Down the caverns, up the mountains


I almost died this weekend, and no, this is not me being overly dramatic. My life was legitimately in danger. I’m getting ahead of myself though. Let me start at the beginning. Like any college student, I was relieved that it was finally the weekend. However unlike most college students, I got up at 5 a.m. on Saturday. I crawled out of my bed and got ready for my adventurous day to start.

Now there is a logical reason as to why I was awake at 5 a.m. on a Saturday. All of the exchange students got together and decided to go caving this weekend. So we rented a bus and made our way west to an area just outside Australia’s Snowy Mountains – Australia isn’t only beaches and the Outback.

Of the dozen caves burrowed into the side of these mountains, only two were open to the public. We made our way to the first cave, which was so big that six elephants could have easily fit through. Once we made our way through the first chamber, it began to look more mysterious. Hundred upon hundreds of crystals shined from the multicolored walls. It was beautiful, but it was nothing compared to the second cave.

The mouth of this one was far more intimidating. I had to crouch to get in. From there we climbed down the world’s steepest ladder into the main cavern. It, too, was filled with stalagmites and stalactites. They jetted forth like javelins as we maneuvered through.

All I could think about as we pushed deeper and deeper into the cave was how it all looked like a scene from a scary movie. We placed bets on who would die first. Thankfully it was decided I wasn’t the weakest link, but needless to say, I wasn’t going to make it far in our personal horror movie. It didn’t help that we had all watched “The Descent” a few days before. Spoilers: A bunch of white girls go into a cave, meet a pack of carnivorous cave dwellers and die.

So, watching that two nights before wasn’t our best idea, but that wasn’t why I almost died – that came after lunch.

Once we found our way out of the cave, we made our way down the mountain. At the bottom was a river that we followed for about a mile until we got to a thermal spring. The water temperature remains in the high 80s all year despite the weather. This was perfect for us since it is now fall in Australia. Without hesitation, we all jumped in the oversized bathtub. After we all had our fun, we sat down for a picnic.

After lunch, we made our way back up the mountain. Everything was going well until someone yelled, “STOP!” We turn around to see, not even a foot from us, an eastern brown snake in the grass, its beady eyes locked on us.

For those who don’t know, the eastern brown snake is the second-most venomous snake in the world. They are also highly aggressive, and here it was, resting just inches from my exposed legs. We all stood in panic as I slowly backed away before getting the hell out of there.

So in the end it wasn’t cave dwellers that were going to get me, but rather a snake. How fitting for Australia. Thankfully, though, we all made it out okay and are ready for our next adventure. This time at the Great Barrier Reef.

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