Tim and Whitney have been adventuring together since their first date. Living in the mountains benefits a lifestyle centred around hiking, kayaking, and most recently, caving. Pushing boundaries, facing fears, and finding patience are all a part of their journey through both life and the cave. Keep reading to see how the adventure-lovers fared.
The most challenging part of the day for me was the rappel. I’ve done some outdoor climbing before (and when I say some, I mean once or twice) and had to rappel. I thought that would prepare me for doing it in a cave. Tim being the more experienced caver than I (again once or twice), he went first. When Sarah, our guide, turned to me and asked if I was ready, I must have been as white as a ghost and replied: “not at all.” But I wasn’t about to be the one holding up the entire group, so I mustered my courage and went on my way.
I’ve recently learned that if you give me something to focus on while I’m internally (and probably externally) freaking out, I get distracted. And that’s what happened, I was so focused on keeping my rope lined up that I was at the bottom before I knew it and Tim was there to unclip me. Much less scary than I thought. Sarah also reassured me that I was on a backup line, so if I happened so slip or lose my footing, she’d catch me.
By this time, another caver, Michelle and I had bonded over our fear. From that point on, we ended up leading the group right behind our guide Sarah. Cheering each other on through the laundry chute and our group-voted, all-lights-out crawl, we made it through and were laughing at ourselves by the end.
I was most surprised by my ability to trust the system. If you ask anyone I know, I’m always the first person to ask “why,” but the guides are so confident and passionate about what they do, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it with them. Sarah always asked what we were comfortable with and for the most part there was an alternate route if you felt like you’d pushed your boundaries too far. To my surprise, I almost always took the more difficult route. After all, I also don’t like to feel like I can’t do something.
My favourite part of the tour was when we all decided to turn our headlamps out. The lamps are bright enough to light up that area of the cave you’re in, but when the entire group turns them out, you’re in complete darkness.
Following Sarah’s instruction, we followed one-by-one, calling out protruding rocks, slight turns, and even when to flip from your knees to your bum to descend. When we turned our lamps back on, I couldn’t believe the distance we had travelled and where we ended up - I won’t tell you where and ruin the surprise though.
It was also neat to see my partner in his element. As a geologist, he and Sarah, who also just happens to be a geo, were geeking out over rock formations and fossil finds. I signed up for an adventure and didn’t realize that I’d be learning so much about how the Rocky Mountains, and the cave specifically, were formed. It was pretty neat!
For sure! Tim and I spent our first date hiking Grotto, which actually happens to be the mountain that the cave is in. It was serendipitous that we got to share this experience together as well.
Tim spends his summers prospecting uncharted territory in the north, so hiking mountains with me doesn’t seem too far-fetched. Me on the other hand, I’m pushing myself more and more every day. From a woman who had never hiked a day in her life to completing backcountry trips and now the cave, I’m proud of myself for continually looking for new ways to grow and challenge myself.
Absolutely! I can’t be sure that Tim will have the same answer though…
It was such a cool experience to share together. It has definitely taught us more about each other when we’re (but really me) pushed to face our fears. I didn’t realize going in how I’d react to things like the rappel and having someone supportive and patient by your side certainly helped.
Of course, I need to have the last word.
As someone who was so confident going in, it was refreshing to be checked by my emotions. I was so sure that I would whip through the cave without pause but learning that not everything goes to plan and sometimes we are surprised by our fears was all a part of the process. Coming out the exit, which just also happens to be the entrance, felt full circle. Literally and metaphorically. I forgot all of my moments of doubt and felt so accomplished. I can’t wait for our next adventure together!