Here Is More On What I Do and Why I Do It
As with so many cavers, my days of caving were fueled by my parents. As a small child they would carry me to cave entrances as part of the "Sunday drive." As always, every cave to them was full of deep drops and always treacherous. Did I mention the deep lakes? Needless to say their attempts to keep me out of caves was the very thing that drove me to explore them. As soon as I was able to break away with some friends, I was underground exploring the new world. Much of my early days were spent roaming in the caves of Blount County, Alabama. Seemed like I could always find two or three buddies to drag out in to some mud crawl. Occasionally I would get lucky and organize a "big" trip of maybe eight or nine people.
From the start I felt like a visitor in a cave. It was its own place and I was there just to look and marvel at the underground beauty. Seeing damaged formations, trash, and spray paint took away from the enjoyment of exploring what was, to me, a new place. I had an attitude that I would always do my best to leave a place better than I had found it. I clearly remember while getting ready for a trip a new caver pulled some spraypaint out of his truck to carry along. I told him we don't do that. Not quite sure who "we" was back then. I had no knowledge of the NSS (National Speleological Society) at the time. Turns out the values I had were share by the NSS all along. As I got older I was eventually introduced to the Cullman Grotto by a fellow co-worker, John McCrary. I never joined that grotto but went caving with John several times. He introduced me to several techniques that helped make caving safer. I caved off and on over the next few years.
Moving to Huntsville, Alabama put me near some great caves. It wasn't until I saw the movie, Journey Into Amazing Caves, that I got serious about caving again. At the same time I made two new caving buddies, Eric and Samantha Peterson. My passion for cave exploration was rekindled and has been burning ever since. I joined the NSS, became a member of the Huntsville Grotto, and have had nothing but a fun time ever since. My mom and dad still worry about my adventures. My sister still begs me to drag her into the horror holes. As kids she would do it just to prove to me that she could; she always did. Nowadays I'm learning to survey and spend most of my time on trips setting up and shooting cave photos. I have been extremely fortunate to have wonderful caving buddies to help with the burden of everything that goes with cave photography. There is no way of thanking them enough. Dragging box after box of equipment through every type of condition, sitting forever waiting for me to set up a shot, and then hauling it all back out. These are just a few of the burdens involved with attempting to capture the beauty below. My wife Joy seems to like the pictures but gets nervous just before I walk out the door to head off to parts less known. I always assure her I will be careful and safe. Caving is safe as long a you play by its rules. Never get into the habit of taking shortcuts on anything. If you are just getting started, seek out a local grotto to join up with. Learning the right way will save you much hardship in the long run. I am thankful that I had great caving buddies who always put safety first. There are quite a few trips we would have not walked away from if that had no been the case. Always remember, you are only as strong as your weakest caver. Have fun and enjoy a world so few have visited and so few will ever see.
Enjoy the site.
Nathan Williams NSS# 52960