Friday, April 15, 2011

Over Hill and Under Hill

Some of my friends and I went to the cave on Sunday of the Medjugorje weekend. Our fearless leader was Edward, who had been to the cave before. It is located under the Schwarzenberg, one of the mountains surrounding the little Gaming valley. It was a long trek, during which Edward and I talked about Lord of the Rings. Besides Mike and Logan, I think he knows more about the books than anyone I've met. 

When we reached the caves, we decided to enter in small groups. Caroline, Emily, Ian, and Sarah waited at the entrace while Brian, Edward, and I went down. The cave entrance is a large crack in the side of the mountain, and inside, the ground is not even, but slants downward steeply. In fact, it reminded me of the pit Mattie falls into in the movie True Grit. “Edward, there aren't snakes here, are there?” I asked with some trepidation, but he replied that there definitely were not. 

The farther down we crept, the more difficult it became. It had rained the day before, and the sloping floor of the cave was very muddy and slippery. I felt like I was going to slide down the rubble and mud to the bottom, but by clinging to the damp wall, I kept my balance. When Brian and I finally reached the end, there was only room enough to crouch.

We then began the ascent, which for me was more difficult than the way down had been. I kept slipping, and I felt uneasy at the thought of slipping down to the cramped, black bottom. It was at that moment that Edward remarked that the bottom of the cave would be a good place to bury dead people. I instantly had a vision of a corpse emerging from the black pit, groping my ankles with its horrible, decaying hands, and dragging me down into the dark.

Sometimes an overactive imagination is a curse. I promptly “freaked out” until Brian told Edward to shut up. I tried hard to block out the image, but then I thought of the Paths of the Dead in Tolkien's stories and Elladan saying the dead are following. Then, I thought of my ridiculous imagination and how like Anne Shirley I am, and at the thought of Anne Shirley and her affinity for being "deliciously scared", the fear lost its grip and I was able to laugh at myself. After we had clawed our way back up and had a respectable amount of mud on our clothes and hands, Sarah and Edward went down together.

With Sarah and Edward in the cave, the rest of us sat around the entrance and passed the time joking and talking- and singing. After twenty minutes, though, we realized that we could hear no sounds coming from the dark hole. The cave only extended down about a hundred feet. Peering down into the darkness, we called them repeatedly, but they did not answer. After several minutes of calling and telling them that this joke wasn't funny, we dispatched Ian to the Karthause for help. Dreadful possibilites ran through my mind- they might be hurt, maybe even unconscious...or they had vanished.

Then, a faint and muffled sound reached our ears. From the very bottom of the cave came the sound of someone moving. It was Sarah and Edward. When they finally reached the top, they told us their discovery: that what we thought was the end of the cave wasn't the end at all. There was a small tunnel at the bottom, just big enough for a person to crawl through on his belly. And through it was a giant chamber, as big as a football field. "You could have Mass for the entire Karthause community in there," Edward told us.

I wanted to see it myself, but since we only had one flashlight, we decided to go back some other day. We sent Edward running after Ian before the Karthause was alerted. The rest of us walked down the hill, relieved because our friends weren't dead and excited by our discovery. And so we emerged from the woods, muddy and content. When we reached the Karthause, the boys (minus Ian) and I jumped into the creek. This was a minor victory for me, since I have been trying all semester to get Brian to go creek-jumping.

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