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Moaning Cavern Near Angels Camp, CA
andrew @ 06/ 24/ 2010

Moaning Cavern is a public cave located 2 1/2 hours away from the San Francisco Bay Area.   I did not research about the cave before going on this tour so I did not expect the intense but exhilarating trip that laid ahead.  Their main attraction in which I participated in was the 3-hour Adventure Trip where we began on a journey with a 165 foot rappel into the cave.  Of course for some, it took them a long time for them to rappel down, but with others, it took no time to reach the main cave floor.  We were shown a short instructional video beforehand about how to use the rappelling gear they provided so it was no trouble in understanding how to maneuver the intricate hooks and ropes.  The last 100 feet of the rappel is basically a free fall with no rock in front of you to push your feet against.  But once I did make it down to the bottom of the main cave floor, I was assisted by a worker who helped me take off unnecessary gear that was required for the spelunking.  This is where the cave adventure really begins. After everyone came down from the rappel lines one by one, a very knowledgeable tour guide took us down even further into the cave by foot, and thanks to our helmet lights, we could traverse slowly down the wet, slippery and pitch black canals.  The cave's temperature is a comfortable 61 degrees but a bit humid due to the moisture on the walls.  At first, it didn't seem too bad because we could still walk in an upright standing position.  But as we went further into the dark abyss, we had to maneuver around on all fours like a bear going through the forest.  Luckily, the tour provided us with knee and elbow pads so crawling through these tight spaces was possible.  Every once in a while we would go through impossible looking spots and then it would open out into a chamber large enough for the whole group to convene and take short breaks while the tour guide explained the history and facts of the cave.  We eventually had to pass through parts of the cave which looked impossible even for a baby to go through.  We had to lie flat on our back or on our stomach and inch our way slowly through parts of the cave called the "Pancake Squeeze" or the "Meat Grinder" as named by the attraction.  We went as deep down as we could without needing oxygen support.  As we came out of the spelunking adventure one by one through the last part called the "Birth Canal", we could see each other pouring sweat and exhausted from the long spelunking adventure.  Everyone was very dirty because of the moisture in the cave as well as sliding all over the place on their stomach.   Words cannot simply describe the intensity of this once in a life time adventure.  It was great to view the beauty of what lies underneath us in pockets and caves.  The rock formations were absolutely stunning 200+ feet below ground.  The 3-hour Adventure Tour is listed on their website for $130 which is a rappel down 165 feet and then a 1 to 2 hour spelunking trip, but if you go with a big group of 9 or 10 people, they'll give you a nominal discount.  $130 includes a video demonstration, rappel gear, gloves, helmet with light, elbow and knee pads, and optional overalls if you are scared to get your clothes dirty.  The place also offered different tours.  I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in outdoor adventures because this attraction is definitely a once in a life time experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

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