Tom - Dirty

Tom Hagen, Owner Operator Rushmore Cave

In my last blog I discussed some of the less fun aspects to exploring caves, or caving. I mentioned the mud, the tight crawls and the physical pounding. After laying out good reasons not to cave I promised an answer to the question, “Why do you cave?”
Carter, a good friend and fellow caver always said, “We cave because we know how good it is going to feel when we stop.”  Obviously, this answer is nonsense.  I feel like he gave that answer because it is hard to explain the real reasons for caving.
Caving can go from easy and fun to boring, to physically brutal, to terrifying, then to the point of extreme exhilaration. All of this in just a matter of minutes.  Throw in the constant feeling of adventure and exploration and the possibility that you may find yourself in a room that not one person in the history of mankind has ever been in or seen and caving can quickly go from a casual activity to an obsession.
Can you imagine finding a small hole? I mean a really small hole. You spend some time digging to make it big enough to see into but your light only reveals darkness. You make it bigger yet until your head fits in but you still can’t see.  Finally you open the hole until it is large enough, or almost large enough, to fit into.  Driven by your curiosity you force yourself into the hole and you find……a beautiful room filled with delicate formations, or the beginning of a maze of passages that spreads out for hundreds of miles, or maybe you only find a small rocky room, or worse yet an even smaller hole.

There is only one way to find these things and to satisfy that curiosity.
Grab your gear and lets go caving.

Delicate formations in Lechuguilla

Delicate formations in Lechuguilla

A tight hole located in the back of Rushmore Cave

A tight hole in Rushmore Cave

Map of Wind Cave tour routes and additional cave passages

Wind Cave tour routes and passages