An intrepid group of beginner cave explorers from all corners of campus arose on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, ready for a grand adventure in Vermont. It was a beautiful sunny day, though cold. When we reached the land of snow-capped peaks and thinly frozen lakes, we suited up and climbed the treacherous cliff-path to a beautiful sight: a little frozen pond, and a waterfall down another cliff that had created dozens of frozen icicles, and little ice-flowers below.
After being dazzled by the sight, we entered the yawning mouth of the cave--there were several holes, so we hoped we'd picked the main entrance. We crawled and crawled and crawled, ignoring several turn-offs for the time being, until the going got so small that I could no longer push my head forward as the helmet scraped on both ceiling and floor. This couldn't possibly be the right way, so we backtracked and started exploring the turnoffs as we came to them. One was a dead-end full of cave spiders and crickets, and another Akira and Michael explored but said it got dubiously too small to continue. Eventually we re-emerged at the cave entrance, somewhat confused.
Not to be deterred, we commenced exploring all the other holes and possible entrances. Several were quite wet, another was full of giant spiders, but none seemed to lead anywhere. Eventually, as I poked my head out of a spider-filled tunnel, another group of intrepid cave explorers appeared and began suiting up. They told us that the way that Michael and Akira had thought was too small was the way. So we re-entered, and, sure enough, made it through the cobble-stone-filled crawlway. I'm never trusting the word of a beginner again. We squished through several more tight squeezes until we emerged in the huge main room of the cave. After having a snack and some water, we descended the rope into the lake room, and peered into the water. Nobody chanced a swim. The other group said that people had gone scuba diving in the lake and found fossils of sabre-tooth tigers. They were a rather joking group though, so I'm not sure whether I believe them or not.
After climbing back up the rope, we climbed to the summit of the main room, dodging bats and trickles of water. On the way down we tried exploring a side crack ("the sandwich") through a trickle of water, which ended up going quite a ways to a marble spiral. But it was getting late, so we eventually turned back and crawled back through the squeezes to the cave entrance. It was dark and it sounded like it was raining, but that was just the waterfall. We hurried down the cliff path, trying not to kill ourselves on the ice, and jumped in the cars after stripping our now-frozen cave clothes. We stopped at a rundown gas station corner store on the way back to sate our hunger with bad food that never tasted so good.
-This trip's Fearless Leader, Christine