The weather forecast and sky were looking ominous this morning. The original plan was to go caving in the morning and climbing in the afternoon, however we reversed the plan. There were supposed to be afternoon storms and JC insisted the rock was currently dry.
La Baou de Saint Jeannet is the rocky mountain sitting above St Jeannet – a beautiful stone-housed village. A steep climb up and we were at the crag. The clouds were looking like light rain, which was enough for another change of plans. Instead of doing the multi-pitch to the top of the mountain we simply did several climbs at the first pitch – so we could make a quick escape to the cars if necessary!
I was challenged on the climbs but made it to the top of each one with some helpful tips from below. Having built up an appetite we devoured a massive Plat de Jour and beer as the clouds parted.
After lunch we caved through La Grotte des Carranques. Stalactites, stalagmites, curtains, etc as well as squeezes and clambers.
Oh and did I mention dessert with every meal ?!?! What a first day! How could tomorrow top this?
The weekend started with eating my favourite gelato flavours, so I knew it was going to be a good one. My friends, wracking their brains to gift me with an outdoors (well “outdoors” in this case given it’s indoors) adventure I hadn’t yet tried, signed me up for 6 hours of “intense” and “muddy” caving out at Jenolan. I was not disappointed. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to wipe muddy hands all over my outer garments. And, with the all round dry conditions of the cave, I could do this all day long as the mud dried quickly.
Not only did my friends give me this voucher, but they also piled me into the car at 5am and drove me all the way out there for the 8:30am start. As I went in to register I was already smiling from ear to ear – knowing that they’d booked a farm house for the night and that when they picked me up that afternoon there’d be someone back at the house preparing dinner.
With overalls on, copious snacks stuffed in my pockets (always a must) and a hard helmet on my head, we were off: nine participants and two guides. We climbed through a hole and started descending. It was time to find out if I suffer from claustrophobia.
There were numerous occasions where we had to squeeze through tight gaps, or follow a series of manoeuvres to negotiate our way through the cave. Every step of the way our guides Ted and Sasha put our safety first and automatically positioned themselves so that they could talk us through the moves and help us whenever necessary. To be honest, they are possible the best guides I’ve ever met. They were filled with enthusiasm and historical information.
The underground sights were truly amazing. Highlights were squeezing through tight gaps, commando rolling over muddy pools with low ceilings, popping out in voluminous caverns with wondrous formations and, the pièce de résistance, being given the opportunity to try and navigate the group back out.
Oh and in case you were wondering … dinner was delicious and the farmhouse was lovely. Thanks so much to my friends!!