"These caves are wild, and natural." I have said these same words to thousands of people. People from near and far. Many people who visit Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park have never been underground before and have no clue what to expect. Although, even people who have been into many show caves in the United States may have no clue what to expect. They are used to enormous chambers with lamps lining the walls and paved walkways with hand railings that meander through the cave. Our caves are not like that in the slightest.
I always try my best to paint a picture for the clients of what is in store before a tour departs. I'll even go as far as to mime the "Cave Yoga Moves" that they may find themselves doing in the caves. But after 7 years of guiding people through these caves, I have realized that no matter how hard I try to frontload things and put the experience into words, people will exit the caves saying "Wow! That was not what I expected!"
It makes me smile every time I hear that. I can remember my first time exploring these caves. As you navigate through the obstacles of a cave, you feel that you are earning the beautiful subterranean sights as you discover them. You feel a real connection to the cave and to our marvelous planet.
We humans are perfectly built to propel ourselves through any environment, but the skills we tap into to maneuver through nature's wildest obstacles are far less practiced these days. However, in the caves, those animal instincts are awakened. With each step, there is a little bit of problem solving involved with determining the best way to safely perform the required move. As you string the moves together you find yourself "in the zone" and it's exhilarating.
Children on my cave tours frequently mutter to themselves "How do I do this?" or "Now What?" and I resist the urge to over coach them, because I have learned the value of allowing them to discover the inner strength they possess to accomplish their task. People often underestimate what they are capable of. At Horne Lake Caves, we help people to leave proud of themselves for succeeding in living through a true adventure. We frequently hear people say "I never would have thought that I could do that! I don't think I would have done that if I didn't have a guide with me..."
I have taken people of all ages, shapes and sizes through the caves at Horne Lake and I have learned not to underestimate people. To be brave, first you must be afraid. Some of my favorite clients are the ones who are nervous about leaving their comfort zones. Throughout a tour I can observe personal growth happening which, in some cases, is quite profound. I have witnessed many powerful moments as people confront their fears and overcome them. As long as determination is there, ordinary people can accomplish amazing things. I have even taken a blind couple through one of our caves...they did incredibly well! So, I invite anyone reading this to come and challenge yourself with a true caving adventure. It's an experience you will always cherish.
This is a guest article by Myles Fullmer. Myles is the Lead Guide at Horne Lake Caves
on Vancouver Island.
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