Band-Aids and medical tape hung loosely from my fingertips. My nails ached from tugging at the seven millimeters of neoprene rubber, which clung to my sweating skin. Wisps of hair peeked from beneath my hood as I pulled at the collar to allow a few gulps of air to enter my lungs. With barely bending arms and legs, I waddled to the back of the family van, and using whatever limited flexibility I had over my movements, I twisted and contorted my body into the Trans-Pac harness. After I secured all straps, reels, lights, and clips, I rolled off the bumper of the van supporting all 110 pounds of equipment on my back. Slowly, I managed to stumble towards the spring’s entrance, grabbing my mask and fins on the way. Before reaching the bottom step, I filled my wings with air and made all final preparations. Finally, with the grace and agility of a floundering beached whale, I allowed myself to fall into the icy water.
My head hurts, my fleece stinks and I don't love Exley,
It's that kind of mornin'
Really was that kind of night
Trying to tell myself that my finning is improvin'
And if I don't drown by Thursday, I'll be diving Friday night
With tanks assembled ready still
The mind of cavers, iron willed
The morn’s confusion slowly dies
Replaced by eagerness relied
Upon the hope that they just might
Return again into the light
Anticipation building slow
Ready for the morning’s go
At learning secrets underneath
The caves imposing limestone teeth
Without the help of maps or signs
The cave decides who will survive
And who returns unto the sun
Though risking death is half the fun
Life’s brave beacon stood so fine,
Characterized by golden line.
Solemn Reaper stood as guard,
O’er the cave whose entrance he barred.