SATURDAY: So Saturday we met at the campus at around 1:30pm. Got loaded up and away we went. I thought we were going to Cloudland Canyon State Park but we ended up going to DeSoto State Park, just outside of Fort Payne Alabama. Uh, surprise! XD It was pretty great. We didn't really spend very much time in the actual park; we set up our camping gear and buckled down pretty early.
GUYS. I DON'T LIKE CAMPING. XD Granted, it was cold and the equipment I was using wasn't great? But dang, it was so cold and my tent mate, while a friend, is someone who gets on my nerves aaaahhh so yeah, that was a struggle.
We woke up pretty early the next day, around 6:30am. Got ready, ate, and then drove about 40 miles out to meet our cave guide. He was really cool and extremely knowledgeable!
CAVING IS INTENSE. We went to Tumbling Rock and it was so amazing. Here's some photos, not from my group (these photos are from 2008-ish) but not much has changed. I'm really surprised at how well I did considering how honestly risky this activity is.
It was pitch black except for our headlamps, it was so quiet except for our voices and for the trickling of water, and there were so many opportunities for someone to get hurt. For example, at one point we were walking on a slope and it was visibly wet so we knew it was slick. We had to walk across the slope to the other side but running parallel to the slope was a pit. Just a big, black, hole in the ground. We couldn't tell just how deep it was (because, obviously, the slope of the ground kept us from getting to close). And another example, we were climbing upwards (and by climbing, I mean we were basically rock climbing, except without harnesses) and running parallel to that was a pit of rocks. Just one slip and down you go! It was so intense and I'm so proud of my body for making it through and so proud of my mental state for not buckling. And I mean! I was completely fine with the darkness and the heights and the occasionally cramped spaces? My professor said I was like a billy goat in there, hahaha, and that she really respected my philosophy of making a choice and then acting on it instead of worrying about all the ways it could go wrong. Which...as a Professional Worrier (tm) I'm really proud of that compliment. XD
HOWEVER. My friend who pestered me into going? She was a wreck. Apparently she didn't know that caves had a lot of height differences and holes and stuff? And she's apparently deathly terrified of heights, to the point that even standing on a step stool is just Too Much? Anyway, whenever she was nervous (which was often) she sang, in this high pitched, wavery voice "don't look down, don't look down, you're alright, you're alright". Which aaaaahhhh, was making me so damn anxious and frustrated. It was AWFUL. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to freak her out anymore but that damn song made me so nervous. Also, I had to act as mediator between her and the rest of the group? Like, when she needed a break, she would tell me instead of addressing the group as a whole, so I ended up needing to be the one to address the group.
I sound like an incredibly unsympathetic person, I know, but dang. Please research activities and make sure they're not going to traumatize you before partaking! That seems like a reasonable thing to ask for. She made it all the way through though, so that's definitely something to proud of.
Also, this morning when professor and I were talking about the trip, she said there was something very performative about my friend's actions, like her "phobia" only popped up when no one was paying attention to her. I can definitely see that. It really goes along with her personality tbh. She's very clingy and needy and overly sensitive.
...tbh I'm not entirely sure why we're friends? We just kinda end up together, haha.
Anyway, I made friends with the other members of the group and we all added each other on snapchat so that's good. :3
Anyway, final opinion is that camping is bad (at least during winter) and caving is good (especially if you go with the right people!).
TODAY I only managed to go to one class (English) and I am so sore, particularly my legs. But I finally did my taxes so that's something I guess. XD
And hey, my paid time on DW expired. Booooooo.