By Kelsey Chung
Reprinted from “The Anchor,” January 15, 2010
Her heart beat loudly under her shirt as she stretched her body and hand out to the small foot hole in the wall.
In her mind she questioned herself, â€œcan I seriously do this?â€Â Her dad was tiptoeing to hold his daughterâ€™s foot while she reached for the hole.
It was obvious that it was too far of a reach when she grasped the little ledge.
Half dangling in midair and her body stretched out diagonally, her heart dropped when she lost her grasp on the wet, slippery rocks and started to slip down.
Without any harnesses to secure her or a helmet to protect her, she slid down four feet into the unknown and fell on her butt.
Unhurt, she laughed as she stood up from the wet and dirty rocks.
Although it may sound like a nightmare for some people, for Senior Daniella DeLucia, this was just one of her many trips to caves.
Spelunking, or caving, is exploring caves and the different rock formations and crystals that are made in the caves.
â€œItâ€™s like walking into a mine but one that is made by nature,â€ DeLucia said.
After her parents married and became passionate about caving, caving has been part of DeLuciaâ€™s life even before her birth.
â€œI started caving basically before I was born.Â My mom actually led an expedition when she was pregnant.Â Everyone told her that she was crazy but she still did it.Â I first went in when I was three weeks old,â€ DeLucia said.
Caving for DeLucia has become more than an unusual hobby.
â€œOnce I started, I was like â€˜Whoa! Cool!â€™ but now itâ€™s more like when my parents talk about really hard caves, I want to go because itâ€™s a challenge to do it and it feels pretty amazing when you come out of a challenging cave,â€ DeLucia said.
For DeLucia, caving offers her the challenge and excitement she needs in her life.
â€œI love the excitement and thrill of it; and the mystery of not knowing whatâ€™s in each cave.Â Every cave is different.Â Some are just walk throughs but some have big drops and you have to crawl around,â€ DeLucia said.Â â€œMost of the time, Iâ€™m excited but I do get nervous when there are drops.
Caving also shows the many natural wonders of the world.
â€œMy favorite place is Church Cave because itâ€™s really pretty.Â Inside, thereâ€™s a part called the Cathedral Room.Â Itâ€™s like a big granite room.Â And in the middle of it, there is an alter looking thing that shines and sparkles.Â And itâ€™s all nature made,â€ DeLucia said.
Although caving offers beautiful scenery, the nature made caves can also be a dangerous place.
Itâ€™s definitely a hobby but itâ€™s also one of those things that Iâ€™m serious about.Â You always have to think and you have to be serious about it because you could not come out from a cave because of one bad move,â€ DeLucia said.Â â€œItâ€™s dangerous because there are sharp rocks everywhere and if a rock from above fell, it could bring you down and you could fall.Â You always have to be alert and aware of your surroundings,â€ DeLucia said.
Because of the dangers, the buddy system is required when caving and communication is critical in case of an emergency.
â€œYou have to respond to other people.Â My dadâ€™s thumb was crushed one time because the person above him failed to warn him that a rock was falling,â€ DeLucia said.
DeLuciaâ€™s family try to plan at least 2-3 trips every year.Â Although it is possible to sleep overnight in some caves, their trips are mostly one day long.
â€œI hope that I continue to do this when Iâ€™m older.Â When I have family someday, I would want them to be involved in it too,â€ DeLucia said.Â â€œThe beauty and challenge of caving is just amazing and also humbling knowing that nature created this stuff.â€