Last August, we gathered up a swell group of friends (you have to have at least 3 people) and headed out to Freedom, OK early in the morning. Our adventure first began with rescuing a tri-athlete on the side of the expressway with a blown-out bike tire, but fortunately no bodily injuries. She was an Oklahoma-transplant and I hope that we restored her faith in Okie goodness. I also shared my blog with her, since she wasn't aware of all of the great things Oklahoma offers for the adventurous.
|Photo by Bryan Fowler|
We arrived at the Alabaster Caverns State Park about midday, so we took a quick lunch break before the exploration began. A horned lizard joined us - a rare treat since their populations have taken a dive in the last few decades.
For a small fee, we got our wild caving permits, signed waivers, and let the park staff know which cave we were going to explore first. They require you to check in with them before and after each cave. We were thoroughly warned that they would send search and rescue after us if we weren't back by 3pm, and charge us a hefty fine, too.
The day was getting long, so we picked a second and final cave for the day and decided on Owl Cave. It was a short, but scenic, hike to get to the cave. The gaping entrance drops down into a more narrow, but still semi-tall, path. We made our way to the far end of the cave and followed the trickling water until it became too slick and small to go any further. The day was hot, but we were cool in the damp and dark of the cave.
After we changed into clean clothes, we headed home along the Great Plains Trail. On our way, we decided to stop in Waynoka for ice cream at the local soda fountain shop. The sweetness was only intensified by a lovely rainstorm like only a blazing hot Oklahoma day can brew. We sat under the awning and licked melting ice cream and soaked up the day.
There are two other wild caves at Alabaster Caverns that we still need to explore - Ice Stalactite and Bear Cave. If you go, be prepared to get stinking filthy. Bring a change of clothes and take advantage of the showers at the park. Don't be afraid of the bats, rodents, reptiles, and bugs. Don't expect the maps or park staff to provide much direction on the wild caves. Explore, enjoy, and be silly. You will be dirty and stinky and not give an excreta!