The next 10 days would unfold as if they were plucked straight from a fairy tale. The next day I woke up early and went to yoga outside on a deck that over looked the Gorge, it was absolutely stunning and just what I needed!! I’ve struggled to keep up with a daily practice but relish in it when I get it together. Then we returned to the river for another day rafting the Lower New with Evan and a few of his friends. Each one was so incredibly awesome in their own right and it was so cool to immediately feel “part of the gang”. We ended up taking a bigger boat down this time and had another BLAST!!! This time I fell out of the boat twice while “surfing” a rock called Greyhound!! All was good until Sienna realized her purple Crocs were floating down the rapid and the first melt down ensued!!! The guys were able to trace them down the river and spotted them spinning in a little pool….. Thank God Sienna bounces back quickly. This little girl continues to amaze me with her ability to relate to adults and hold meaningful conversations. She still struggles when she is not the star of the show and patience is something that just seems like a prison sentence to her, but we keep chipping away at the rock and I know there’s such a beautiful masterpiece unfolding……
We had lunch again at Whale rock and Sienna flung herself off the rock into the rapids again and again…… We both jumped off Jump rock and she continued to identify the names of certain rocks and the sequence of the rapids. It was so so amazing to see her so focused and engaged!!! We all met for dinner at Pies and Pints and if you’re ever in the area, I HIGHLY recommend it!! They even have all their pizzas in a GF version and a plentiful list of ingredients to create your own masterpiece!!!
The next day Sienna and I had a pretty lazy morning around the campsite. It was glorious and I was hit with the fact, that I am finally settling into my skin a bit more. No longer searching for structure or grasping for something to control….. just breathing and enjoying the exhale as everything begins to soften and just melt into place!! We went to the Visitor’s station and Sienna earned her first Junior Ranger Badge of the trip!!! It was the first day of school for all her friends back home and we were hit with waves of sadness that we wouldn’t be at the bus stop anymore to spend mornings with friends conquering all the worlds problems while clenching our coffee cups and constantly looking down the street to see if “today would be the day the bus arrived on time”. I will miss those mornings and the talks and the laughs and the incredible friendships that were formed on a street corner in Delray Beach, FL!!
We decided to take a hike recommendation and found our way to the Long Point Trailhead, (a MUST if you come this way!!) The hike was pretty mild and opened up to this ridge that had sweeping drops on either side so your tummy started turning a bit as you made your way to the point. At the end of the trail, there is a clearing and a huge rock that gives you an INCREDIBLE view of the New River and The Bridge and the stunning backdrops in every direction are just awe inspiring. I decided to do some yoga and Sienna and I hung out and took it all in, watching a storm roll out in the distance. Just as we were packing it up we got an awesome surprise visit from Evan….. He saw our car as he was going off the river and came to say hey…. (Gotta love that small town feel where people look out for each other and look forward to sharing moments and connecting with others!) We hung out for a bit more and hiked back. We came across a dead coral snake (which someone chopped the head off of and left the body on a rock) I said a silent prayer and then checked it out because I’ve wanted to be able to identify the poisonousness snakes quickly!!! Sienna was fascinated and wanted to touch it and I encouraged her to explore her interest. We headed out and had our first fire of our trip with fire wood that we collected instead of bought! Another magical day in the books…..
The following day we decided to check out the Upper New River on our North 2, Adventure Air SUP board….. I’d never taken a SUP down a river and I was nervously excited to see how it would go. We check out the route and made sure it was safe and manageable and Evan offered to ride down in his raft with us to make sure all was good. We had such a blast!!! It was so interesting to try to navigate the river and the baby rapids on the SUP…. I definitely had to drop to my knees a few times, but all in all it was SUPER fun and I’d love to do more on the river with a SUP!!! It was really helpful for me to have to pay attention and read the water instead of just listening for stroke commands from the experts….. I loved learning and really FEELING the way the water pushes and pulls….. I’ve always felt like I could NEVER live far from the ocean because there is something extremely therapeutic for me to submerse myself in the vastness of the great ocean, to feel so small in such a powerful body of water, to see that one second it can be calm and docile and the next it can be churning and tossing around…. I probably relate to the polarities and feel understood by mama ocean!!! But being out on the river and feeling it’s power and feeling so small definitely made me rethink my need to be near the ocean. I refined my need and decided I just need to be near a flowing body of water that reveals it’s power and versatility to those around it…….. hahahahaha OK, so I’m still reaching for structure and labels a bit…. I’ll keep working on it!! After we got off the river Evan’s friend Zeb had invited us to go caving in Virginia, (I told you they were cool people)!! We got off the river a bit late and Sienna and I jumped into the car and headed to a shared pin drop in the middle of nowhere Virginia. We kew there was limited cell service and couldn’t reach Zeb, but took a chance and set out on an adventure.
