Boned by Norman at YTR
April 4-5, 2003
by Steven Cummings
The annual YTR (Young Timers Reunion) was as good this year as it has been in the past. Three current JMUers represented including Jared, Sharid, and I, along with two alumni, Chris Woodley and Rich, and of course our not-so-young-timer companion Carl. Sharid rode down with Chris (not to be confused with our current treasurer the newly dubbed Chris number 2 who skipped out on the trip) and I went with Jared. Combining the gregariousness of mine and Jared’s personalities made for an uproarious series of interesting and humorous conversations on the two hour trip. When we arrived, we registered at the site and got our raffle tickets. Sharid won a brain, Chris a heart, and Jared courage. Sadly, I didn’t receive anything from the wizard. I was a little down because it was raining, and I had to go set up my tent while the others went in the shelter to examine some stuff. It soon stopped however, so naturally the guys came to see if I needed assistance once it had and when I was almost finished.
We went inside to check out what trips were going on Saturday; Sharid was very excited about this cave called Cass where lots of people die and such but it turned out to be full so we all signed up for Bone-Norman, except for Rich and Carl who did their own thing. We all then made our dinner (if you can call Jared’s single can of kidney and green beans that), ate, and headed over to the campfire. Aside from some really annoying Tech punks with their caving hoes who talked about how they had all gotten naked and made a caving calendar (shudder), the only real person of interest was Mr. Science (yes he voluntarily called himself that). You see, when the sort of people who enjoy caving also enjoy blowing stuff up in fires when drunk. Mr. Science showed us all how to create a fire ball that explodes in a mushroom cloud formation with some very simple ingredients, it was pretty cool. When we got tired of inebriated antics, we decided head for bed so we could be rested for the big trip the next day.
Although it rained again during the night and we had a big windstorm that blew someone else’s tent into the woods, it turned out to be a beautiful day. Sharid was the last to wake up so we did what any good camper does, annoy and pester him until he got his lazy ass up. We then proceeded to eat breakfast and torture Jared with the temptations of the ever delicious donut. Rich, who had given Jared a lecture in veganism the previous night, also ate a donut. Jared called him out on it, and Rich claimed that Jared simply hadn’t gotten past the initial stage of being a vegan where one doesn’t see past all the rules and guidelines of the lifestyle. Jared retorted by calling him a selective-vegan, which by definition is not a vegan at all. Finally, our caving group was gathered and we headed out for a day of adventure.
The cave of Bone-Norman was not far at all from the YTR site. It is called Bone-Norman because originally it was two separate caves, a connection between them was found later. This meant that we could travel one path through the cave, entering one side and coming out another; different from the normal “there and back again” routine. As we later found out, the two parts of the cave could not be more different. Bone, as you have probably guessed, is “bone dry,” and Norman could not be much wetter. We entered the cave on the Bone side through a rock quarry, which was how it had been discovered. The floor had about two inches of very fine dust which we kicked up as we went through, this became a problem later. The formations of the passages varied from tunnels large enough to drive cars through for long distances, to very tight crawl spaces. The two most notable areas of Bone were the Devil’s Pinch, and the long crawl. In the former, one had to squeeze through an eight inch space for about four feet, it was “tight like a tiger” in the words of Mike Myers. One member of our gang couldn’t make it and had to turn back, but all of the JMU crew vanquished the Devil. The long crawl was probably the most grueling part of Bone, with over 100 feet of army crawling since it was too low to be on your knees. The aforementioned dust was a double edged sword here because while it padded the ground so we didn’t get scraped up, the dust was kicked up into the air making it very hard to breathe. This meant that the farther back you were in the line, the worse the dust became. I had a good spot until Sharid, who had a bandana over his mouth to filter out the dust, decided to dodge ahead of me while I waited for someone else and proceeded to kick more dirt in my face. Accident, I think not… After the long crawl, we soon met with an underground stream that marked the beginning of Norman.
Norman was a very exciting cave, with all sorts of things to offer to any intrepid explorers. There were numerous side passages that formed a maze-like area, but as long as you stuck near the river it was easily navigable. Also, their were crags descending and rising many feet from the main path that could be climbed if one so desired, plenty of places to search for those who felt a longing to do so. Furthermore, our group had to brave the torrents of the watercourse many a time, slipping on the muddy banks and falling into the cold pits formed by the rocks. Sometimes we had to crawl on all fours through the water when the ceiling became very shallow. It was all very wonderful in its aesthetic appearance however, which made it all worthwhile. One especially beautiful moment occurred near the end of the trip when we encountered a 20 foot waterfall spewing forth from a hole on the wall, spraying its glory down upon us. Once we passed that splendor, we came to the last climb where we simply had to “head towards the light” to exit the cave. Bruised, beaten, tired, but exhilarated after the five and a half hour expedition, we felt a vast sense of satisfaction in knowing that we had successfully completed Bone-Norman. From there it was back to YTR to pack, then easy cruising back to good old James Madison. Oh, and Sharid killed a bat. Go team.