I recently reported about my son's adventure in a cave in Austin, Texas. His adventure has gleaned more comments on my Facebook page than any of my status updates ever.
I spent some time with Bryce and Reed in Waco this weekend. When I told Bryce about the infamy of the cave opening, he told me a few more disturbing details of the trip.
The steel "trap door" of the cave is kept locked at all times. Nearby the cave entry there is a coded lock box in which the key is kept. Once the trap door has been unlocked, the key is deposited back in the lock box. Down in the cave there is another key. Upon entering the cave, the spelunker is supposed to lock the door from the INSIDE so that no curious or mischievous passersby can slip down into the oblivion of subterranean darkness.
When I heard about the locking of the cave door from the inside, my heart began to race even though my still-living child stood safely before me.
Me: "What if someone lost the key down in the cave?!" [My heart is palpitating now as I share this disturbing information with you.]
Child: "There's this thing that you hang it on, so that wouldn't happen."
Me: "But, it COULD HAPPEN! What if someone absentmindedly slipped it into a pocket and it fell through a hole in the pocket somewhere deep in the cave where only Gollum can find it?!"
Child: "I guess you'd never get out of the cave."
I may need to pop some baby aspirin and Pepto Bismol tablets in my mouth before continuing.
Most of the time Bryce was on his hands and knees in the cave except for a few places that he wriggled through like a snake on his belly. Once such wriggle was through a sort of tube-like tunnel that had to be entered hands-above-head-sans-backpack-and-helmet (ie, no headlamp. ie, total and complete darkness). This little tube was called the Birth Canal. Bryce's professor pulled him out when he was close enough to reach her hands that were awaiting his "birth."
The group gathered in a cave "room" that "you could almost stand up in" for lunch. "What did you pack for lunch, Bryce?" "Some Poptarts and water." Again, my heart pounded with thoughts of my child starving to death in a cave while a certain misplaced key was being searched for in blinding darkness. "You didn't take emergency food and water?!" Wasn't that on the spelunking pretest?!
3. What does a spelunker take down into a cave to assure survival?
A. 10 military MREs and 10 gallons of water
B. a change of clothing
C. some Poptarts and water
Apparently, my child missed #3 on the pretest. Hopefully, he received a bit of extra credit for not perishing in the cave.
At the end of the trek, the professor paired the students up and sent them in timed intervals to find their way back to the opening of the cave. [Oh, LORD! I think that this is the BIG ONE! You're a-comin' to take me home right now!]
"It was kinda funny because me and my partner (again with the grammar) wandered into this room where several other people ended up. The professor had to actually go find a couple of people."
I must end here. My blood pressure is so high I can hear my heart beating in my temples. Alas, the child is alive. Like I said in the "Don't Ask. Don't Tell." post, sometimes it's best not to know things until they have already been survived.
If you are into vicarious-fear-of-being-trapped-in-the-bowels-of-the-earth, read these descriptions of caves in the Austin area. Bryce's Whirlpool Cave experience is rated "Beginner." I have now added "depths" to my list of phobias alongside "heights."
Bryce sent me this picture after his mountain biking class last week:
Thanks for sharing, Bryce. I just hope that you survive your classes this semester so that you can graduate in May.