Spelunking. Ever hear of it? It’s this great activity people do where they explore caves for fun.
Yes…caves! Like dark and cold and bears and bats.
Those kinda caves.
I never in a million years thought that I would’ve ever found myself crawling into a deep, scary, unknown hole in the earth. But, alas, I did it.
And it was SO COOL.
I have somewhat of a fear of small, dark spaces. So all you claustrophobic kids out there could probably imagine how I was feeling when my friend, Brian, told me we were going to be spelunking on my recent trip to Utah.
He’s an avid adventure-seeker, always on the move…Always hiking, mountain-biking, rock climbing, you name it. So knowing that he had experience in such intense activities made me feel much better about taking a stab at it myself.
I knew he’d talk me through it and catch me if I were to fall (which he and my other friend, Zach, actually did…but I’m getting ahead of myself.)
If I’m to offer one tip for anyone trying to spelunk for the first time, it would be to see about going with someone who’s done it before.
It’s all about safety when you’re out there so I would never recommend doing something like this alone.
Please use and abuse the buddy system, friends.
When I went, the three of us drove down from Salt Lake City to Snow Canyon State Park in southern Utah.
FYI: it makes for a sick pitstop on the way to Vegas from SLC 😉
What I thought was the coolest thing about the park was that there were black lava rocks everywhere from an extinct volcano nearby!
The cave we ended up exploring was actually considered a lava tube. It was created by the flow of lava from the volcano a long time ago.
We got there about mid-day, while there were still other small groups going through. Seeing that, also, gave me a small nudge of confidence because I saw some groups had small children with them. I thought that if they could do it, how difficult could it be?
My friend’s dad lent us some head lamps to use so we didn’t have to rely on our phone flashlights while we were ducking, climbing, shimmying, and crawling.
And, let me tell you, I was super grateful to have had that little hook up because I know my phone would’ve been shattered into a million pieces by the end, otherwise.
Plus, I felt like I looked experienced in the fine art of spelunking while wearing mine (or maybe I just looked like a total wannabe…oh well, I rocked it either way.)
I didn’t realize prior to this trip that exploring caves would entail so much physical effort. I thought I’d just be crawling mostly, but it turns out there’s a lot of climbing involved too.
“Caves are like humans. They’re all different shapes and sizes and beautiful in their own way.” -Me
So basically, if you can, try to prepare yourself with some upper body strengthening ahead of time. Or, I mean, you could always be like me and literally lean on your friends for a boost (thanks B & Z!)
There was one ledge we came to inside the cave that was probably only about 4-5 feet high or so, but from my perspective (and with being terrified of heights in normal circumstances,) I was seeing it as about an 8 foot drop.
Both of my friends went ahead of me for this part and when my turn came they had to “talk me down from the ledge”…literally.
I tried the 3-points of contact method to lower myself, but my brain had little-to-no-faith in my stubby limbs getting the job done so in the end the guys had to grab my feet to create somewhat of a base for me.
This ultimately didn’t work out as expected and I fell (not so) gracefully onto them.
…I think they still love me…
The lava tube wasn’t insanely long. I feel like it was just the right length for our adventure.
When we reached the end, there was this large, fairly empty space that we got to explore a bit.
It was cool cause at one moment we turned our lights off to experience the utter darkness and stillness of the environment around us. Some kids had previously broken glowsticks all over the rocks so all you could see were these little specks of light everywhere.
It was so magical and such a serene moment. It’s cheesy to say, but I’m so glad I got to experience that with my friends.
In order to appease the old ancient Chinese proverb: “pics or it didn’t happen,” we used our headlamps as spotlights to get some fun selfies to share with the insta world.
It goes without saying that we made it out of there alive…Just check out this triumphant picture of me with headlamp in hand and headlamp marking on forehead!
‘Twas a good day. I didn’t encounter any bears, nor did I break any bones.
Would I go spelunking again? Absolutely.
Will I be more prepared next time? That’s the goal.
Would I recommend it to you? 100%, yes!
It’s a fantastic activity to check off the ol’ bucket list. And it’s really cool because it allows you to immerse yourself in something that may be completely out of your comfort zone.
…Also, it’s so fun to see the look on people’s faces when you tell them you went “spelunking.” Such an awesome word, amirite?
Obviously, my first time spelunking will be different than yours will most likely be, but I hope this gave you a good insight as to what its like.
If you do end up trying it, be sure to tag and follow @SincerelyTaylerLee on Instagram so I can see all your cool adventures!