Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Anyone for Exploring?

I almost lost my nerve in Connor’s Cave but the fear of turning back into the dark cavern to retrace my steps alone frightened me more than going forward with the group.

“Come on Mom, don’t wimp out,” Suzie urged.

“Give me your hand,” offered Ed.

Suzie confidently led us into Connor’s Cave.

We were in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in Columbia, Missouri. Suzie planned this outing for our visit because she knows I have an affection for caves. My interest in caves started when the Brothers and some daring Little Sisters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity crawled and squeezed through the “unexplored” sections of the Laurel Caverns near Uniontown, PA over 30 years ago. Now, at 52 years of age, I much prefer the guided tours of the Merrimac Caverns or Carlsbad Caverns. But, here we were at Connor’s Cave – Suzie, Matt, Nicole, Ed and I – ankle deep in an underground stream with bats clinging to the rocks where I almost placed my hand for stability.

The walk to the cave was easy enough. The path wound through a short segment, maybe half-mile, of the 15 miles of trails that traverse the 2,273-acre park. We posed for groups photos along the way. Part of the trail was like a boardwalk, so I admit, I was a bit surprised to find myself walking on the muddy, slippery rock surfaces and wading in cold water in Connor’s Cave.

Challenging myself not to “wimp out”, I grasped Ed’s hand. We hunched over in the low spots of the cavern. When we could stand, we’d shine our flashlights up into the rock crevices. Mostly, we moved single file until to my relief we could go no deeper into the cave. I felt relief enough to smile broadly for the camera as we tried different group shots on rock ledges and wedged between the underground crevices.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is located on Highway 163 South in Columbia, Missouri.

April 29, 2008

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