Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spelunking

On a mid-April day, Matt and I decided to go on an adventure. 

I really wanted to go to Cades Cove and hike to Abram's Falls, but the loop was closed due to construction on the road, so we couldn't go there.  Instead we decided to go to the Forbidden Caverns.

A couple of our friends went along for the ride with us, Mickey & Hilton.

It was a beautiful day with a gorgeous ride over the Smokies.  We had the windows down, radio up and were singing and laughing to our heart's content. 

As we arrived in the backwoods of Sevier County at the mouth of the caverns, I must say, my anxiety was getting slowly increasing.   I knew that I would be anxious.  But if I plan things of this nature in advance, then I will back out of going last minute.  The pressure that builds in my chest is almost unbearable when I think about putting myself in what I consider to be a "potentially" dangerous situation.  I am fully aware that millions of people have been in and out of the caverns prior to my trip, and there will be millions of people years after I left that place.  But I will say, you cannot convince me that it is a "safe place" when I am almost 700' below the earth's surface, in a dark, damp, bat infested area.  That screams "DANGER" to me, therefore making my blood pressure rise through the roof and making my chest feel as if an elephant is standing on it.  I'm just saying.

We go inside, purchase our tickets and then are told to wait about 15 minutes for the next tour.  "What?!?!  You mean we can't go right now?"  See it is in moments like this - when I've swallowed my fears and instructed my nerves to turn to steel - that I am at my bravest.  In order to keep my anxiety at an all time low, I have to do things of this nature immeidately.  If I have to wait, then my brain turns into a battlefield.  One side prepping me for bravery and courage that I can come out of this place a champ.  The other side prepping my legs to be prepared to run and my vocal chords to be the perfect pitch of "I'm scared for my life."  Its a vicious cycle.

This 15 minutes of wait time was serious and daunting.  I was walking through the gift shop trying to crack jokes, playing with the "hillbilly" wooden tools/toys, and pacing the floors.  I was desperate to keep my nerves of steel in tact meanwhile, trying to talk myself out of fleeing from the building as a screaming banchee. 

Finally! They are ready for the next tour and I was still in the building!  As the door was openned I heard "Da Da Dunnnnnnnnn" coming from the back of my mind.  Oh boy.  One deep breath of courage and I began my decent to the door of the cave.  Gag...I could have barfed.  

Matt bless his heart was not so sweet.  He thinks its funny when I have my "moments."  I was scared to death just standing at the mouth of that cave, let alone being inside of it!  But he did let me hang onto him. 

Standing at the mouth you could feel the cool 58 degrees hitting you in the face and then surrounding your entire body in a chill.  (at least mine was in a chill.)  Our tour guide was a little lady who obviously didn't realize my fear of birds (and yes that includes bats.)  Matt and Hilton thought it funny to flip their fingers through my hair as if a bat had just taken up nest.  So not cool guys.  The deeper we got, the heavier the elephant got that was standing on my chest.

After a bit I got used to being in the coolness and damp surroundings.  The story behind the Caverns is pretty cool.  Indians used it for a while, then during prohibition the moonshiners hung out in there.  It was pretty near heraing the history of the place.  There is also a 99% pure spring that runs through the bottom of the Cavern.  Its pretty neat-o.  The tour also includes different light shows on the rock formations, nothing extravagant, but interesting. 

By the time we got back to the mouth of the cavern I was ready to run out of there and never come back.  It was a fun experience, but I can do without the elephant on my chest.  haha 

These are some of the photos from the trip down under.....literally.

Mickey & I.  Can you see the nerves?
Please don't make me go in there!  You can tell he is not so thrilled.
Hello, 9-1-1?  Ah, stupid wooden phone!
Matt's briefcase he uses at Pepsi.
Facing shaving anyone?  (i'm getting anxious by this time.)
I have no idea what this is called -- a Jumping Jackahawk?

Stalagmites (I might grow up one day) and Stalactites (I'm holding tight so I don't fall)
The largest Stalactite in the Cavern - over 5' long.
Column --- do you see the crack?  Nerves of steel are fading by this point.
One of the light shows.
Stream
Moonshine barrel bands or whatever they are called.
This is the entrance that the moonshiners used.  The picture doesn't show it very well, but it is no wider than what you see and STRAIGHT UP!  They meant serious!
Wishing Well.  And yes I made a wish.  (they also say that whenever water drips on you from the cavern ceiling, those are Cave Kisses.  I received several of those.)
Group of Salactites
The 99% Pure Drinking Water River that runs through the bottom of the cavern.
River again.
Corn on the Cob.

3 comments:

  1. What an exciting adventure! I'm a bit claustrophobic, so dark enclosed spaces aren't my thing... I'll just enjoy your pictures and leave the spelunking to you :)

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  2. Oh wow this was a neat post. I am glad you put stuff like this on here cause I never get tp dp stuff like this so it's neat seeing it....

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  3. Amber the kids would love it when they get a little older. Its a fun date idea too! :)

    Sarah, yes I know how you feel. I was so stressed it wasn't even funny! haha

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