Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Black (10/15/09)
TITLE: A New Hobby
By Marie Fink
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Hiking to the entrance was beautiful. The sun was warm against my face and my eyes were sheltered with the nearest pair of sunglasses I could find before dashing out the door too early that morning. I drank deeply of the fresh air and enjoyed the surroundings of palo verdes, chollas, barrel cacti and other desert flora I have never learned to identify, mixed in with swaying trees and evergreens. Strutting with a purpose I occasionally looked to the ground for sure footing and snake sightings. While I am intrigued by these slithering creatures, I am also irrationally afraid of them.
What was really a short hike seemed like hours as I was anxious to reach the entrance and get started. My friend was eager to share his hobby and his zeal for it is quite contagious. We’d been trying to get together for this adventure for a couple of months and couldn’t synch our busy schedules.
Fitting into the entryway was the first obstacle in my mind, but Charlie just hit the dirt and disappeared before my eyes. I put my shades in my pocket and followed. ‘Whoa,’ I couldn’t see a thing. Charlie told me that my pupils would adjust soon, but I was thinking, ‘Hurry up.’ Instantly, I wanted to back out before the trek even began, but I didn’t want to disappoint my friend or admit to any fear.
Bits and pieces of dirt fell, hitting our brims, lips, then the earthen floor. The air was moist and what my grandmother called, ‘close;’ humid and sticky. As we crept along the grimy terrain there were times we had to actually get on our bellies, the clay ceiling was so low. The mixture of dirt, water, and debris of all sorts, has its own distinct scent. There is something about it that is moldy, yet fresh at the same time.
About twenty minutes after our journey began Charlie asked, “Do you hear that?” Before I could answer he snapped quietly, “Shh…There it is again.” Apparently, moments like these are every caver’s dream. There is great excitement that swells in the heart, literally and figuratively, at the prospect of a new discovery, a bigger whole in the earth; a mixture of water, air, and minerals to create fantastic formations of another world.
Twenty more feet and we were in a larger opening. The ceiling was higher by about 10 feet at least. I could tell this was exciting and amazing by Charlie’s hushed, “Wow!” and, “Amazing!” and “Wow!” again. We slowly and cautiously stood up. Pupils adjusted, we could see for several yards or more. The sight before us was awesome and gave us pause to praise the Creator! Pools of muddy water were sparkling with circular movements. Our eyes traveled upward to this majestic ceiling to follow the droplets causing these incredible rings. Our eyes met the water as we tracked the droplets, but from where they were dripping was the most intriguing sight of the day. Sparkling, slender, slinky, soda straws! There were dozens, not to exaggerate, and maybe hundreds, at the risk of overstating.
We sat in peaceful sweet silence for at least a half an hour. Our minds could scarcely take in the beauty in which we were surrounded. Much to our chagrin our gazes were startled by flickering flashlights. We began our day without fresh batteries. Reluctantly we scrambled to the narrow passageway from which we came, and then much to our dismay total darkness descended upon us. There was dead silence but for our beating hearts, and complete and utter blackness. Before time, before form, there was absolute nothing, except Him.
We were able to feel our way back through the familiar route. Rays of sunshine streaming on our cheeks helped the upper world come into view. Without having to say a word, my friend knew that I would be back for more underground exploration.
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