I’m going caving in the desert tomorrow! In triple digit temperatures! \o/ Except I’ll be underground
making a bunch of corny references to the Mines of Moria so it won’t be very hot at all.
It’s October, which means it’s now officially the season where I spend as many weekends as my schedule allows heading out into the middle of nowhere and trudging up rocks and down into caves. ”Middle of nowhere” isn’t really an exaggeration, by the way. Picture this: you drive for several hours on a highway going southeast, through the dried-out mountains and down into the massive desert basin. (The highway’s called the Great Southern Overland Stage Route, by the way, because it’s been around since stagecoaches were making their way to the coast.)
Then you make a hard left off the highway onto absolutely no road at all, using GPS coordinates to know when to turn. And you off-road for about half an hour through the badlands until you reach what my guidebook says looks like “a place where it seems like there might be caves.” Nothing more specific than that, because the land shifts so much out here it’s pointless to try and predict the topography.
And then you put on your headlamp and your climbing gloves and maybe you pick one of the big caves first, where the ceiling’s a few stories high, or maybe you decide to go into one of the squeezes, where there’s just enough room to worm through on your belly. But either way, eventually you go down into the total, complete dark and you try not to think about The Descent or the bats or the scorpions and eventually you’re twenty, thirty, forty minutes away from the surface with dirt in your mouth and your heart hammering in your chest because it just occurred to you that if an earthquake of any size happens, you’re immensely screwed. And that’s when you realize how incredibly, absolutely far away you are from anyone who’s not in that cave with you.
I’m going to try and take video while I’m in there and post it when I get back!