Feb 5, 2016

Resilience by Sherry W.

January 6, 2016

Before coming to the United States, I had never heard of caving. Our school group headed to Lighthouse Cavern. This was the very first time I had ever gone caving. The proper term for this hobby is called 'spelunking' which involves exploring cave conduits.
Entrance of Lighthouse Cave. Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jsjgeology/16321380981
Upon entering the cave, under the darkness of the main chamber, I had a mixture of emotions going through my head. Normally, I would be afraid of such a dark and closed-off environment - one that I'm not familiar with. At the same time, I felt super excited to explore something so foreign and new to me! It was an interesting mix of feelings.  
The dry main chamber of Lighthouse Cave is decorated with a beautiful array of thousand-year old speleothems. Columns, draperies, stalactites, stalagmites, and bell holes can all be observed! Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jsjgeology/15705358684  
Transitioning from dry cave to a submerged tunnel was a fun shock. For one, the water here is a mix of salt and fresh that is refreshingly chilly. I followed the others in a single line as my headlamp illuminated ahead of me. The journey was relatively dark, and thoughts of creatures living beneath the water creeped into my head...I was afraid, but the idea of exploring something new propelled me forward. 
Entering the submerged phreatic zone of the cavern.
These headlamps were our guiding light!
We trekked further into the cave and into deeper water. At one point, my feet could no longer touch the rock below and began to swim in order to explore further. All over, I could see incredible formations on the cave walls. Once we reached the end of the cave, there was an 'island' of limestone where we were able to rest on. It was here when we turned off all of our headlamps and felt what is was like to be in complete darkness. Nowadays, people rely too much on technology and don't take the time for serenity and meditation. This experience was unique and unforgettable for me.