The leader of our group was a guy named Brock Friedman. Originally from Illinois, he was a big geology buff and greatly looked forward to going through the cave. The other fellow, from Wisconsin, went by the name of Daniel. Brock and Daniel (along with two others) elected to spend the summer in a house in Winona rather than go back home only to return in the fall (we were all students at Winona State University). I remember Brock mentioning a few times that he had a fear of driving up hills. He didn't know where this originated (perhaps he was a wheelburrow in a past life).
It was lightly sprinkling as we arrived at our destination. In order to get to the cave, we first had to climb a reasonably steep hill and then hike about half a mile. The rain had started to make the side of the hill (which was mostly sand) awfully muddy. We grabbed onto branches as we ascended. I was quite surprised that I didn't slip into the mud at all. My pants were clean. The worst was over.
We continued our hike with Brock leading. The rain was starting to increase. About 10 minutes later, we saw a sign that said "Pop's Cave" and proceeded to enter. The light from the sky gradually decreased as we descended. The other guys couldn't wait to get deeper, but it was then that I started hesitating.
The cave was going to be completely dark and all we had were a couple floodlights. What bothered me even more were the constrained quarters. This wasn't as big a cave as I'd hoped. I'm sure it eventually opened up more, but my fear started to get the best of me and I told the guys I couldn't go any further. They asked if I was sure. I said I was and headed back up to the real world. What a relief to get outta that hole.
I remember that Brock had locked all the car doors which was a bummer since I really woulda liked just relaxing in a dry car while waiting for the completion of their expedition. Screw it. I'm gonna head down there, anyway. So I walked back towards the top of the hill and then went down it. This time, I did get my pants dirty. Fudge.
I wanted one of the car doors to be open in the worst way, but knew they weren't. I crossed the road and went to open one of the doors. OMG! One of them was open. How could this be? I was incredibly thankful at my good fortune (God?) and changed clothes in the car. The time in Brock's car gave me time to reflect on life. Several months before, I'd been diagnosed with major depression, but with the help of therapy, medication, and Godfather's pizza, I was able to return to life with renewed vigor. I rested for a while, thankful for everything in my life.
I don't know how long it was before the guys showed up, 90 minutes, 2 hours, I didn't have a watch, so had no idea. I told them about the door being open. They told me how much fun they'd had exploring. We were all in a good mood as we headed back to Minnesota. Brock mentioned he wanted to stop in LaCrosse to pick up some kind of anime vid. We watched it that evening as our big day came to a close. Though the day was nothing like what'd I planned, I went to bed grateful for the opportunity to spend time with friends and feeling that perhaps a bloke named God just might be on my side.