“Reflections from WAW 2020” From Grigsby Outdoor Adventures & Wellness

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Last weekend, nearly 500 people from all over the United States made their way to Carter County, Kentucky for Winter Adventure Weekend.

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Once again we volunteered to help out as staff for Winter Adventure Weekend at Carter Caves State Park, and took part of the action all weekend long. We never can say enough good things about Carter Caves, the team who works there, and the special events held there such as WAW! We hold a lifetime of memories there, and plan to continue spending time there as long as we are able.

This event is very unique… simply put: there is nothing else like it around. We love how it gets folks out of the house in the winter and moving their bodies, sparking motivation, and bewilderment at the beauty there.

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This year we were guides on “Finding Mental Health on the Trail” and two back to back Bat Cave crawling trips. On the hike this year, we took a fantastic group of ladies over three miles to visit three natural bridges within the park. The Three Bridges trail will lead you to these beauties and more. If you are into geocaching, it’s a great trail to snag some of those as well. 

Along the way Amanda, also a licensed Counselor and Hypnotherapist, led discussions on the powerful benefits that nature has on not just the body, but the mind as well. Techniques such visualization, grounding, mindfulness strategies, deep breathing, and thought stopping were taught and demonstrated as well as “Grigsby’s 11 Areas if Wellness”. To learn more about those, you are always invited to book a wellness hike with us.

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Along the trail, the rain began to pick up pretty heavy, but no one complained. We accepted the weather for what it was, and looked for the positives ( waterfalls flow more when it rains and the sound of rain in a forest is very soothing). 

Our crew came from Northern Ky and the Cincinnati area, we had one from the Louisville area, and one from the Mt Sterling area. We enjoyed getting to know them as they each brought something unique to our day hike.

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The next morning, we were up and out to Bat Cave with co guides Sheila Stephens and Keith Music

( skilled and fun people to be around)!

We ventured into Bat cave with over 20 people and yes.. we brought those same people out safely :).

We duck walked, we rolled, we crawled on our bellies. The duck walking through “Back Ache Alley” always leaves the neck stiff, but it’s all part of the adventure. 

Afterwards, Amanda had only a short time before the next trip, so she just stayed behind to wait on them.. alone. She crawled back up to upper level of the cave to stay warm, just kicked back against the cave wall while she waited, turned off the flashlight, and just enjoyed the peacefulness. The only sounds were water dripping in the distance. 

The grounding experience to be found in a natural cave while alone delivered the ultimate mindfulness experience! There was time to really stare at the grooves in the limestone… the formations on the ceilings, walls, and cave floor. There was time to get acquainted closely with a few cave crickets and spiders who were peacefully minding their own business thankfully.

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When the next group arrived, Amanda helped guide the “Women Only” trip with Darby Campbell while Tim came back later with another full group. The women enjoyed their Gal Power exploration, even making attempts to maneuver through 10 inch cracks in the cave floor were made, and there were even closer encounters with the cave stream this trip, up to mid thigh (cave water is ice cold, but refreshing). In cold temps though, you have to keep moving to keep blood flowing and to prevent hypothermia. On Tim’s trip, along with guide Sarah Lott, there was more crawling in the Bat Cave with additional tight squeezes and wet passages to experience. Despite doing this trip back to back, we saw and enjoyed different scenery and paths each time.

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We ended the evening with warm thoughts of John Tierney, whose idea it was years ago to start this winter program. His spirit will forever live on in that park. We will be forever grateful to his contributions and the love he had for everything and everyone there.

Here are our Top 15 Favorite things about WAW

1. Working with and meeting all the fine volunteers every year. Lasting friendships have been made there.

2. The variety of winter adventure trips offered, everything from caving to ice climbing to winter survival

3. The Food! Nothing builds an appetite and brings out the flavor in the catfish at Carter Caves like a good calorie burn from spelunking.

4. The tshirts and souvenirs..always a unique design every year. We have shirts going back to 1995 when the event was still known as Crawlathon.

5. Of course the adventures themselves, and the feeling you get in your body after a good day of exertion. Caving works just about every muscle in the body.. what a workout!

6. The Cardboard cave… fun for all ages and actually pretty challenging.

7. The streaming video of photos that are broadcasted all through the day as people submit them

8. The snack table and friendly faces of The Friends of Carter Caves group

9. Chris, Coy, and Paul… they do a superb job of organizing and leading the park activities, events, and awesome employees! They also really know how to take care of their volunteers.

10. Watching people squeeze their body through the Squeeze Box competition. People even come out bleeding sometimes.

11. The evening programming and music every year. We enjoy hearing about the adventures of others.

12. The Silent Auction led by the fabulous Kelly Nicely. She is so full of energy and ideas. Always brightens our day. The silent auction always offers unique and adventure related items.

13. The beauty at the park and the way everything looks different in winter. There is something new to see every season there.

14. Seeing and meeting people from all over the nation traveling here for the adventure, and especially those who are seeing the beauty for the first time or have never been in a cave before.

15. The photo salon competition that entices the photographer in us all to share our inspirations through photos of Nature and more!

It’s been another great year and we highly recommend you plan to join us all at WAW 2021! Don’t let winter hold you back.., get out there!!!

Until next time…

Grigsby Outdoor Adventures

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