Whirlpool Trip Report: September 2016

The Beginnings of Adventure

Spelunking is one of those adventures you fall in love with the second you feel the cool cave air across your skin.  Whirlpool Preserve was a unique beginning cave that I would have never imagined finding myself in. Pulling off and underpass into a gravel patch bellow fast moving cars I wondered what I got myself into, but that didn’t last for long. Standing at the entrance, staring down into a dark hole; a mixture of excitement, nerves and adventure floods your body.  Protected by a helmet, kneepads and old clothes I climbed my way down a nine foot hole into a dark room with only my headlamp to light my way. Immediately we were on our hands, knees and bellies wiggling our way through the twists and turns of the cave. It was as if we were the water following a path carved over centuries of Earth’s history. Contorting our bodies to fit through body sized tunnels to find larger rooms where we could crawl and explore cave formations that have evolved through slow deposition and erosion. After an hour and a half of making my way through the cave taking paths that were physically tiring, beautiful and at times intimidating I found myself in the Travis County Room which is the culmination of this spelunking adventure. A good sized room opens up before us bringing a breath of relief from the whole team as we can now stand and walk around. Right in the center is a swirling hole that is the drain for the surrounding region.  Picking a spot to sit or lay down we all took a minute to breathe and enjoy the reality of where we were; bellow a bustling road way and world of people who had no idea we were there.

To experience a new sense of reality were submerged ourselves in total darkness by turning off our headlamps. It was like experiencing a new level of black in a silence that echoed in our ears. In that kind of darkness the mind creates a new way to understand; the phantom hand is a trick of the mind that makes you feel as if you can see your hand in this complete darkness, so we all spent some time exploring the powers of our minds.

Knowing the next team was headed in we began our ascent to the surface. Covered in sweat and dirt we passed back through the birth canal; the smallest hole we had to squeeze ourselves through, said goodbye to the cave crickets and spiders and ascended to the surface.  Taking one last look at the cave with my beam of light scanning the walls I was able to say “I did it” and know I can take on any cave that might come my way. By staying calm and powering through the moments that screamed you can’t fit through, you’ll get stuck and I’m not sure I can do this; I was able to build a base of confidence that I can carry with me in anything I do. Whirlpool was an adventure I will never forget and I can’t wait for the next one to come my way.

Published: 11/28/16 6:31PM

By Victoria Scriven