Excerpt from Chapter 5 of Surf the Woods
Several years back I heard the story about a wild cave with an interesting history near my property in the Ozarks. A local man told me that Indians often frequented the cave. When he was a boy, his father told him stories about going deep in the cave. Inside it there was a room filled with Indian artifacts all around the walls. His father told him that sometime in his lifetime the entrance to this room must have collapsed, because he had not been able to find the room when he returned to it one time as an adult. It sounded like the perfect adventure for me, so a friend and I set off on an adventure armed with directions to the cave.
After about an hour of heavy bushwhacking deep in the Ozarks, we found the cave entrance hidden beneath a bluff. Equipped with headlamps, kneepads, and helmets, we dropped off into the cave to explore for this hidden treasure. Once inside, we stayed together as we squirmed for an hour or so through passages in the cave. Time was running short. We hadn‘t found the secret room we were looking for, so we started making our way out. Near the exit we found two small tunnels that we hadn‘t seen on our way in. Knowing that we had limited time, he took one tunnel, and I took the other. These passages were very tight; as I squirmed through the passage on my belly, I began to worry that I might get stuck. I could see the passage went another ten yards or so and appeared to open up to a larger room beyond. As I debated about moving forward, I became gripped with fear. I was in a tight space by myself, and I feared if I kept inching forward I might not be able to get out. I was wishing my friend were with me just in case I got stuck and needed his help. Little did I know he was fighting the same battle with fear in the other tunnel. Overwhelmed by anxiety, we both backed out of our respective tunnels that day and left the cave never knowing if we were just a short distance away from the treasure.
I often look back on that adventure with regret. Was I only ten yards away from a room full of Indian history? I use that regret as a reminder to walk life‘s difficult moments in partnership with others. Courage comes in connection with those around us