EPIC trips: behind the scenes in Cody Caves, BC

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Erik Rotness

It’s senior year for me. The assignments are piling, motivation is dropping, my diet is mostly Taco Bell and cereal, and to top it off, I’m supposed to be planning a wedding with a fiance that lives over 4,000 miles away.

I needed to escape, if only for a weekend. I needed to get away from the constantly buzzing cellphone notifying me that there’s been a problem with some story for the week’s paper, I have an assignment due in Canvas and that there are 50 new discussion board posts I can view in my online class.  

Searching for next week’s story ideas, I had a stroke of genius. I could write about an EPIC weekend trip and get away for the weekend. I gingerly pitched said idea. The staff thought it was great.

Suckers.

I signed up for a weekend spelunking trip at the Cody Caves in British Columbia that finished with a visit to a local hot spring. “This trip is the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure,” the advertisement said. It was $100 for a two-day, two-night trip with almost all of the food included.

Suckers.

There was a pre-trip meeting where the EPIC employees explained our agenda, asked us not to sue them if we died, then handed out a packing list full of various accoutrements. There were over 27 items that were mandatory, though EPIC provided free rentals for some of the main ones, including a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles, backpack, puffy jacket and others.

On the day of the trip, we met around 3 p.m. outside the URC, double checked our gear and headed off to Canada. Our first 10 feet of the journey were interrupted by the unsecured back door to the van flying open.

Freshman Sydney Leach told me she wanted to go on the trip because it was a great way to meet new people. Though, including myself and the guides, there were only seven of us in total, meaning plenty of room to stretch out on the 14-seater bus and trailer we took.

We made a couple stops along the way to use the bathroom and pick up groceries for the trip, decided as a group to eat at a Mexican restaurant in Nelson, British Columbia before heading to our campsite where, in the time it took me to organize my 27 plus packed items, the EPIC guides had already set up my tent.

I woke up to an already cooked breakfast, ate, then our group drove off to meet our cave guide.

After meeting our guide and outfitting ourselves with mud suits, gloves, a helmet and a headlamp, we ferried an extended Australian family of four who were taking the tour with us to the start of our snowed over trail.

A few miles of hiking in the snow and one entertaining story of how our guide Stephen lied to a guy about having visited Cody Caves, then accepted a job as a guide without being offered later, we were ready to enter the caves.

The first room of the caves was filled with light from the surface and hundreds of hairy, brown spiders.

As we descended, our group was met with an empty blackness, illuminated solely by our sturdy headlamps. The air was cold; it was even colder than our hike outside in the snow. And everything was wet, either with a constant stream, or a slow drip from the ceiling. Most of the cave was slippery, and as we walked, climbed, crawled and squeezed our way around, the group saw a number of hard landings.

Throughout the tour we learned about the history of the cave, discovered by miner Henry Cody in the 1890s, and saw our fair share of stalactites, stalagmites and calcite covered rocks.

I was expecting more of just like, walking through a cave, but we were climbing and dropping down to reach the ladder…it was really cool.”

— Sydney Leach, Freshman

Over five hours later we emerged dirty, bruised and ready for the hot springs. We took our sweet time and enjoyed the hot water.

We eventually made our way back to camp where one of our guides learned how to cook noodles and made us pasta.

The last morning was simple. We had breakfast. I selfishly let the guides pack everything into the trailer, and we made our way back to EWU. And even though I was heading right back into all of the stress and expectations of senior year, I appreciated the fact that, for the entire trip, I hadn’t thought about my homework, my reporters, or the mess I forgot I left in the kitchen for my roommate Bri.

I’m sorry Bri.

To sign up for a weekend trip with EPIC, visit https://sites.ewu.edu/campusrecreation/epic/trips/.


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