A World of Darkness Awaits

Imagine a world of darkness surrounded by rock and mud where exotic formations, streams and waterfalls, tight crawl-ways, deep canyons and pits, and huge rooms with large blocks of breakdown, crickets, bats, and rats await you. That’s what I experienced while caving in New Brunswick, Canada. I was taken into a world much different form that above ground.

We entered the underdeveloped and “wild” gypsum cave system in Hillsborough, White Cave, by a large sinkhole downstream from the upper sinkhole. The stream that covered the entrance floor guaranteed that I was wet and cold immediately, but the coldness quickly fled because of the warm, cave air.

It was a 105 meter crawl through tight squeezes, wiggling down tunnels on my belly and my backside to reach the passage end in the South Cave, also known as the Bat Cave.

The pitch darkness was what made caving so different from my other adventure sport experiences. All of the challenges of movement in a confined space were increased because I had nothing more than a headlamp or flashlight for light.

Once we reached the Bat Cave, my friend and caving leader, Shawn, suggested we turn off our headlamps to truly experience the darkness that filled the air. Pitch black was a term with which I thought I was familiar, but I was mistaken. When our lamps went out, a fear of the unknown surrounded me. I placed my hand directly in front of my face until it touched my nose yet I still saw nothing. I wondered if blind people ever felt the same paralyzing fear of their surrounding or were the use to not knowing what was around them? Are their other senses heightened by the absence of sight? I took a deep breath and tried to focus on the noises and smells of the cave.

After a long hesitation, we decided to crawl out of the south cave without the use of our lamps. My fingers and hands slowly guided me along the floor of the cave as I listened to Shawn’s voice explain the curves and turns the lay ahead.

Although I wasn’t jumping out of a plane or rafting class V rapids, caving was an adventure worth experiencing. I was exposed to a world seldom seen and I witnessed the immense beauty and mystery of the underground.

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40 thoughts on “A World of Darkness Awaits

  1. Turning out the lights – that is a trip! I’ve had guides do that in large, open caves and it does bring the heart rate up, I can only imagine what it was like for you on this trip. Kudos, that’s a daring feat.

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  2. It was a unique experience that I was hesitant to try, but I did enjoy it and feel accomplished when I “saw the light”.

    Thanks for reading and for commenting; it’s appreciated.

    Lesley

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    • Are you referring to Sanctum? I completed this caving journey before watching that movie. If I had of seen it before hand, I may not have gone deep into the cave.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Lesley

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      • Don’t put cave diving on your bucket list. Caving is awesome. I’ve heard diving can be awesome. But caving with a time limit? That sounds somewhere south of brilliant to me.

        If you ever get the urge to go caving again, plan to check one of our awesome caves in the TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia) area. There are some breathtaking caves around here to complement our awesome mountain biking.

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    • Thanks! Although the complete darkness made me nervous at times, i did enjoy the adventure. Have you ever gone caving before?

      Thanks for taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

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  3. Lesley – Wonderful images and great adventure. It has been many years since I’ve been in a cave – will have to check some out soon. Thanks for the inspiration and adventure.
    Best Regards
    Jim Brickett

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  4. You know, there is a time when I may have enjoyed doing this but I think it has passed. Some of those “squeezes” look a little intense. Now I want to check out the movies you mentioned above (to re-assure myself that caving is not in my future). ~~Bliss

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    • Well, being 17 weeks pregnant and not even fitting into my own clothes, I don’t really have a desire to go caving now either – lol. I did enjoy the journey though and I’d like to try it again in the distant future.

      Sanctum is a good movie, but enough to scare anyone out of caving or underwater cave diving.

      Thanks for reading and commenting; it’s appreciated.

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  5. Lesley,
    When you make it to New Zealand one of the things you need to do is Black Water Rafting. I did it at Ruakuri Cave with the Black-Water Rafting Company. It combines many of the things you love doing. First you abseil down a spider hole about 100′, then you zip line (in the dark) to a ledge in the cave where you pick up an intertube. Then you jump off the ledge with the tube under your butt into the river about 15′ below. When I hit the water I flipped over, boy that water was cold. Good thing I had a wetsuit on. Then you tube down this subterranean river checking out the glow-worms along the way. Finally, you hike through the caves and then climb up a waterfall to get back to the surface. You will have to added it to your bucket list.
    Dan

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    • Thank you! I’ve always loved traveling and adventure; they seem to go hand-in-hand with writing.

      Now, if I could only master photography, like you, I’d really have something special, but I’ll have to rely on my writing since I seem to still be lacking in the photos area. 🙂

      I love your “a fall scene” shot! It reminds me of home.

      Thanks for reading and commenting; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

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    • After I pushed out the complete fear of everything that surrounded me, like the confined space, darkness, and unknown, I focused on the challenge of it all. Then, I really enjoyed it. Trying to fit through spaces, experiences new things, and figuring out direction with the use of my hands and other senses was an adventure.

      Now that I’m pregnant, I don’t think I’ll be trying caving again any time soon. I have a harder time getting in and out of the car or off of the couch now; forget crawling through a cave 😉

      Thanks for reading. I hope you’re enjoying your journey.

      Lesley

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    • Thank you! I hope that my baby girl will enjoy travel and adventure as much as her parents.

      I love your pictures from Life list # 29. Visit a foreign country.

      Are you from India? I’ve never been there, but I’d love to explore the country. it seems so mysterious and vastly different.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

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  6. A great adventure! I did my first “proper” caving just a few weeks back in Russia, we even did the lights off routine – do you know it didn’t phase me at all! I was underground for 3 or 4 hours, and it certainly seemed like fun – get this – 4 or 5 of the group had no lamp at all! I fancy the diving through sumps bit sometime if I ever get the chance, the only water I experienced was dripping from the ceiling.

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  7. It is rather a oppressive, claustraphobic feeling for me, especially when they turn off the lights. We have caves near where I grew up in Ontario, and it is aweinspiring . . . but like I said, take me out noW. 🙂 I’m more into sky!

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  8. Wow … what an adventure! We have the Lucayan National Park here on Grand Bahama Island, which encompasses one of the longest-known underwater cave systems in the world—over six miles of caves, caverns, and tunnels charted. I am not a diver, but it’s fun to be able to step down into one of the caves and imagine the native Lucayan tribes taking shelter there centuries ago. (And thanks for reminding me I want to write about this!) Thank you for finding my blog, and I’m glad I found yours … wishing you all the best and much joy along your new maternity adventure!

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  9. Wow!!! this post made me remember of my caving adventure!!!
    Staying in complete darkness was sure terrifying to me too!! But it was awesome!!!
    It looked like a video game scenario or something *geek side awakening*

    it’s just perfect to be out in the nature!
    I felt renewed somehow and I really loved it!

    thanks for making me remember my trip!!! ^.^V
    keep blogging!!!

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    • Although I enjoyed the experience and even returned a second time on a school outing as a chaperone, I don’t think I’ll return for another caving adventure.

      I hope you have many more adventures ahead.

      Happy Holidays,

      Lesley

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  10. Pingback: 2012 Bucket List – Adventure Awaits! | Indulge – Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

  11. Darkness in caves is soooo awesome! First time I turned off my headlamp I so was scared to open my eyes, but when I did, I could actually SEE the black. And the sound of dripping water, beautiful! I never felt so small yet so one with the universe.
    Please, give caves one more chance 🙂

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  12. Pingback: 2012 Bucket List – Adventure Awaits!

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