Some folks like to call it spelunking, the British call it potholing, but I simply call it caving. And I love it! The world is filled with spectacular, easy-to-access caves that draw millions of eager visitors each year — like the Big Room at Carlsbad or the endless passages at Mammoth Cave. But visiting one of these caves isn't the same as caving.
Caving means getting dirty, squeezing through holes or rappelling down cliffs to reach secluded spots that aren't accessible by concrete steps and handrails. By veering off the beaten path — and carrying the right equipment — we can enjoy treasures seldom seen.
As a believer and an adventurer, I expect evidence of the Creator everywhere I look. Job observed, "Speak to the earth, and it will teach you ... that the hand of the Lord has done this" (Job 12:8–9). Every cave needle, every gypsum flower speaks of God’s awesome handiwork.
Extreme Caving at Cumberland Caverns
I recently had the opportunity to explore Cumberland Caverns in Tennessee while filming Extreme Caving. It turned out to be just that. We crawled on our stomachs through tight passages too low for us to get on our knees. The next thing we knew, the passage would open into rooms over 50 feet (15 m) high, with some of the most spectacular formations I've ever seen.
To get to some rooms, we had to scramble over fields of slippery rocks and boulders called breakdown. Breakdown happens after water, which originally filled the deep cave, drains away. Without water pressure to hold the rocks in place, they begin falling to form a field of rocks.
At times, I felt like I was traveling to the center of the earth. Our guide, Robby Black, told us at one point that we were more than two miles (3 km) inside the mountain, and the surface was more than 400 feet (122 m) overhead.
Few people have ever seen some parts we experienced. We even filmed portions never before captured on video. (And that's saying something, since this cave was the location for a sci-fi thriller, What Waits Below!)
What Forces Carved These Wonders?
As I struggled through these twists and turns, I had to wonder what massive forces laid down these rock layers and then dissolved them away. Billions of tons of rock, all gone.