Friday, November 15, 2013

Summertime at the Caves

When you think of Iowa, what do you envision? Vast expanses of very flat land covered in corn, correct? For the most part you are correct, and if you stumble upon Maquoketa, Ia you would not believe it's in the same state.

Having a free weekend, we decided to pack up the camping gear and go on an adventure. Part one was driving over to the Mississippi and driving along it on Hwy 67. It's a very scenic and quiet drive.

We then just randomly pulled into a camp ground. It turned out to be fantastic! It was sheltered from the big Mississippi by a couple of islands that created this wonderfully calm sanctuary. We threw our tent up at the mouth of a trail and headed out with our fishing poles. Where we threw our lines in was gorgeous! The fish were jumping and it was just beautiful out side.

The next day we headed over to Maquoketa Caves State Park for part two of the adventure. Here you can experience everything from a prairie to sheer rock walls, and we unintentionally hit every corner of the park. Many of the caves required head lamps and stomach crawling, so we opted for just the large gallery type caves. Bosley was very excited about the whole thing, until....

After the caves there were a lot of trails heading off over ridges. I pointed us back towards the car and we started to hike. We were distracted by the scenery and as it turned out, had a false sense of security in our location.

We hiked for over an hour before we realized we were lost. Coming from underground can really mess with your sense of direction. What we didn't know is that the cave lead us under the road we were basing our location on. So by trying to reach the road, we inadvertently got deeper in the park. We eventually broke through the trees and ended up in a huge prairie. 

Completely not where we're supposed to be. 

My phone was dead so there was no hope of calling for rescue. We should have turned around, but we kept walking, then it dead ended. With no other choice, we doubled back. 

Like good parents we planned ahead and brought no water. In our defense we were only going to be there for an hour. Now 3hrs in on an almost 90 degree day, Bosley flung himself desperately into the very next stream. Much of the hiking was up steep embankments then back down the other side, and Bossman was getting tired. This meant Erik and I had to take turns carrying him. 

By retracing our steps, we eventually made it back to the cave and we realized we were on the wrong side of the road. Before we could get back to our air conditioned car, however, we had to climb almost 200ft of stairs back out of the crevasse.

Next time, I want to do more cave exploring, less forest walking, and I WILL have a map.

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