If someone were to ask me what the most insane thing I have ever done in my life, I wouldn't hesitate to answer. Getting knocked up and not thinking about HOW the baby was going to get OUT. Except, that's probably not really what they were looking for.
So, I've definitely got the next best answer: White Water Cave Tubing.
AKA: Black Water Rafting.
I've mentioned time and time again that The Ex and I went to New Zealand way back in 2005. It took some twisting and turning of his arm to get him to agree to go, but I like to think that at least he's now had that one awesome experience in his life. Even if he did sorta piss it away. I digress... the second day full day we were in the most amazing country on this planet, we found ourselves not far outside Auckland in a town called Waitomo. We were there for their "world-renowned" glow-worms that live in caves and basically light it up like the night's sky.
I had visited caves before, like Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I pictured a leisurely stroll along wooden boardwalks, maybe with a flash light and a guide. Except, somehow or another, we got peer pressured into one of the stupidest (yet, most badass) things I have ever done. We were outfited with wet suits and helmets with lights on them. They took us to an unassuming, slow-moving creek and had us sit in our inner tubes on the gravel to create a "monster" where we grabbed on to the tubes in front and behind us. Then, they had us walk to the end of a dock, put the tube against our ass, and jump backwards into the creek. I was pretty sure they were just fucking with us at that point. This was going to be a leisurely float through a cave to look up at some sticky, weird bugs. Right?
Their website calmly mentions you have to be at least 12 years old, of moderate fitness level, and mentions the words, "float serenely."
I distinctly remember about 5 to 10 minutes of serenity during that entire three hour adventure. That was after we had to basically rock climb inside a cave carrying a tube. Oh yeah, and that whole part where sometimes the water wasn't deep enough to actually be floating, so your butt was scraping the bottom of the cave floor and you'd have to stand up and walk the last few feet, only to have your ankle roll out from under you into some dark cave monster crevice that you couldn't see in the pitch blackness. Or the part where the water was too deep so you had to lay on your back, as flat as you could, in your tube, and walk your hands along the bottom of a giant rock-o-doom that was barely 4 inches from your nose.
And remember that backward jumping exercise from earlier? Apparently there was some validity to that. Because at one point, you came to a waterfall about 10 to 15 feet tall, where if you just went over it, you'd get sucked under at the bottom and beaten mercilessly against the rocks at the bottom. So... you have to stand at the edge, tube clenched to your buttcheeks, and jump backward as far as you can (but not too far, so you don't hit the cave wall on the far side) into total.complete.darkness. And just hope that you land successfully in deep enough water at the bottom. They conveniently don't tell you about any of this when you sign up to take this tour. Nor do they make you sign anything... because apparently in New Zealand, you can't sue anyone for your own stupidity. Ya know... like being stupid enough to white water raft in an inner tube through a cave.
Yet, just when you think you've had enough and are going to succumb to some cave fever and curl up and die in the cold water, your guide tells you to assume "the monster" and then tells you to flick off your helmet lights. And above you lies the most spectacular sight you are ever bound to see. Tons and tons of little glow worms and their sticky drippiness putting on an awe-inspiring show. There was silence. Our aching and battered bodies were just floating leisurely along in solitude and contentment. Supposedly, it's the only place in the world you can see this phenomenon. And I was right underneath it.
Would I ever do it again? Hell to the fuck NO! My body ached for days, The Ex got ringworm from it somehow, and I ended up having to throw away my favorite bathing suit because cave water scent does not wash out. But am I glad I had the guts to do it? For sure! I just know I never would have gone through with it, however, had I known what was ahead of me. It was a giant leap of faith I am happy I took. Just one I don't need to take ever again.
Now Puff will just have to convince me that white water rafting on a river in Tennessee won't be nearly as terrifying. And that, in fact, I might like it. He's been trying for 4 years. Maybe he'll win that battle in 2013. We shall just have to wait and see.
Try the Nantahala or Ocoee. I've done both too many times to count. And I love both of them.
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