Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ferrum Outdoors: Caving

Aaron Conover
Adventure Programmer
Ferrum Outdoors

Students donned helmets and headlamps this past Sunday (January 23, 2011) in preparation for Ferrum Outdoors’ next adventure. A brisk wind blew a few snowflakes around as they made their way up the trail to the Cave entrance. Once there, everyone felt the warm air that was flowing from the small opening and looked forward to getting out of the cold. So, they grabbed their packs, turned on their lights and crawled in.

Caves generally maintain a fairly constant temperature year round. This is based on an annual average for the area where the cave is located -- which means that for this region of Virginia it is approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes an inviting environment for a winter activity and also bat hibernation. Many caves are closed this time of year because of this. The cave we visited has a section that is ideal for exploration and does not disturb the area where the bats have settled in for their long winter nap.

This is a wild cave so there are no walking paths, tour guides (except for the trip leaders) or electric lights on the walls. The first room that the cavers entered provided an array of stalagmites, stalactites, columns and other formations. It was also the place where they sat down and turned off their headlamps to let their eyes adjust to complete darkness. But, in order to see more they had to turn the lamps back on, crawl through openings, help each other climb down and out of passages plus get a little bit muddy. The participants had fun working as team, learning proper caving techniques and experiencing a unique underground environment on this trip.

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