Working my way up a slippery slope as we get ready to exit the cave. Now a traverse across the upper end of this fifty foot deep long and narrow crevice in the limestone, wet and muddy in spots where the earth has found it's way in to reach toward the depths where the passage starts.
The upper part bells out and now the small triangle of light illuminates the rippled rock and I watch where I put my feet on the opposite walls stretching myself upward. Brian had a hard time getting out and he tells me he will pull me out when I get into position. I reach up, and push my body with my feet. The triangle is small and about 2-3 feet long, so tight I must reposition as I cannot get my shoulders through with one arm up and one arm down. Both arms and reach for sky and reach for faith. My partner grabs my wrists and forearms, we lock off and I let go of the walls with my feet. He pulls, but as we figure out later, I am too bulky with several layers of clothing for this cold cave. My pants pocket catches on a corner of rock. Brian pulls but I go no farther. He lowers me some and I spread out my arms and hang on the lip. I am at a poor angle for leveraging myself up. I find one foot hold blindly. It bends my knee back and under and is not conducive to lifting me out. I want to climb down and remove my pants, I have a unitard on, and will then climb out. Brian warns me against it due to the difficulty of finding the footholds. I thnk I can do it. I slide down in a little, using friction. Then it happens. I blow my foothold and there are no handholds until I could lower myself under the triangle of rock. I fall, and it seems slow and fast at the same time. I flail my arms and legs, hit rock, then hit harder, landing on my back and hip on a chockstone in about 12-15 feet, luckily preventing another 30 feet of freefall.
Brian had removed my headlamp when I popped up. I lay on my back with my feet dangling in the twilight zone. He is yelling and I am groaning trying to sit up and figure out where the heck I am. I am almost wedged between the chockstone and wall at an angle and slowly move around to check the damage. I hurt, but not in a broken bone kind of way. I tell him I am ok and sit on the chockstone a little stunned and scuffed up but seemingly none the worse for wear. He lowers a headlamp to me on a handline.
Brian is a excellent caver,and climber, as soon as he ascertains I am ok, he tells me I must climb up again-----it's the best way to learn, and up my own skill level.
I slowly remove my pants and he pulls them out. I am in my unitard but still have knee and elbow pads on. I climb up slowly, careful placement of feet and hands. My body hurts at the contortion but I ignore it, mostly ignore my head telling me not to fall, not to fall again.
I reposition and come up to him. He again grabs my arms and I close my eyes and tell him to pull as hard as he can. My legs let go. I slide up, then I am sitting partly on the lip, out.
Charlie comes to try and lick my face. He whines as he sniffs me. This new cave is beautiful and hard and has exacted a price. As my bruises create technicolor on my body, after the drive home I am so stiff I can hardly walk. This lasts a few days, then I am as good as new it seems.
I have a phobia of heights and of falling. I've fallen before on belay, this is the first time for this type of freefall and I hope the last.
I tried some new lighting techniques in the cave for photos and it had some super tight crawling and squeezes that I really like, but I'm not going out of that entrance again without a rope.