Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Caving Anyone?

Anyone want to go caving?

Last fall, several local letterboxers expressed interest in going together on a trip this spring into Devil’s Icebox Cave at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in Columbia. To accommodate this request, I made some inquiries and have been granted permission to lead such a trip in April, 2007 (see below for possible dates). (FYI, normally, groups are not allowed to sign up on trips—they have to follow individual registration procedures just like the rest of the public. If you are interested in going, read below for details.

About the Trip
First of all, let me stress that the Devil’s Icebox Cave is not for everyone. It is an all-day adventure-style caving program that involves 5.5 hours underground (including a half-mile canoe trip with occasional LOW ceilings) as well as special equipment* and being in good physical condition. (*You may be able to borrow some equipment—see end of blog for details). While no prior caving experience is required, participants must be at least 14 years old, able to carry a 65-pound canoe for a ¼ mile, and willing andprepared to walk, crawl, or climb over muddy, wet and uneven surfaces in a 56 degree cave. Caving in the Icebox is a very strenuous activity.

Other Requirements
The usual fee of $25 per person and the maximum of 10 participants also applies (sorry, I can’t waive the park fee). The park provides the canoes, lifejackets, paddles and helmets. Participants must provide three sources of light including at least one headlamp, shoes with excellent traction and ankle support, non-cotton clothing, and a lunch and water to take into the cave. For more details, please contact me or visit the state park website at Select “Places to Go,” choose Rock Bridge State Park, then select “Cave Trips” from the drop down menu near the top right..

Why Go Caving?
If you’ve never been caving and are wondering why anyone would choose to go on such a trip, here’s some info about the cave: The Devil’s Icebox Cave is a 6.25 mile cave system that currently ranks 7th longest in the state. It also ranks 2nd or 3rd in biodiversity within the entire state of Missouri (out of more than 6000 caves). Animals you may see on a trip include several bat species, salamanders, frogs, crayfish, monorail worms and the elusive pink planarian: a rare flatworm whose only known habitat is the stream of Devil’s Icebox cave. Besides animals, you get to see a number of pretty cave formations, and there is simply the challenge of navigating through such an immense, intense, and unique environment. Most of the tour (except for the canoe portion) is upright walking, but there are sections that involve some climbing and crawling. We’ll have some choice in which sections we visit, so if visiting the nooks and crannies appeal to you we can venture out of the main passage. If you like the higher, drier road, we can do that, too. As a certified cave tour guide, I promise not to get you lost and to keep you safe.

When is the trip?
The trip would be on a Friday night starting sometime in the late afternoon (5:30p.m.?) and lasting till about midnight. Possible dates are Friday, April 20 or Friday, 27. The cave is also subject to flooding so trips maybe cancelled due to rain. (FYI, the Spring LB Gathering will likely be Saturday May 5 or May 12). If you would like to go, please let me know, and LET ME KNOW WHICH DATE YOU PREFER, preferably BEFORE the end of February so that I have tome to make arrangements. You can reach me at

And before you ask, NO you can’t plant a letterbox in the cave, but YES, I will carve an event stamp.

*Borrowing equipment: A number of us have extra headlamps we can loan (at least enough for one per person). Also, some clothing and shoes may be borrowed and can certainly be purchased used for very low prices here in town.



ahistory said...

I was alredy considering the one in March but had a conflict, so I'd definately go in April. Either date would work for me, so I have no preference. Sounds like a fun adventure.

Sandi Staley said...

If you're wondering if you should try this, GO!! It's an incredible adventure, one you won't soon forget. Two tips: if you have to lay down in the canoe to get through a low-ceiling spot, take your backpack off first so you don't get stuck (don't ask me how I know this lol) and don't wear ski bibs as they will soak up water to the extent that you will bear a striking resemblence to the Michelin tire man (don't ask me about this one either). Have fun!!!

Anonymous said...

I am thinking about going but not sure of dates and such yet. I will offer up headlamps if anyone needs one. I have one to loan if I go and two if I don't.

Stephaine said...

I'm so in! As a Columbia native (basically), I've said for years I should go on a trip but have never gotten around to'll be great to go with folks I already know!

Stephaine said...

I love that my name is mispelled. Gonna have to work that little bug out. -OMGB

Clyde Bentley said...

Steph: Go to your Blogger dashboard and click on "Edit Profile." You can change both your display name and your real name.
The one caveat is that your settings apply to any blog you own or are part of. So if you use your trail name, that becomes your ID in all blogs.
One thing I should probably work on is that most of you did not put your email addresses (or at least you did not make them public) in your profile. That means I cannot write directly to you. Also, I don't have a list that matches user names to real names. (which is why I can't quite figure out what name you are registered under.) I'll work up a revision to the registration later.


OneMeanGreenBean said...

Figured it out! Thanks Clyde.

Robin said...

I don't know why but I am the "anonymous" one above. In case someone needs a headlight!