14 October 2011

Follow the leader

Growing up comes with responsibility. I’ve almost been caving for two years now, and things have changed in that time. Instead of venturing into new territory every week, wide-eyed and overwhelmed, safely following behind someone more experienced, I have now slowly become that more experienced person. And that experience was called upon.

Rick would do one of his extremely muddy trips again, and Dave would come along. I'd done it before, so I didn't have priority. But that trip would only cater for a handful, and the rest of the club needed a trip too. And that trip needed to be lead… I couldn’t really think of someone to lead it other than myself. When the day came it turned out Rupert came along, and he knows the way, but he already leads quite a lot and I didn’t want to ask. So I took it upon myself.

The logistics were daunting. I would drive south to pick up Rupert, drive to Dave to pick up helmets, pick up a following car of a caver who didn’t know the way, and then drive north to the parking spot. There we gathered in few cars as near the entrance there was little parking space, and then we walked the last bit. And then we were underground! And immediately we had accidentally split up. Rupert had the veterans and I had the newbies. And they were good newbies! I just started scurrying through all nooks and crannies of the mine, which I knew well enough, and they happily followed; no balance was too precarious, and no scramble too technical for them. We had fun! And after a while we bumped into the others as well.

Me and my protégés

They're not afraid of anything!

Ceci n’est pas un puddle. Seriously!

We did a bit more scurrying all together, and then it was already time to go back to the cars. I unfortunately managed to dislodge my exhaust while driving with three passengers on a way too bumpy road, but it wasn’t so bad I couldn’t get home. And Rupert was so kind as to hitch a ride, helmets and all, back with someone who lived much closer to him than I do, so I could just skip the pub, and go back home. I need my sleep! And in spite of also ripping the rear view mirror from the windscreen on the way back I got home safely before 11. A good night caving, ending at a pleasantly civilised hour!

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