Sunday, July 7, 2013

When Was The Last Time You Went Spelunking?


The last time I went spelunking at Crystal Cave in Kutztown, Pennsylvania was when I was in elementary school about 20 years ago. I don’t remember much about the fieldtrip but it didn’t take much to have the memories come back to me once we stepped foot into the screening room near the entrance of the cave. While the clacking of the projector was now absent, the movie remained the same which allowed my childhood to come back to me.

With the heat index nearing 100 degrees, the 55 degree coolness of the cave was a welcomed change from the sweltering summer soup. It took some time for our eyes to adjust and the rock that surrounded us had little detail at the beginning.

Soon some details began to emerge and we were able to take a closer look at a few of the columns that surrounded us.

Fortunately, we are not in an earthquake area as the fault line ran right through the middle of the cave.

With our pupils fully dilated, the beauty of this other world began to show through with what, at first glance, looks like a garden of hanging carrots in the corner of the first room.

Our bearings established, we made our way deeper into the subterranean world.

Like many city streets that surround our neighborhood, even caves have pot holes. However, I have never seen a gap in the asphalt that looked like this one.

This second room is where the colors of the cave displayed the natural mosaic that provides warmth that is difficult to explain in words or pictures.

The growth of formations can also be witnessed by way of the variety of stalactites throughout the network of tunnels. From infants…

… to pubescent mineral deposits.

When viewing this progression of forming formations we are reminded here and there that they can easily be gone in an instant.

Walking over the stunted stalagmites we also took note of the immense lake that sits just beside one of the upper platforms. This body of water is also known as Lake Inferior.  

The flow of water in the cave is not limited to the slow drips from the ceilings and the pools scattered about the ledges, it also forms waterfalls frozen in time…

…and surrounded by small patches of moss from the artificial daylight.

Something to keep in mind when spelunking, especially when frequently looking through a viewfinder, is that a slight tilt of the head can make you a little dizzy…

…and make you feel like the roof is coming down on you.

So take your time and enjoy the colors that surround you…

… and don’t be afraid if it feels like someone is looking over you.

By taking your time and looking around at the different textures, colors, and formations you experience such an amazing variety of feelings.

There are different points throughout the tour where I would look up and see a clear autumn night full of stars.

But what took my breath away was when I looked off to the far end of the room and saw what looked like scaffolding climbing up the rocks.

It looked much like what I would imagine the structure that Michelangelo would lay on to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. When I looked up I saw not a depiction of G-d but the work of G-d’s own hand.

Thankfully I had captured all the images that I wanted to before that discovery because there was no way that I was going to be able to follow that photo. So we headed toward the light and into the seasonal stranglehold. Crystal Cave was a completely different experience as an adult and I would encourage a visit for those that may have seen it as a child (the same can be said for most local caves). It was an interesting way to relive a small part of my childhood and see things from a completely different perspective.

To concluded our day trip this weekend we grabbed a quick bite, enjoyed a swift game of miniature golf, and spent a few minutes and a couple dollars browsing in the air conditioned souvenir shops (you can read about my discover at one of the shops in my previous post). With all buildings explored and the heat beginning to diminish our energy, we headed back to the car and made our way home. Now it’s time to rest up for next weekend.