Today I went to a super nice cave. It is all vertical, very narrow at parts, and all rope work. I did it once before a year ago, I thought it was super hard, I almost lost it on the longest of the ropes. This time it went smoothly and we did really good time, I’m pleased with my own physical progress. It was just me and another guy who I will call Rambo because he is Rambo-like, in a good way. I really like doing caves with him because he loves it, and he is so full of energy and confidence, it’s always fun. I digress.
In the entrance of the cave there is a plaque in memory of two people who died there some years ago, there was a heavy rain and they drowned-froze going up the ropes, not on the same occasion I think. It is not uncommon to find memorials in the entrances of deep caves so I ignored it as usual. When we were pretty deep in the cave, I thought I heard someone talking. I thought, ohh no, not another group of people, it will be uncomfortable with two sets of ropes. At some point Rambo said, ‘what was that noise?’ someone’s talking!
Anyway, we went all the way down, past the big 90 ft pit, had a snack and a chat, and I started making my way up. I was feeling quite pleased with myself for being able to go up nimbly and with good speed. As I reached an anchor point, I really really heard people talking. With my actual ears, not the usual voices in my head. It was odd to find another group of cavers getting started late on Sunday evening, but not unheard of. I yelled at Rambo who was somewhere in a chamber beneath me, that there were people coming. He also heard them.
As we went up, there was no one.
a) another group of cavers came to the cave, saw our ropes and were discouraged, so they left. If this is the case it is very unlikely that we would have heard them, because the ropes start at the very beginning of the cave, and then you go down through a succession of vertical chambers, sometimes going a bit to the side, and at some point we passed some horizontal tunnels as well before descending some more. I don’t think sound would travel from the cave entrance to the big pit where we heard the voices.
b) Somehow sound from outside travels through the cave, and we heard some people passing by. Unlikely because it was a dark, drizzly Sunday evening on what is basically farm land. I doubt anyone would be around there, and I doubt that sound from outside would be able to go into the cave. On the time I was there before, there were a lot of people from the club outside, and we couldn’t hear them until we were back at the entrance pits.
c) Both Rambo and I heard something other.
I’m not sure what the explanation is, I have a feeling it is option c, before I heard the voices I felt a nagging in the back of my neck, dismissed it as usual cave jitters. I’m really happy that Rambo heard it too, feels reassuring that I wasn’t having a nervous break down without knowing it. Whatever the reason it got me thinking about the kids that died in the cave, in the deep pit. I tend to have an over active imagination, but still, they did die there.
The voices sounded like normal cavers going about their business, just enjoying the sport. If it was them, then I think they died a good death, doing something they loved, their passion. If their spirits are still there reliving the cave, they are doing it in the good moments before the flood hit (imagine waterfalls). I really hope that no one I know dies in a cave, myself included, but it would be worst to die after a long life of never taking risks (calculated risks of course). Of never knowing passion in one way or another.
Later I was joking with Rambo that the cave is haunted, he just said ‘don’t say that’, then he got serious and didn’t want to talk about it. He quickly changed the subject and we were soon laughing about something else.
The kids died too young, but it was a good death, may they lay their heads and find peace. Here a prayer that they may rest in peace.