Ever feel like you are swimming in Jell-O?

That’s how I felt all of last week! That weekend, my husband and a friend of ours drove to Tennessee to pick up a lot of old trash from a cave site and do some caving. Needless to say, coming back into Columbia at 2 AM seriously wrecked my plans for a restful and non-stressful week.

Due to the holiday today, I am able to sit and write THREE (yes, you heard me right) blog posts for this week. Today’s post is not about music therapy, but about hobbies and things you do for enjoyment. As you might have guessed from the last paragraph, a new hobby of mine is caving!

I’ve found that, similar to music therapy, when I tell people that I enjoy caving, I get a lot of perplexed looks. This happened this past Wednesday at the Jewish Day School with my 4/5th grade class and since we had some extra time, I thought I would explain it to them.

Many people, when I mention caving, think of places like Ruby Falls, and other Commercial Caves that come complete with a tour guide, lighted trails, operating hours, and gift shops. While these types of caves are a fantastic option for families and those who just want to experience being underground and see some cool geologic formations, that’s not the type of caving I’ve found myself enjoying.

Caving, or Spelunking in the UK (apparently it’s a “dirty” term for cavers in the US) is the exploration of wild cave systems. There are lots of different types of caves: some you can walk into standing upright, some you have to crawl through a small entrance until the cave opens up (or not), and some that appear as just a hole in the ground from the surface and require the caver to rappel down into. I myself am only on cave number 5, so I do not count myself as an expert whatsoever!

My husband has been caving for the past year and a half, and, being in much better physical shape than I am, has undertaken some pretty impressive caves (15 hours in Ellison’s!) and some pretty impressive rappels and climbs (600 ft anyone?). I have a long way to go before I am at his level, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my 80 ft and 180 ft rappel/climbs I have done thus far.

As I’m sure you may have though reading about rappelling and climbing, caving can be very dangerous. Rappelling in and of itself requires attention to and care of your equipment and rope. Caving requires a knowledge of the cave you are entering (or the presence of someone who does), proper protective gear (helmet, lights, kneepads, warm clothing), and a good awareness of your surroundings. When caving, you are cut off from cell phone signals. Often time even on the surface cell signal is hard to find because of the remoteness of many areas. Help can often be far away, so never go caving alone and always let someone know where you are.

The National Speleological Society has links to caving clubs (or grottos) all over the country. So if this sounds of interest to you, find a group and go on a beginners trip!

What are some of your hobbies? Do you do anything off the beaten path?