When Kevin and I were at school in Auburn, we had two awesome friends, Melanie and Walker. In fact, Melanie plays a big role in how Kevin and I got together. She’d drag me to Auburn baseball games (in which I had no interest in anything other than the hot dogs) and somehow we’d always end up sitting right next to Kevin. And he still ended up asking me out, even though I spent the majority of those games stuffing my face with hot dogs. True love, folks. (And what is it with baseball hot dogs?? They are always the best!)
Anyway, when we first got married, Melanie and Walker would often come visit us at our new home in north Alabama. Walker is a huge caving expert (don’t call it spelunking! Walker says that’s for amateurs. ;)) and would always take us on some fun new underground adventure. Evidently our area is a hot bed for underground caverns. There were tons to explore and we never went to the same one twice. But after a few years life got busy and our caving trips got put on the back burner — for the next six years.
But a few days ago when Melanie called out of the blue and said, “Hey! Wanna go caving??” my answer was immediately, “Yes!” We went on a week day, so Kevin had to work, but I took my outdoorsy friend Kim who always goes kayaking with me. I knew this would be right up her alley. She was also Miley and Howie’s trainer when they were in puppy school, so she’s the reason why they always sit still and look at the camera when I take their pictures, lol! ;)
That’s me, in the nearly eye-burning tie-dyed tshirt, in case you couldn’t tell. Just like an only child to always need to be the center of attention. Kim in purple, and Melanie in white.
Walker made sure we were equipped with everything we’d need for a short, relatively easy caving expedition: long pants and long sleeves that WILL get ruined, shoes with tread, gloves, knee pads, helmets with lights, water, and snacks. Oh and PLENTY OF EXTRA BATTERIES. It’s dark in there, ya’ll.
We dressed warmly, (I’m actually wearing a pair of leggings under these khakis) because while it was in the middle of summer and quite steamy outside, cave temperatures remain stable and cool no matter what time of year it is. Limrock Blowing Cave is also a “water cave” meaning there was a good chance we’d be wading through water at several points during the cave. All the more exciting! :)
(Note the nearly dry river behind me. More on that in a minute.)
Here’s the cave opening where we climbed in. We followed the path of the river that flows throughout the cave. After heavy rains the cave is completely filled with water from floor to ceiling and rushes out the opening into the riverbed behind us.
Let me just start off by saying, caving in your early twenties is a lot different than caving in your early thirties.
There was lots of crawling.
The cave got very shallow in some places.
But would open back up for long stretches — to heights of 70 feet or more — and into magnificent waterfalls.
There were parts that were steep.
And parts that were rocky.
We did lots of climbing! :)
And lots of very carefully looking where we were stepping.
Did I mention it’s dark in here?? :)
There were more times than I can count that I was very thankful for my helmet. :)
We met this cute little cave salamander on the way.
Loved this waterfall! Such a neat experience exploring this whole new world with rivers, streams, waterfalls, rocks, and even it’s own wildlife totally hidden, totally unsuspecting, right underneath our feet.
It was dark when we made it out of the cave, and we didn’t even realize we were out until we were several steps into the woods. Definitely a surreal feeling.
Oh. And can I also say? Caving’s a lot different after you’ve seen The Descent.
Omg. I would have had a serious anxiety attack even going 10 feet inside, not to mention crawling and squeezing through narrow passages. AAHH! You are brave, woman!
I am impressed! This looks more like an exercise in torture to me!! I think there would have been some tears shed on my part lol
WOW Amanda, WOW! Everyone is saying you are brave! I agree 100%. Your pictures are so awesome. Wish I could experience things like this, just can’t with me being so claustrophobic. I would have had a panic attack before even entering. Big kudos to you. Thanks for sharing your beautiful experience.
Looks like a lot of fun!
I get claustrophobic just looking at those pictures!
That looks like so much fun! It’s really amazing just how much of the earth we have not even seen. BTW, you are ROCKING that tie-dye shirt! I love it!
Beautiful pictures Amanda and looks like an awesome adventure!
Fun to see, glad you had a great adventure, with pros! So how did you (?) take such great pics inside the dark cave? Spotlight & flash? We did some spur of the moment caving, amateur style, in OR while on a road trip (thus not prepared). It was super dark, of course, the flashlights supplied at the park were very dim and I was trying not to freak out the whole time! No I didn’t need to see a movie to scare me. :) Since the flashlights were lousy, and not being prepared, all I had was the on camera flash; not enough to focus & take pics of people but some cool shots of the cave walls.
Holy cow, you are braver than me!! Caves are where bats live…which means that I stay far, far away…
I concur with the crowd – felt very nervous just LOOKING at the photos. What a brave girl you are. Thank you, yet again, for letting us live vicariously through you!
That was amazing, Amanda. Glad to enjoy it via your bravery. Thanks for sharing this great nature adventure with us today.
Looks like you had a great time. Cool Adventure.
That made me weak in the knees, especially when the “standing room” you had became so narrow. I enjoyed the adventure via your post, but no way in this lifetime could I do that.
I don’t EVER want to go exploring caves after watching The Descent! That movie scared the CRAP out of me!! Your pictures and mentioning your friend that goes kayaking immediately put that movie on my radar. I’m glad you have had some wonderful cave exploring experiences after watching that movie.
Awesome adventure! Very brave of you –
Yeah…I saw The Descent…NOPE! I had NO desire to set foot in a cave before and especially not after seeing that movie!
I appreciate the pictures though! Even though I could feel my claustrophobia sinking in just looking at them. That little lizard is adorable ;)
oh my gosh, so the whole time I’m reading this post and looking at the photos I’m thinking about The Descent and panicking juts a little bit haha and then I get to the end and see your reference haha. After seeing that movie I’ll never be able to go in a cave. Ever.
No thank you ma’am!… I have always wanted to go in DeSoto Caverns (gotta have lots of height) but tight places are not for me (so claustrophobic). Loved the pictures though…and yes I saw The Descent — HECK NAW!!!!!!!
I must say that I’m alittle disappointed that you didn’t have a picnic spread featuring Spelunking Wraps and Sparkling Cave Water Spritzers!!!(heehee)
I’ll bet you slept well that night! Haven’t been caving since I was a teen and it was tiring then. ;)
Ok, you are totally brave! I don’t think I would ever go into caves…spooky!
Wow! – that crawling between two giant boulders inside a cavern gets a ‘Heck no!’ :), that made my stomach do flip-flops – you go girl!
Stephanie @ grinninglikeanidiot.com
The Descent scared the crap out of me.
This looks so interesting though, definitely putting it on the list!
Beautiful and amazing sites. So glad you photographed it for me because there’s no chance ever that I will do that willingly! Afraid even BEFORE I saw The Descent – Terrified AFTER!
Sounds a little scary especially those tight spots!
I love caving, so unfair that you have such a source, both of caves and experienced friends!
And oh yes, oh YES to the descent! I live sort-of near Natural Bridge Caverns, and enjoy their adventure tour, but… to get in, you’re lowered through a fairly tight hole, and I have to close my eyes less I start imagining something coming out of one of the openings in the walls of the chute. Too close for comfort in there.
You know, it looks fun but definitely not for me! I think you are all very brave. By the way, I ordered the navy blue mustache scarf after seeing your colored one. Love it!