The Fall of Doom!
Sept. 29, 2001
by Jared Bowie
It was a typical caving day for me, waking up early, carrying my trash bag with me through campus and getting all the looks that certainly raise my self-esteem a couple points. I walked around to the back of Buruss at about 10 of 12:00 and no one was there. So I took a seat in front of my favorite dumpster, and waited a bit. Eventually the crew started showing up and everyone did the normal introductions. We were supposed to have 9, but only had 6 Me, Frank, Spencer, Craig, Chris, and Angela. So that was it, the 6 of us split up into the 2 cars and took off for Breathing Cave. We took a quick stop at a gas station and then headed to WalMart, where some food and batteries were bought.
Finally after a good hour our journey started. It was a 1 and ½ hour trip to the middle of nowhere. But at least we were there right? Nope it was a 45-minute hike to our hole in the ground. The hike wouldn’t have been so bad, if I actually was used to exercise, so I made a little comment that I’d be sore tomorrow, boy was I on target.
We eventually reached our destination, hung out for a bit and then went in. Breathing Cave has 2 sections, the historical section and the, well I guess I’ll call it the hardcore section, because after a quick walk, we were doing military style crawling to get through a little tunnel that we just barely fit in. We did some walking had a quick lights out and moved on. We saw many of the fine things caves have to offer bats, formations, cave pearls, rocks being slowly worn away by the drips from above and most notably a cool wavy rock cut up by the water. Eventually we got to a kind of tough part, where you could either go up or go down, I wasn’t quite sure which way I wanted to go until I heard the sound of Frank falling into the water below and I knew it was up for me. Going up was little hard though and tight, everything kept getting stuck and to get down I had to take off a shoe and my helmet.
We moved on though and after some more cool formations, we came to the most challenging part of the trip. There was about a 20 ft cliff, with no easy way up. There was a rope hanging from about 10 ft up. There were 2 possible ways to go either chimney your way up the other side or use the rope. Craig, and Frank chimeyed their way up the hard part and Chris and Spencer used the rope and my shoulder to get up the easier part. Then I went to go up. I got a little past the rope and looked around for something to grab onto and there was absolutely nothing, I didn’t know exactly how it happened, but a little while after saying “shit” I fell a good 10 ft backwards. Luckily there were some nice rocks below to soften my landing. I got up with a cut in my leg and bruises everywhere, but worst of all, scared as hell. Everyone made sure I was ok, and asked if I wanted to move on, of course I said yes, because there is nothing like caving when you are shaking with fear. So with Chris’s help I climbed up right where I fell. But right after that I had to crawl on my belly on a slanted rock looking over right where I fell down and this time higher. The closer I would get to the wall the more slanted the rock would get, so I had to stay relatively close to the edge, which right after that big fall was not good. I did eventually make it past this obstacle. We went a little further in the cave, found some dead ends and decided it was best just to go back the way we came, instead of keeping looking for the other way out. Well that meant going right back down from where I fell. Everyone went and I crawled over that slanted rock and got down to the rope. After much hesitation I eventually got down. We got out of the rest of the cave without event and started our hike back. On the hike back Angela kept pulling back branches and letting them go, in an attempt to make me “a giant ball of blood”, but luckily I made it back to the car alive.
We began our ride back, and stopped at an old country store. In there we met a country folk guy who talked like Boomhower from King of the Hill, he told us we would never get him into one of those caves, and boy was he right. After that we all drove home.