Last Sunday, a group of EMU students and the outdoor ministry adviser Lester Zook embarked on an adventure coordinated by EMU Explore in the caves of West Virginia. A total of ten students participated in the trip and were led by Junior and Outdoor Ministries Major Chad Reinford.
The trip to the cave site, which is in Franklin, West Virginia, involves approximately an hour of driving up “winding roads in the mountains,” according to First-Year Chelsea Harshbarger.
The temperature on the day of the trip averaged around 20 degrees, and one of the highlights of caving was enjoying the warmth of the caverns. Due to the subterranean climate, the caves maintain an average temperature of between 50 and 60 degrees year round.
To make the descent into the caves, students were required to strap on helmets and head lamps. Harshbarger noted that “You’d be surprised how often you hit your head and are glad you had a helmet.”
Harshbarger, who enjoyed participating in the trip, also said that “They [caves] are nature’s work of art and are fun to explore. I think everyone should go at least once, and make sure to wear old clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Boots are a great idea, not so much tennis shoes.”
Reinford said about caving, “I have been to the cave so many times, I love it all. The appeal of caving to me is getting to see the foundations of the earth [and] seeing rocks that have not seen sunlight for thousands of years. It’s awesome.”
The participants on the trip rep- resented a variety of EMU students, ranging from First-Years to Seniors with a sampling of majors throughout, and part of what makes caving so much fun is the accessibility to any student.
When Harshbarger was asked about the best part of the caving experience, she said, “I don’t mind getting a bit dirty to have a good time. Caving is fun because you have different obstacles like climbing up, down or crawling.”
The students who participated in the trip seemed to have had a grand time and would be happy to repeat the experience.
Reinford said, “I would recommend any outdoor experience to other students; with proper leadership and planning, which EMU Explore offers assistance with, there is nowhere they should not go.”