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Spelunking @Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park

In early August Peter, Mag, and I went up to Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park to try spelunking (caving) for the first time. I don’t know anything about caves but the idea about crawling around in pitch black in tight spaces sounds kinda cool. We weren’t disappointed.

While there are a variety of tours available at various price points, we decided to do some self-exploration in 2 of the caves at the cost of $8.50 for helmet and light rental. While it’s the cheaper option, apparently the guided tours allow you to see a bunch of limestone formations in a 3rd cave, the Riverbend Cave. Nonetheless, we still got to explore the “Main Cave” and the “Lower Cave”.

The main cave was around 150m deep which had us crawling around in some pretty narrow passageways putting us on our hands and knees, skirting sideways and hanging off of rock to avoid what would be a very unpleasant drops. Being alone in the dark and exploring alone was really neat, as we always had that urge to check out “that small hole” just a little further to see where it leads. Sometimes it led us deeper into the maze-like cave, sometimes it would lead into a dead-end and sometimes it would open up into a very small enclosed room. The sense of self-exploration and discovery really made it fun.

The lower cave was smaller than the main cave at around 50m deep but just as good. Again, exploring in the dark with only your light to guide you is exhilarating. On a couple of occasions we decided to turn off all lights just to see what it was like. I don’t think I’ve ever seen darkness as black as that! It’s kinda hard to describe but in this cave we were able to do a loop where we went deeper then came back to the entrance using 2 different paths.

Overall, I think we spent about 2-3 hours crawling around in there. The self-guided exploration is a good cheap option and I’m sure the guided tours are also very good, although I can’t comment on them since we didn’t do one. Thank goodness for the helmet because I must have hit my head about 10 times. Don’t go in without one! After our little caving adventure we car camped at Horne Lake itself, which was pretty good with all the basic services (such as water and firewood) being available.

It was well worth the trip and I’d recommend it to almost anyone- unless you are kinda hefty, in which case those tight squeezes might not work out so well.

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