The frigid cold of mid-winter Michiana brings some different challenges for adventurers, but it also brings different opportunities. One of my favorite go-to winter activities is caving since temperatures underground stay at a comfortable 53 degrees year-round. After having taken a small group of experienced cavers to scout out Sullivan Cave a few weeks ago, we were ready to send in the whole gang. Friday night, 15 club members caravaned down to Shakamak State Park, our base of operations for the weekend. Another challenge of winter is that camping just plain sucks (in my opinion). In the past we’ve used couchsurfing.org to find free lodging, but our group has grown too big for that. Luckily, Shakamak has affordable 22-person cottages. We piled in and had a warm weekend of sleep for a reasonable $15 per person.
Saturday morning we drove to Sullivan Cave outside of Bedford. Exploring the cave went smoothly for the most part. We got in and immediately walked down the 2000 ft ‘back breaker’ passage, a walkway about 4 ft tall that requires you to hunch over in the most awkward way possible. Next it was a tight squeeze crawl to the Mountain Room, an impressive space that literally contains an underground mountain of collapsed rubble. We climbed to the top, then back down and continued. We took a long passage through a river (only up to our knees) to the Quarry Room. This room is full of bus-sized pieces of rock, fallen from the ceiling long ago and now available for us to climb on. At that point we turned back to begin our exit of the cave. On the way out, half of the party briefly got separated and lost, but were found pretty quickly. We spent about five hours total underground and had a pretty great time.
After making it back to the surface, we returned to the cabin and feasted on our potluck dinner, which included a cornucopia of amazing dishes. As our party heated up, things quickly progressed to playing rounds of the game dizzy bat, which quickly progressed to not playing dizzy bat when one person almost ended up vomiting. Later that night, we got word that a super massive snow storm was moving in and would probably make travel on Sunday impossible. About half of the group decided they couldn’t risk missing their work obligations, packed up, and headed back to town that night. The other half decided to ride out the storm and leave in the morning. Our Sunday hiking plans were cut short by weather, but everyone made it home safe.
Some photos were provided by Lara.