On Saturday, February 3rd, my partner, Nick Perkins, and I took a group of Appalachian State students to Worley’s Cave in Elizabethton, Tennessee. 17 people took on the hour-long drive to the cave deep within the mountains of Eastern Tennessee. We took a tour of Worley’s Cave through Earth & River Adventures, a guiding company based in Boone, North Carolina. Our guides took us on an incredible tour through all three levels of the cave telling us about the history of the cave and taking us through some awesome and challenging crawls!

Since Worley’s Cave is a privately owned tourist attraction, the trails inside the cave were very basic, and the only lighting came from our headlamps. We spent hours exploring only a small portion of the cave, including an underground river and a bunch of muddy crawls. Throughout the tour, students were often allowed to take on a small and challenging crawl or a more open pathway. Some of the spaces only had around 2ft of clearance between the ceiling and the floor! At the end of the tour, we conducted a ‘wet exit’ and walked through the underground river to one of the two natural entrances to the cave.

After the caving tour, we hung out in the parking lot to change out of our dirty clothes and enjoy some lunch. We also took the time to reflect on the trip. For most of the students, this was their first time going caving. Everyone embraced the messy nature of the event, with plenty of people leaving the cave with ‘war markings’ ready to scare off some other tour groups. We even ran into another group from Appalachian State University through our Outdoor Programs Outing Center. Overall, all of the students really seemed to enjoy our caving excursion and are looking forward to next year’s trip!