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Venturing into the Great Muddy Below!

Wilderness Kids students set off on a great caving expedition in October.

From left, 7th grader Bella, and 8th graders Paris, Juan, Hadram, Sandra and Jenny show off the mud they collected during their 3 1/2 hours exploring the caves of West Virginia.

Have you ever wondered what the world beneath our feet looks like? It never occurred to our students that while we explore mountains and rocks above ground, we don't often explore the caves and rocks below ground; but what if we did?

On October 7, led by our amazing guides, Miles and Tim, six students crawled, climbed, and shimmied their way through tunnels in Silers Cave. Once we got to the “entrance”, a hole in the ground where we would use a 6 foot ladder to lower into the cave, our students realized what they were really getting into. After initially second guessing what we were about to do, we took a deep breath, hopped down, and on our wild adventure.

Some of our students thought the idea of entering this hole in the ground was crazy. What would you think? Sandra contemplates the idea...and then heads on down!

We spent about 3.5 hours exploring different rooms, learning about the geology of West Virginia, and looking for actively forming stalagmites and stalactites. As we emerged back into ground level our students had a new found confidence and were proud of their ability to work together and support each other through tough passages. It was a great day of teamwork, appreciation of nature, and adventure. Perhaps a few future cavers were created that day!

Clockwise from top left: Juan, Hadram, and Paris look over the plan for the day with the leader of our underground expedition, Miles; Jenny peaces out in the Great Below; Juan floats above the passageway, headlight shining; Paris rests a moment deep in the cave; Jenny re-emerges to the sunshine, triumphant; Mud, mud, mud everywhere and especially on our shoes!

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