Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pop's Cave

In the late summer of 1993, two of my college friends asked if I'd like to go with them to a place in Wisconsin called Pop's Cave. I'd never really been in a cave before and felt it'd be a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We left early in the morning with a change of clothes and plenty of supplies. The day was overcast, but that wasn't a concern as the cave was underground.

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.


Rocketstar said...

I feel the same way about small cramped places, don't like'em.

Timothy Smith said...

Back in MN a friend and I were crawling through a rain runoff pipe under a road and I got stuck half way through. I could not move and was directly under the road above. I knew they would have to tear the road up to remove me. Little by little I inched my way back out of the pipe. (after crying for about an hour)

Oh my, never again. I never had a problem with tight spaces until then (age 12).

I do now!

Thomas said...

Rocket, I'm sure we're in the majority on that.

Tim, that sounds like a Beavis & Butthead episode. Wait, that WAS a Beavis & Butthead ep. Butthead got stuck in a pipe, the fire department was called, and a news crew showed up. Good to hear there wasn't quite as much commotion when it happened to you.

disestablishingpuritanism said...

I'm claustrophobic, so I don't think I'd handle a cave very well. Love the new pic you have up with a John McCain holding his stick out (Levitra kicking in?) with Pandering Palin going down for a looksie. Well, we have something in common here I see. Winona State took out Augusta State for the men's national basketball championship this year. Augusta State was my alma mater and still miss it a little.

Thomas said...

PJ, I snuck that McCain-Palin pic onto my website a couple days ago. Brian noticed it yesterday. Good to hear it gave you a chuckle.

I wasn't aware WSU had won the men's B-ball championship and also miss my alma mater from time to time.

Melvin Udall said...

People have accused me of being scared of heights, I say that is so untrue. It's not the height I am scared of it's the thought of falling from it that gets me every time!!!

Timothy Smith said...

Hard to believe but crawling around in drain pipes seemed to be a sport in my neighborhood. Most were large pipes you could walk through hunched over.

I guess even the small ones are not that bad but I "did it wrong". You have to keep your arms out in front of you and inch along. I ended up with my arms at my sides and got stuck.

I was rescued by the other kids that began showing up that talked me out of it.

I have had problems with tight spaces every since.

Brian said...

I really hate enclosed spaces and feel trapped as well.

I couldn't even imagine getting stuck like that, that would really suck.

I'm not afraid of heights, but if there isn't proper support rails or anything, I don't want to go near the potential dropoff. Love rollercoasters though.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've been in spelunking in Pop's cave many times... it does get somewhat bigger but there are a lot of little tunnels you have to crawl through... The best part is the mud room! It's a little area of the cave filled with about a foot of mud!! VERY tiny crawlspace to get through though. So anyway, if you go again definatly go explore the cave!! It's amazing!!!

Livvy said...

ohhhh pop's cave. i love that place.