Entering the nether world

My maiden blog post! As the editor of the Oregon Underground, the newsletter of the local caving club in central Oregon, it will be challenging to not duplicate efforts between that venue and this one. The newsletter will have the crème de la crème: the cave maps, the best pictures, the grittiest details, and exclusive articles from a variety of authors. But it doesn’t get published as much, so this blog will shine in ways that it cannot.

But just how will this blog differ? In quantity. Many of my excursions that go undocumented will find a home here. Aside from exclusive content in the form of trips and pictures, I hope to have video too. More musings, more snippets, more history, more of just about everything. Maybe even non-cave related items?


My son Nyhl in Mycelium Cave

What will this blog not be?

Another position I have with the Oregon High Desert Grotto is that of webmaster. From time to time, I get emails that ask for cave locations. Unfortunately, I have to refuse every single request.  You see, most cavers (that’s what we call ourselves) operate under a kind of secrecy. That is, we don’t reveal cave locations. It’s not that we are jerks or selfish. But it serves to protect the caves from the wrong-doers, and the good-intentioned from themselves. Caves are a delicate thing and can easily be harmed beyond repair. On the flip side, spelunkers who wander into a cave unprepared can hurt themselves by not being properly equipped with the right gear.

We are entering a new phase with our culture as it continues to harness the power of the internet. Everything that cavers hold dear is at risk. All kinds of information is becoming accessible and it won’t be long before all those secret caves become more visible and accessible with just a click of the finger. If the average joe can go online and find coordinates to a cave, there is no need for him to contact his local grotto. This is the threat all grottos must face in the future lest they become an afterthought. Cave location secrecy is still an effective management policy, just not a foolproof one. I intend to employ it here and strongly urge anyone interested in caving to contact their local grotto to learn more. Click on the “About” page above for a link to the Oregon High Desert Grotto website.

One of the ways I plan to help cave management is by reversing the lack of education the general public has on caves. The status quo has come about through a modus operandi of decades of secrecy. This secrecy has not brought caves into visibility as a resource that needs to be protected. Secrecy has been a double-edged sword. But those days are quickly coming to an end. So it falls on all cavers to begin to educate the public as to why caves need protection and the proper way on how to do that.

In my case, I hope to foster a love and respect for caves through this blog. This may bring new responsibilities to local grottos and I hope that they will rise to the challenge of training new enthusiasts and create a new generation of cave caretakers.