us how to properly wear the shoulder harness and carabiner. 

Still trying to get the hang of the harness.

This stuff. This stuff is really good. I need the recipe.

These girls are ready to go!

And so am I....with my leather 'Joy of Gardening' gloves.

Double checking to make sure his laces are tied tight.

And here is the man in charge. He knows this cave like the back of his hand. Seriously one very cool guy.

Listening intently to instructions. 

Dividing up into groups.

Our group of spelunkers.
((plus the two men who arrived before we did to set-up the rappelling sites for quicker exploration. both who had the last name of 'smith'. obviously, very cool people.))

We walked about 50 yards and came to the spot where cave opening is. Can you see it?

It's probably about the size of a stove top.

And this is what it looks like from inside. I brought our old camera that decided to stop working, so I wasn't able to get many pictures. Thanks to the others who had functioning cameras, between the three of them, the trip was documented well.

This was a familiar site....headlamp to the face.

This was the second rappel site known as the Devil's Throat. The tricky part was trying to figure out the sweet spot to allow the rope to glide through without feeling like you were going to die. Basically. You hold the rope with your left hand and use your right hand to move away from your body to rappel down. Good thing to remember is that 'back is brake'.

To save battery life while waiting, we used candles. The cool thing was that the flame didn't move at all. No moving air to make it flicker. 

Getting ready to climb across the Pit of Despair or Doom. Either one, it's not a happy thought. 

Seriously scared out of my mind at this point.

"Rachel, you go first to show the girls how it's done."

"Don't worry. We have you balayed on both sides. You're not going to fall into the pit. You may swing and crash into the rock wall, but you won't fall." 

I'm standing on the shelf ledge, trying to figure out how to get up to the top.

This way didn't work.

This way did.

We're sitting on a shelf. Not a whole lot of room up there to kick back a relax. There's another drop off that you can repel down into. It's a huge cavernous room and the tube or cave, continues on for awhile longer. Because of time, this was as far as we went that day.

Do you remember that ladder? That teeny-tiny one made of chintzy aluminum foil seen in the picture below?
That's what we climbed up to get back out of the cave. The rappelling into the cave is child's play compared to having climb back out the same spots. 

The ladder actually has superman strength and can hold hundreds of pounds. The hardest part was climbing the part of the ladder that was hanging. Comical to watch others attempting it, but when it's your turn...not so funny. You're using every muscle in your body make the climb. Sure, the balay helps, but it's really up to you to do the grunt work.

This is the last climb out of the cave, the first rappelling site. 

Almost out of the cave. This is where the grates were put up to prohibit anyone from entering the cave.
Boom goes the dynamite.   

A close-up of the cave marker on a rock by the entrance. The 50 means something, but I can't remember. It's rare though, I remember that part. Next time I'll take better notes.

After 6 hours of spelunking, we reemerge into the sunlight.

These two ladies were our support group above ground. They had fun trying to scare us on the way out.


Needless to say, it was an awesome experience to be a part of with the girls.


Dallin, Ashley and Claire said...

Rachel, I have a recipe for something that looks very similar to that yummy stuff you are holding. It's called "crunchy munchie" and it's delicious. If you want the recipe, email me! ashleycalaway {@} gmail {dot} com.

The Royals said...

I am the Laurel's advisor, too! That has got to be one of the best activities EVER!!!! I don't think that they would let us do anything that exciting here in Utah. They would probably let the boys do it, though.

Maytribe said...

You are one tough cookie!! Love the pictures.....with my love of heights, don't think I would ever be joining you on a spelunking adventure!

kmay and mike said...

You could NOT of paid me to go down that hole. Good for you! Looks "fun"!