I got to explore the planet in a new way yesterday, wandering down into the ice caves and old mines near Hasbrouck Park in Kingston, New York. Historically the area is known for producing natural cement, and these caves were dug out a fair bit back in the day. The climbing down was scarier than climbing back up, and it was intense to experience the subterranean chill. There are a number of flooded old mine shafts that are best to avoid (story has it that some divers have checked them out and never returned), and ice formations that are pretty impressive for June.
Now I’m told that I wasn’t in any real caves, but I don’t mind. No matter what we accomplish in life, we will always find a friend or acquaintance that will minimize it for us and try to make us believe it’s not impressive enough. Depending on how well I know the person, I’ll do anything from smile and nod while ignoring them to telling them that life isn’t a contest and that if it were I would win because I get extra points for getting over myself. Oneupsmanship is absolutely the most irritating human quality, but I digress.
I am glad I went under the ground. I’m not sure I would do it again, but it’s an experience worth having. I guess if I were really into caving and spelunking the word Gaiaped wouldn’t make as much sense – earth-walker might mean going underground, but it sounds like a stretch to me. What I enjoyed most was the feeling that I was in very real danger if I made a mistake. Putting the natural world into perspective means recognizing that nature can kill you.