Spelunking with Joel

Eric writes:

I was interested in caving for many years of my life. My favorite cave in Colorado was Fulford Cave near Eagle, Colorado. One of the best visits was when Joel was about eight years old. He was in Cub Scouts and was going to go caving with me for the first time. This was a public access cave that a person/group could spend from four to eight hours to see. We drove up to Fulford campground the day before and camped with friends that were going caving with us the following day.

Joel - Then and now

Joel – 1995 and 2007

The hike up to the cave entrance was about a mile up the mountain. Joel and I were getting more excited with each step. When we got to the entrance we all sat for a pre-caving photo. It was a busy cave that day. Some other group was climbing up the ladder, as we were ready to climb down. The entrance consists of a metal culvert dug into the ground at about a 50-degree angle with a metal ladder welded to the inside for climbing down into the cave. When it was our turn, Joel started down in front of me. As we went down the ladder, Joel started to have second thoughts and a little claustrophobia.

He said he wanted to go back up and not do the cave. I kept encouraging him to go on down to the bottom of the ladder because there were people above me on the way down. We had to go to the bottom before he could go back up. When we got to the bottom, I told Joel that he should let me show him around a little before he went back to the surface. We walked around in a couple large chambers for a few minutes as I explained about the rock formations. When I asked Joel if he still wanted to go back without doing the cave, he said he would like to continue for a while. The farther we went into the cave, the more fun we had. We spent the day in the cave. This was a wonderful bonding experience for Joel and me.

I will never forget sharing this wonderful time with him.

— Eric H