Cave in to Adventure: Rappelling into Valhalla Cave
Take a trip to the bottom of Valhalla Cave, located in Jackson County, Alabama! (Video footage courtesy of Robert Harris.)
Spending a night in a cave is a bit different than what was featured in “The Goonies,” however there are cave camping adventures waiting beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains. Caverns offer year-round cool temperatures, a welcome respite from summer heat or winter cold, for that matter.
Spelunking has been discouraged recently because of white nose syndrome, a disease afflicting bats and harmless to humans that is carried in and out by cavers. Preventions have been made and many caves still allow entry, but its best to call ahead first. Bats, stereotypically associated with caves, are not the only life found there. Caves are home to cave crickets, pack rats, salamanders and beetles. They are all relatively harmless, and the danger cavers should consider most is getting lost in darkness.
“People should have three sources of light on them at all times,” says David Socky, director of the Virginia Speleological Society and expert in cave mapping. If lost, Socky says the best thing to do is stop and wait. Since everyone entering a cave is supposed to tell someone where they’re going and when they’ll be back, rescue teams will have an easier time locating missing persons. With the advent of LED lights it’s simple to carry weeks’ worth of lighting.