Friday, May 7, 2010

Spelunking (with a cache nearby)

I took a day of vacation today to chaperone my daughters field trip to Ledge View Nature Center near Chilton, WI. What a great day we had. There were 10 students from the 5th / 6th grade class along with their teacher and two of us chaperones. The main activity for the day was a guided spelunking tour. We were told ahead of time to plan on getting dirty and grubby which was a good forewarning. Our guides name was Ron and he was extremely passionate about about his love for the underground caverns he took us through.

Please keep in mind these caves are completely unlit meaning that the only light we had was from the flashlights we took with us. The pictures are a little deceiving because the flash makes it look almost like daylight.

This first picture is inside Carolyn's Caverns where we had to traverse a 40' long tunnel to get to our first stop. In this area we started out and hands and knees and then had to belly crawl the last 20'. The caverns were very wet and muddy today as you'll see in the pictures.

This picture is coming back from where we were. CamoQueen (my daughter) is in the background belly crawling out. It was tight for the kids, and even tighter for us adults.
This next three pictures are from our trip into "The Wishing Well" which is within Carolyn's Caverns. The first picture shows CamoQueen making the trip down the ladder. The second is CamoQueen coming to the top of the opening. The last picture shows CamoQueen making a "graceful" exit into the mud. This is one of those were getting in is way more challenging than getting out. The ceiling is only 2' above the opening and you have to go in backwards which means you have to start in a pushup position and go backwards through the opening and onto the ladder which you can't see but can feel with your feet.

The next picture is a little creature (a relative term apparently) called a cave spider. In actuality it's about the size of a quarter and just a little on the creepy side.
The second cave we visited was called Montgomery Cave and has been a known cave here since the 1860's. This picture shows the small entry hatch that is used to descend into the cave.

This picture is from the bottom of the ladder looking back up towards daylight. The opening looks deceiving because it's actually only about 18" x 24" which is a bit challenging for average size adults like me.

This next picture shows CamoQueen at the bottom of the second ladder descending into the lower portion of this cave which put us about 30' below the opening. The cavern in this section is about 3' high making it impossible to stand upright.

While we were in Montgomery cave we met another special friend show here who just "hung" around the whole time we were there. He was alive and breathing but stayed sleeping the entire time we were here.

After spending 3+ hours underground in the darkness (and out of the rain) we emerged to much colder air. Ron (our guide) is shown standing next to CamoQueen. Notice the muddy clothes and this was after we brushed the majority of the "chunks" off.

In the title I mentioned "with a cache nearby". The cache was called "I can see for miles and miles..." (GC1496G) The picture below is taken from the top of the 60' tower and you can see Ron (our guide) and the teacher waiting at the bottom.

Definately an awesome day and something I wouldn't have tried had it not been a class field trip. Ledge View Nature Center is open to the public and they do public tours (so you can experience this first hand as well). I would highly recommend this cave tour to anyone looking for a different experience.