We couldn't wait to have our lava river cave experience.
There is only one way in and out of the mile long tunneling cave. This means that the ones entering the cave are narrowly passing by the ones exiting in some places.
Outside the cave temps reached a high of 95 and inside the cave, more like 45. When we entered that darkness and natural air conditioning was welcomed eagerly.
We found ourselves in a flat clearing, just the 7 of us. The mouth of the cave was far behind us. We decided to see what total darkness looked like and turned off our lights. It was not even 10 seconds before whimpering began and the lights came back on.
Z was silent for the blackout. When the lights came back on his eyes were as wide as I'd ever seen them and his mouth was open too. He then simply turned quietly and start back the way we came. He didn't seem to care if anyone else would be joining him. He would deal with us and our deep hole craziness no more. Peace.
After that, Z demanded to be carried. He'd show us his version of crazy if Ryan tried to put him down. This arrangement didn't last long.
It was decided that Ryan and the little ones would turn back. The bigs and I would soldier on. Aside from Z, the 'little ones' were quite insulted by this suggestion. They were about to show us their version of crazy if we didn't cease and desist. We decided that if they were up for the challenge, so be it.
Ryan and Z turned toward the sun. The remaining 4 and I went deeper still. All was well and good, at first. Riley kept commenting on how interesting this cave was. Cave joy abounded. Until it didn't. Until Riley and Tyler hit a wall in their endurance and ability to deal with cold.
The bigs and I were a mile deep in a cave with two boys who full on lost it. All sense of reason had already escaped the depths of the cold damp cave. There was wailing, crying, and the screaming of laments.
Other explores were offering them sympathy and me shame. Yes, mommy shaming/guilt can be felt even in deep dark freezing caves.
I kept repeating a couple of phrases to my guys.
1. You can do hard things.
2. Focus on your steps.
3. Keep heading toward the sun. We can't see it yet, but it's there.
Also, 4. There will be a lollipop at the end of this.
We made it to an important milestone in our cave escape, the railing. This was an important piece of equipment because, steepish slippery rocks. I was right behind Tyler telling him to use the rail. He needed the rail. We all needed the rail. He refused the rail. He wanted help but help in the form of cold metal wasn't welcome in his world. Cold was his enemy. He fell. Screaming ensued, well more screaming.
I could tell by his cry that he was uninjured but super POed. We made one more turn and could finally see the light. He just kept yelling and yelling.
Darkness and cool air are so welcome when you are coming out of 95 degree temps. The people coming into the cave were so happy but a child screaming "I hate caves" and "I never want to go into a cave again" into the echoey hollows, can dampen cave joy a little (a lot). We were running low on joy just then, so we clearly had none to spare.
When we finally stepped into the sun, I was all high fives and congratulations. We did it!
I expected happy. My boys were still stuck in the cave. Still crying. Still complaining. Still so very upset. Standing in the sun as though they were still in the cave.
You did it. You made it. Cave time is over. You're past the hard part. Enjoy this. They did not.
I can see I'm like my boys. Cave dwelling.
Some seasons are hard. Hard, but I can do hard things. I made it through, we made it through, one step at a time headed in the right direction. Lollipops all around.
But truthfully, I still complain about my cave time instead of enjoying the sun. I can stand outside the cave but still live inside it.
My guys eventually did all the things they screamed they never would again while in the cave. We went swimming again. They are very willing to have ice cream again. All the things that sound horrible to think of or impossible in a cold dark cave.
Today we explore the Lava Butte. We've been to the depths and now we will explore the heights.
We would love to make a commemorative T-shirt for this experience: I lava your butte. Bend, Or
Our maturity is still in the depths, apparently.
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