Eva continues her cave narrative:
Day two consisted of walking all the way through Hangover Cave. While we were only covering 4.5 kilometers we took countless detours to explore the rock formations that took thousands of years to form. One of the strangest things we found were cave pearls. These baseball-sized, perfectly spherical stones take even longer to form than stalagmites. In addition, everything glittered as our lights illuminated the caverns. The stalagmites reminded me of Christmas trees. At lunch, we came to a massive chamber with a pit in the middle of it and a series of slightly rounded shelves that nobody would identify as climbable until Captain motioned us upwards. We first bounded and then climbed ever higher. After hundreds of feet, we could, at last, touch the ceiling. We aimed our lights to where we had started, but the lights could not reach that far. We could only see the darkness below us.
The depths of Hangover Cave reminded me of a new kind of darkness, humid and heavy, unreachable by any photon of natural light. We eventually managed to return to the floor of the cave. Brian and Max considered descending further into the aforementioned pit, but they ultimately decided it would be too difficult. Captain watched the discussion and declared that he could pull anyone out of the pit with a single arm if they tried to climb the pit and failed. Several students asked Bacchus if they could try descending, but Bacchus replied with a monosyllabic “no”. I asked Captain if he could do it. “Easy,” he replied before taking all of 30 seconds to get to the bottom and back to the top while at one point doing the splits to maintain contact with two holds six feet apart. He would later learn that Captain had scaled every possible wall in the cave, including being the only known person to climb down a few giant holes.
When we finished exploring the cave, we saw daylight for the first time since we had left camp some five hours earlier. We proceeded to climb sharp rock formations to get to the entrance of Pygmy Cave, whose name did not match the gaping pit that appeared to lead directly to hell. I was a tad apprehensive about rappelling down the slick, mud covered ledges. Things didn’t get much better as I walked along narrow ledges only to have to rappel again, this time down a sheer rock face. At first, I struggled, unable to fully trust that our guide would keep me from falling. Eventually, I was forced to put my full trust in the system, knowing that if anything failed I would not be able to walk out. Once I did that, the rappel was easy, and we were able to continue deeper into the cave.
We finally rounded a bend and saw what must be one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. The exit of the cave was massive, dwarfing our tiny tents. Meanwhile, the most verdant green imaginable seemed to cascade over the hill, filling the cave with life. The effect was amplified by the raindrops that covered the leaves reflecting the precious rays of sun further into the cave. I could not have dreamed of a more beautiful campsite.
It’s not too late to make a gift that will enhance the experience for all Explorations Academy students.