Well, it was not what we expected,
but we can claim a victory over challenges!
We were off to a strong start.
The young mama (the other Sherry) and the old mama (me) thought it would be brilliant to hike up the trail (in the warm, muggy weather) and then cool off through the cave on the way back. Normally one would go through the cave first, then hike down the trail. The cave is always a pretty steady 42 degrees (F), so it made sense to us. *smile*
The adventurist hikers that were with us were of a variety of ages;
3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 15, 17(?), & 19.
Sweet Shelbee (3) faded before we began and got to ride on her mama’s back from the get-go.
Bryson (4) was wilting just by the hike up the trail. It was warm, he kept tripping, he drank most of the water we had on us before we even got to the cave entrance (er exit). TJ (15) who is always the caboose of the pack, making sure everyone is accounted for, was already a bit edgy due to Bryson already fussing and meandering.
We found the opening finally! Woo Hoo! as Katie (10) slips and cuts her hand, and is warm from the hike, then decides to go all pale on me, so I drag her to a somewhat shady spot to tend her wound. While I am doing this, the older boys (Preston & Nick) are letting me know that there is not a safe way to get down into the cave. (that should have been my first clue *wink*).
Psshhtt, really how hard can it be? I had been here, er 15 yrs ago, and it wasn’t that difficult. (uh, yeah, who listens to me anyways?). So brave mom me makes Nick check it out, then I venture down the slanted steel grate stairs and decide the as long as a little followed behind each big person we could probably make it down. One by one we descend into the cave. Just as we expected it was dark and COLD!
And the adventure begins!
Oh wow, that’s quite a mound of boulders to get over- this is what I am thinking to myself. I’m not sure Bryson is so agile for this but let’s get over and pass this. Slow-n-steady, but done. phew!
Oh look, another massive mound of boulders! Really? I don’t remember this? As we peak the top, I discover that the cave walls are sharp as Bryson scraps up his hand trying to find balance. (this should have been my 2nd clue). He recovers, we get to ground level again…
to once again face a mound of boulders! Ugh! really? We’ve already been at this for 30 minutes, so no sense going back, right? After all, this is only suppose to be 1 1/4 mile long cave. so we journey on, heap piles of jagged, shifting rocks to conquer!
At this point, Sherry, with child on her back is tag teaming with me to help Bryson. Every step had to be methodically thought out for him. We had to have a grip on him at all times. Yes, it was not particularly safe, but at what point to you turn back or keep going, eh?
In the foreground of this all is my sweet aspie boy (Andrew 7) who usually shuts down after a leisure walk of 30 min! Also, he is not particularly coordinated, can be quite quirky actually. Between the hike up the trail and through the cave (so far) it has been well over 2 hours. The guys are semi keeping an eye on him, and he is climbing like a pro, flashlight in hand and all!
At this point we run into some hikers (going the right way) and they inform us that we still have another 1 1/2 hours to go! Then my brain processes that in reality that means it will be much longer for us due to Bryson and his safety. This group also let us know that there would be a wall (they called it the waterfall) that would be very bit tricky to get down.
Sure enough, we come to it. A 6 ft drop (did I mention I don’t like heights?). We scale down it best we can. The other Sherry was like a pro at it; me? not so elegant, lol.
And we venture on… and on… and on…
When one of my lovely son’s say “Oh! Here is the “waterfall”. And I am thinking “no way”, another wall to scale down, really? In my state of denial is about the time I lost my footing, with both feet slipping our from under me at the same time with a slam on to my tushy. Thank the good Lord it was a flat rock! All I could envision on my way crashing down was that I was gonna get stuck in a hole (I was on one of those heap piles of boulders) and I would be like Winnie-the-Pooh stuck in Rabbit’s Hole. But all was well, until I got to the “waterfall” that is…
An 8 ft drop with nearly no spots to grip. Nick went down first, then me (the wimpy one). Nick HAD to help, as there was nothing to hold on to, and, well, I am short. All I could imagine was falling on my dear son, having him crash down and crack his head open on all those jagged rocks (pretty thought, eh?); not only did he get me down, he pretty much helped everyone else too! Yay for adult sons!
And we venture on…and on… and…
Wahhhhh! my nose! Wahhh! my hands! Wahhh!
It was my Andrew! Up much further than I was, I had no idea how he was! (a nauseating moment). Thankfully others were with him, but he got a bit hysterical. The autistic mannerism came to surface as he sobbed uncontrollably. Well, apparently they were sitting and taking pictures while waiting on my (and Bryson) and he got up and simply tripped. So… after tending his wounds on his hands, I got to carry all 60 lbs of him for about 15 min when our next mound of boulders came a knockin’. Fortunately, he went into hiker mode again, and took off like quite a trooper.
At this point we are 4 hours into this “little” hike. Bryson is oblivious to walking anymore, and we (I) have to physically plant him on each and every boulder I want him on, then twist and crawl around said child, and physically pick him up to plant him onto the next rock. Sherry and the most the kids were way up ahead at this point. She stayed with Andrew, and didn’t want to slow him down. (good choice). Nick and TJ stayed with me while I endured handling Bryson. Nick did carry him through a few tough points. Then we came to the worst climb yet, up, up, up, up, and over we go.
Ugh, is this EVER going to end? I have a whole new meaning for “the light at the end of the tunnel“! =)
VIOLA, we did it! we see light! and the stairs to climb out! Woo Hoo!
Then I see Andrew. Oh my. Scrapped knees, scrapped nose, but he was so proud of himself for making it.
Poor wee Shelbee was fortunate to sleep on her mama’s back most of the way, but she was very cold, and we were thankful that it was warm outside!
Then we see the sign!
UPPER CAVE – small children NOT recommended!
We are bruised and banged up, have sore legs and stiff backs, but oh.so.grateful for no major injuries.
Next time we will pay attention to the small details such as going into the family-friendly LOWER cave!
And THAT was our 1st Day of School!
Let the adventures continue…