Thursday, November 27, 2008

In the dark... On rope...

So Heather has been telling me to contribute to our blog and suggested that I do a little write-up of a couple of recent caving and rappelling events.

Once in awhile, as time permits (in actuality - rarely) I'm a caver. I got started with a buddy in 1994 and caved actively until 2000 when we moved to Tennessee. When we moved back to Arkansas I ran into a few cavers and my interest was rekindled. I'm a member of the Boston Mountain Grotto of the National Speleological Society. Our grotto caves pretty actively, and I go when I can. This fall, I took advantage of a grotto training course in single-rope techniques and vertical caving (NSS Basic Vertical). It gets taught on demand every so often, so I couldn't pass up the chance. The organized caving world likes to have folks certified in vertical techniques before you join a trip with any vertical passage.

In October, I went to southern Missouri with our grotto and explored a couple of caves there. The main event for the weekend was a cave with 3 vertical pitches ranging from 15 to ~30 feet. Not exactly dizzying heights, but fun. Below is a picture of me waiting to head up the rope on the first pitch. You'll notice my caving fashion sense. Yes... Those are tights. Function before fashion folks - those tights dry fast, stay warm, and allow a grizzly bear-sized caver like me to avoid getting hung up.

A couple of weekends ago, my Basic Vertical class did our qualifying rappel. The NSS requires a rappel of at least 200 feet in order to finish the course. We headed to Hemmed-in-Hollow on the Buffalo National River. This is one of my favorite places to hike to. I've stood at the base of the falls and wondered what it would be like to rappel off the top - this was my chance. We rigged 2 main lines at 235 and 215 feet respectively. Below are a couple of pictures of me heading over the edge and in mid-descent. It was amazing.

In adoption news - there's no news. Heather has been doing what I call fuzzy math: she's tracking our progress up the waiting list based on where we began and monthly totals of referrals. We figure we're in the top 10, possibly top 5. We're hoping to get a referral call around Christmas or at the new year. Until then, we wait. I'm looking forward to getting our little one here and showing them the wonders of the outdoors!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Indian Creek Hike

We recently took advantage of our beautiful Fall weather and went for a hike through Indian Creek. We began at Kyle's Landing on the Buffalo and followed a trail till we came to a small trickle of a waterfall and Arkansas Cave, which is closed year-round due to usage by endangered bat populations. The hike was through some rugged but gorgeous landscapes. Jason climbed up the bluff a little further than I did...just to explore. Our goal was to make it to the Eye of the Needle, but since we were running out of daylight that will have to wait for a return trip.

I've attached some pictures of myself and Jason on the hike.
I also included one of the sunlight coming through the turning leaves and one of the swans who make Boxley their home. Enjoy...