Long Horn Caverns: Wild+ Caves

Do you struggle trying to explain your love of the outdoors to friends and family? Do you feel them slipping away while answering questions regarding mileage, showers, and the always ominous “how do you poop in the woods?” At this moment, with a creepy look in your eye, whisper, “how do you poop on a toilet?” Come on people; it’s not like deviant bears are waiting for you to drop trou!

caving

When Lauren and I got married, she’d never slept in a tent, paddled a kayak, hiked, rode a bike off-road, or read a map. We started slow. Gradually, “glamping” turned to camping and camping to backpacking. With each experience, she saw nature differently and eventually she fell in love. These days, she can set up camp and crochet a beanie before the average “hipster guy” can put tent-pole A into slot B. Now a proficient hiker and paddler, our next trip was an introduction to caving.Long Horn Cavern

Deep within the cool interior of Longhorn Caverns, headlamps illuminated our path in an otherwise dark environment. I watched in awe as Lauren gracefully lifted her small frame, sliding through tight muddy tracks I couldn’t fit through. Never had I seen someone take to caving with such beauty. I’ve had the privilege of exploring Mammoth Cave, Carlsbad, Blanchard Springs, and Vantului Cave, to name a few. Longhorn Caverns, although beautiful, doesn’t require rope work or advanced technique. Thus, the perfect starter cave. Of course, I wanted to repel or stove-pipe climb, but this trip was for Lauren.caving

With each chamber I watched as her smile widened. She had taken to caving like Oprah to a box of donuts. Tiny bats hung from the ceiling of our next crag. I assumed she would be afraid, instead she posed for pictures with what she dubbed “cute little furry chicken nuggets.” Hours later, emerging to the bright Texas sun, she had fallen in love with another aspect of our beautiful planet.bat

So, how do you convince your friends and family to experience nature in a way that could change their lives? Without using a Bill Cosby Martini and a wheel barrow, it’s best to be honest. Hygiene suffers in the back country. Being an “outdoors nut” doesn’t imply you look like an REI commercial filled with fitness models dawning the latest and greatest attire and equipment. Not having electricity and showers sucks! But, it’s the price we pay to experience nature in an authentic “WOW” way.
At first, lower your expectations: less miles, less risk, a bit more comfort. You may not reach that campsite you dreamed of. But if you love someone, you meet them where they are and encourage them. In the same way, we sacrifice comfort to embrace nature. So we must sacrifice some of our goals to introduce the ones we love to nature.

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18 thoughts on “Long Horn Caverns: Wild+ Caves

  • Beautiful photos! I too tried spelunking for the first time at 20 years old. Loved it immediately! I have also had most of my friends look at me like I’m from another dimension when I talk about camping in the woods for days. Now that I’m in my 50s I don’t camp in a tent on the ground…I ache too much afterwards. But I still get out in nature every chance I get. My husband and I just bought a tent that fits over the back of the pickup bed with a foam mattress. Can’t wait to try it out!

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    • We have a camper van so don’t think we always sleep on the ground. Hope you have a wonderful adventure trying out your new tent. May your trail run long, the skies be blue, and the birds sing of “no worries”.

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  • Great post. You’re exactly right, it’s not about pushing someone way out of their comfort zone just nudging them a little and letting the love of nature naturally take hold.

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  • Curt, that was one of your best posts of all time! 🙂 You made me laugh at line opener, and made me wonder had you seen me at my own family lunch, trying to explain to 3 sisters and my parents exactly why it is that I am going on a solo hike for 3 days into remote country. These days I don’t say much when asked about hiking, as the questions are more likely spoken out of polite conversation, and within 5 minutes we are somehow talking again about life in the fast lane again (yawn…).

    But anyway, Lauren is LUCKY to have such a considerate partner, and your sentiments on how to introduce her gradually to the outdoorsy stuff should help make you a keeper! And by the way, I love Lauren already! When is she going to start a blog?

    Thanks for an awesome post, and more cute pics of Lauren 🙂

    Cheers, Leah 🙂

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    • Leah, I’m looking forward to reading about your next hike. As for Lauren and blogging she is planning on running a few post through this blog site. Sort of a her view of things.
      Hope the weather is great on your next hike, and that you see and learn what your heart needs.

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  • Great post, Curt. I love caves but have never been in deep ones. There aren’t many about near here. I did walk the Caves’ Circuit at a national park recently which was wonderful and I do have a “secret” small cave I like to escape to at a reserve near my home. I loved the “cute little furry chicken nuggets”! How wonderful that you two can share these experiences together. I’ve found with friends and relatives that usually it’s best not to make a trip too daunting at first. As you say, go gradually. With my kids they never knew anything different though as they were thrown into “roughing it” it from babies really. It took them a while to realise that it wasn’t regarded as a “normal’ upbringing. Heheh. Compromise is good. A caravan park instead of a tent to begin with so people can have showers at the end of a long hike and then move on to something a bit more smelly another time. 😉

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    • I’m so jealous that you have a cave close to you, we live in the swamp= no caves. Totally agree. Look forward to reading your next post. I would love to read about how you and your kids adventured when they were younger.

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