The girls fit easily into this 5.5"x24" space...now imagine going through several feet of cave that size!
The tour we were on starts with an elevator ride down into the bowels of the earth to a depth of 300 feet. Once there you are given the spiel and an opportunity to turn back. I, being an intrepid spelunker in my own mind, thought, "oh this will be fun!" and we all agreed to continue with the tour. The tour is 723 metal steps, (the equivalent of 40 flights of stairs... wish I'd read that before today) incorporated into a half mile of trail deep underground. There are lighted areas along the trail, so it’s not totally dark, but it’s not exactly well lit either. My thought was that it was going to be a fairly leisurely tour; after all, it’s an hour and twenty-minute tour and only a half-mile long. Lots of time to take pictures, ask questions...no reason to be out of breath.
Holy crap... its dark and kind of steep!
Turns out, we were with the tour that was apparently trying to set some sort of land speed record for getting through the caves. Sean, the leprechaun-sized Park Ranger who was our guide was very nice and very knowledgeable. I don’t know if it was him or the people in the front of the group that were setting the pace, either way it was killing those of us in the back! I’m not in great shape, but even the super fit Amazon from Iowa who was behind me was breathing hard. By the end of the trip, I was out of breath and sweating rather profusely. Given that it’s a constant temp of 49 degrees in the tunnels, it was rather embarrassing to come out covered in a fine sheen of perspiration.
We visited Jewel Cave on Monday and on Tuesday we were on the road to home. We had to get back so the girls could start school. A funny thing happened on the way home... we ended up in Nebraska! It was only for a couple of miles, but it was a bit shocking to pass that, 'Welcome to Nebraska' sign. Its not a usual route to go through Wyoming to Colorado via Nebraska:)