It took us over 3 hours of winding roads and gravel drives to find the pin drop. When we arrived we quickly knew we were NOT in the right place!! I turned right down a little access road and the grass engulfed my car. I parked and ran to the top of the road (which turned out to be a power line access road) to see if I could see anything. We drove around the areas about 10 miles in all directions looking for Zeb’s truck and found a few Park Service employees who each gave us different opinions of where we may find what we are looking for, but without the name of the cave it was like searching for a needle in a haystack. We were now about 4 hours late and decided to head back up the mountain to search for phone service in the crazy ass chance Zeb may still be in the area!! I was frustrated and disappointed, but more than anything I was COMPLETELY embarrassed that I left this COMPLETELY generous man waiting HOURS when he was just trying to share something super cool with us!! I could’t believe it, especially since timeliness is one of my really big sticking points!!! I HATE being late!!! I decided not to beat myself up and let the sadness wash over me and leave my being on an exhale…… I took another deep breath to clear the funky energy and we turned the corner to head up the mountain and BAM….. there was Zeb and his friend Mark sitting at a random 4way stop hoping to find us….. I mean I almost hit his truck!!!! I could barely contain my excitement and immediately we set off to the cave entrance. Zeb and Mark were so gracious and kind and acted like it was no big deal and actually apologized to me for the poor directions!!! I was BLOWN AWAY again at the kindness of these amazing men!!! If this would have happened in South Florida, this story would be going in a completely different direction!!!
We worked our way down into Butler’s Cave and traversed the Blue Ribbon Loop. (This is a privately owned cave system in Virginia, but if you ever get the incredible chance to go…. definitely 100000000% go!!!!) We changed into warm clothes and put on hard hats and head lamps and set out on our next adventure! We dropped down into the cave and immediately I knew, we were in for an epic treat!!! We had to hike and climb and duck walk and get on our hands and knees and even belly crawl through this cave system that was so gorgeous words could never do it justice. There was this cold darkness that you were aware could swallow you whole at any second, yet the lights bouncing off the cave walls created a warms glow that invited you in deeper….. as we dropped lower under the surface of the earth and explored underground streams and a TINY waterfall that Sienna predicted would be “5 feet high x 10 feet across” from the sound of the flow….. When we arrived at the trickle Sienna was shocked and announced it was “no feet anything” as we all laughed at the wonder of the world underground. We saw stalagmites and stalactites, we came across cave flowers and crystal formations form 350 MILLION years ago.
We found pools of water and we felt like we were in a world where The Goonies collided with Jurassic Park!!! I was BLOWN away by the beauty the lies beneath our feet that very few ever get to experience!!! I counted my blessings many times on the trail that we ended up in this TOTALLY AMAZING place with the best tour guides ever!!! Zen and Mark knew everything there was to know about his cave and were pioneers in this cave system blasting into new corridors and exploring places that have NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE!!!! That is the coolest thing ever and we got to experience it!! We worked our way out of the maze and resurfaced just as darkness was setting in and a massive storm was rolling in. Sienna and I took our time driving home exhausted from such an incredible day!! We fell into bed, our hearts exploding with gratitude and brains that couldn’t even comprehend how epic our adventure in WILD & WONDERFUL West Virginia has been so far…….
Thanks again for following us on our adventure and I’ll finish up writing about our last few adventures in WV in the next day or so.
Love & Light Me