The floor of the cave began to slope as the water sounds increased. I was headed downward, not steeply, but definitely down. The floor was quite moist and had changed to solid, slick rock, coated with mineral deposits and something that looked like algae. After a few slips, I slowed. I don't know how far I had descended but all was without rope. The going was tricky but still safe.
I had passed through narrow passages, to wide areas and some places I had to go to my knees again. The allure of the cave had me in its grip...and the sound of the water beckoned me. I had a sense of false security with my dogs and my flashlights. I was invincible! I was an explorer is what appeared to be a virgin cave.
The water came into view around the next turn. Wonderfully clear, rushing, fresh, cave spring water! I knelt, cupping my hand to taste the water, ah, sweet and clean. I refilled my water bottle, taking in the beauty around me and sat for a moment to rest. The dogs lapped the water and, following my lead, they rested.
As far the light could reach, there was water, a wide stream, crystal clear and moving swiftly into the darkness of the cave. Maybe this was the source of our valley of springs! Maybe this cavern ran under the entire farm, bubbling up when it was close to the surface. The stalagmites weren't as plentiful here because of moving water.
Testing the darkness, I turned off my light. The sounds enveloped me. The running water, the panting of the dogs, the creaking of the floor boards (just testing you!) seemed to echo. I can say, I truly did not know the dark until that moment.
The dogs moved close to me and we just sat, I scratched and rubbed them and when I spoke, good boys, they whined their thank yous.
Okay, time to go, boys, as I turned on my light...damn! I shook it, I tested the button, I shook it again but it was dead as a door nail. No problem, I reached in my bag and pulled my second light out, pushed the button...and light filled the area.
I stood, looked left, looked right, which way to go? Upstream, downstream or back the way I came? I had no idea of the time, my watch lay in my drop spot at the house, even my camera had no time set on it. Weighing all possibilities, probabilities, gauging my distance and time as best I could, I then made a brilliant decision...to follow the dogs!
Okay, boys, lead on.
They headed down stream. Slanted, rocky, slick, narrow edges bordered the stream. As the water narrowed and turned, it deepened, the narrow banks disappeared and we walked in the cold cave water. I am still taking photos every few feet and my camera starts flashing, low battery!!! So much for that light, it joined my worthless flashlight in my canvas bag.
Oh, the wonders I saw! The ceiling dripped with rock icicles and the walls reflected and multiplied the light. There was no time, just me and the dogs, the water, and the light.
I should have been watching my feet instead of over head, I stumbled, fell, and dropped my light. The light bobbed as it floated down the stream, still lighting its way...