It was a few years ago but a story worth telling. The group I cave, raft, camp and scamp with is the White Water Playboys. We have had twelve years consecutive with each other and every year it gets better and better.
The California Caverns down stream circuit is not one for the weak at heart. One of our rookie WWP's, Darren, found that out before we even got to the cave. We were talking about it for at least a hour and just several miles away we had to stop the truck to let Darren get out and puke. He was on his hands and knees looking like he was gonna die. Needless to say he did not join us for the underground adventure...
After hiking down a old dirt road for a mile or so we climbed up a hill to find a hole between two rocks. Our entrance to the down stream circuit. Our first challenge was a hole in the floor of the cavern they like to call the "Roach Motel" Just a tad larger than a basket ball we all squeezed in a room no bigger than a couple of porta potties. We were so jam packed in this room none of us could move a inch. We all turned off our head lamps and it was so dark you would poke yourself in the eye before you knew your finger was near it.
After 20 minutes or so we all had to make our way out of the Roach Motel. The reason they called it that was because you can get in but you can't get out! If you have the tummy of Gandhi or Stewart McClure not a problem but for guys like me and Big John it took us both over a 1/2 hour to squeeze out of it.
This whole thing was a big test to see if anybody was claustrophobic. Turned out that none of us are. Now the adventure begins! As we crawled through the second crack in the rock we were soon enough in waist deep water. Did I mention the water was a nut shriveling 40 degrees? Everything is going along well until we come to a spot where the path dead ends. We all looked at each other like where do we go now? The guide says "From here we all need to swim under water to the to the other side." Great! Well we all did it and then moved along to the "Mud room". Here we crawled through mud up to our nipples. At one point Troy lost a shoe but I was able to fish it out with my foot.
You could barely move in this room! Back to the water trail now in water up to our necks. At our foot level there was a tight chain that you followed with your feet while your hand held you up against a wall. Again moving along just fine until some smart guy named Peter jumped up and down hard on the chain and bounced me and several others into water well over head. Not cool!
Shortly after that we came to the exit which was a series of aluminum ladders attached somehow to a rock wall at least 200 ft up. In the middle of the section you had to cross over to another ladder to your left. I'm not afraid of heights, just afraid of falling. The guide told us if any of us fell we would most likely kill not only ourselves but everyone else below you on the ladder. When we all finally after 3 hours underground saw the light of day it was a welcome site.
If you're looking for a very exciting trip that you will never forget check out the California Cavern Down Stream Circuit!