Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Down in a Cave
When I think of caves, I think of bats, snakes, spiders, and other miscellaneous creepy crawlies. Then there are the small spaces and the cave-ins. I have spent really no time down in a cave so maybe I have taken Indiana Jones' word for it... I really have nothing else to go on. Until NOW! This past weekend I went on something called a "Boonie Stomp". A "Boonie Stomp" is pretty much just a hike on Guam. Because many of the trails are overgrown or less than grooved, it is just like it sounds, going out to the "Boonies". I experienced my first of hopefully many this past Saturday which went to a cave on Guam. There are different groups that do the hikes, but the main one meets in a central part on the island at 9 a.m. every Saturday to give a briefing and directions. From there, Akashi, Michael and I made it to the starting point of the stomp with the other 25-30 people. It's a definitely a mixed group in which we stood out. Partly because of our age, but mostly because of our questionable attire. We traded long sleeve and pant protection for shorts and t-shirts, and hiking boots for our cross trainers. The distance wasn't very long but with the mixture of thick brush, ascending and descending rock floored jungle hills, and the over/under jungle vines it took a while to go a little. Not to mention the extra care to not faceplant in a spider web. This spider that we kept seeing I was told was not poisonous, which made me feel slightly better about sharing my face's personal space with it so often(emphasis on slightly).
After finally making it to the final destination, I used my pack as a seat cushion and took a break while most of those on the stomp made it in and out of the cave. Finally, Akashi and Michael decided to go in the cave, not something I was super excited about since I had really just come for the hike and not the cave. The cave opening was about 6 feet across and 1-3 feet tall. It looked like a rough rocky mouth of the jungle floor hungry and waiting, I couldn't wait to get in(*insert sarcasm*). I convinced myself with a simple "why not" and a shoulder shrug to go in to the belly of the rocky jungle beast. To my surprise, the cave opened up a great deal once I climbed down through the initial opening, claustrophobia didn't stand a chance here. To my even greater surprise, no snakes, bats, spiders, or other creepy crawlies to be found! With each new discovery, "Enter Cave" is moving higher and higher on my list of things to do again. We decsended about 80-100 feet down in to the earth very carefully, seemingly playing an adlib game of "flashlight-no light" on the way down, since we had one flashlight for three people. I learned that down in the cave the man with the flashlight is king. We made it down to the bottom area of the cave to find one of our guides, a military man, is cooling down in a natural rain water pool. Believe it or not I am actually starting to like caves at this point. I mean if I was on the run, needed a hide out, and could get some light going in this cave maybe, just maybe I would be okay with living in here. Okay probably not, but I wouldn't mind coming back and exploring it at a later date.
We make our exit after cooling in the pool for a bit. From there we make the trip back to the starting point the way we came. After about an hour or so, we make it back to the truck. Before we get back, we are already planning our next stomp and cave adventure. It was safe to say at that point my feelings toward caves had changed. The total trip with breaks and other site detours was about 4-5 hours. The first stomp was now in the books, and who knows maybe I have even increased my rank to journeyman stomper. Score!
We left the other stompers only to run in to some of them again at a nearby barbeque stand that oddly enough serves Bratwurst, called McKraut's. We had a nice relaxed lunch in the open air and made our way back to home base, the UOG dorms. I was still wet from the cave pool, but I have become a fan of what I call "Guam Quick Dry" a.k.a the back of a small pickup truck. I have been spending a lot of time in truck beds in the past 3 weeks and I think I am actually starting to enjoy it. Needless to say we made it home safely, stomp #1 in the books, stomp #2 here we come.
*P.S. we stopped at a beach and I found some coconuts on the way home...
People make assumptions. It's something we are all proned to doing and they can many times be helpful time savers depending upon the kwoledge they are based upon. They can also prevent us from a fulfilled life. I had certain assumptions about caves because I had only hollywood images and no real experience or other prior reading/research. Don't let your own or other peoples assumptions stop you from reaching your desired destinations whether it be down in a cave or reaching for the stars or something in between. Read, research, talk to people who have done it or been there, and experiment. The chances are the life that you really want is being lived by someone else right now somewhere around the earth. They didn't get there by assuming it wasn't possible or by listening to others assume it. They believed it was possible and failed enough to learn how to get there.
"If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance." ~Orville Wright