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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Black Water Rafting


We've all heard of and may have even done "white water rafting" before. The "white water" comes from the bubbling water in a river. What great fun flying down a river in a raft, paddling like crazy! "Black water rafting" is nothing like this. Rather than being in a raft, each person had his own personal tube. The water is black because one is floating down a river, deep in a cave.
Our friends, Tom & Cheryl, were visiting from MI so we decided to give this a go. We put on the clammy, smelly wet suits and helmets and tramped off into the woods following our guide to a hole in the ground. We crawled into the cave, walked a bit then came to a 3' drop off with the river below. The only lights were the ones on our helmets. We put the tube on our butts, turned around and jumped (butt first) into the river.
I have been on many cave tours. Lighted paths guide the way through a much traveled cave. The guide points out the many geological features such as stalagmites, stalactites, and cave coral. They are beautiful treasures hidden deep within. The lights may be turned out for a few moments so the group can experience the darkness, but you know 20 other people are right there - you are not alone. In a cave I am aware of the cool, damp air. I can smell that I am deep under the surface of the earth. It is quiet except for the sound of water dripping and echoing in the cave.
This experience was radically different. The first sensation was one of complete and utter darkness. For me it was a time to mentally focus on the fact that there was a way out. This wasn't about seeing all the cool formations, it was about the gripping reality of leaving the lighted world and spending some time in darkness. The other sensation was a feeling of being one with the cave. I was not merely observing this cave in my neat, tidy clothes. I was stumbling over rocks, feeling the wall to guide me, wadding through the river, jumping in and then paddling my tube down the river. Every fiber of my being could feel the cold of the water and the solitude of the cave. I relied on my headlamp and hearing a voice, feeling a touch to remind me that I was not alone.
When I was able to relax a bit I looked up and was in awe of the host of glow worms speckling the ceiling. I was a bit relieved when we came to a mossy hole and climbed out of the cave. I'm not really feeling any need to go back. I'm happy with my comfortable world!

No Worries - Kris

1 comment:

  1. You are so brave! I felt claustrophobic just reading your account!

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