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means I got my workout and that this wasn't some cute little "tourist tour." Our tour definitely fe

Time:2018-09-14 19:03Shoes websites Click:

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My son and I are always looking for fun adventures to fill our days, and so I jumped at the opportunity to take a cave tour in nearby Canmore. It had been years since I'd last explored Rat's Nest Cave under Grotto Mountain, and I couldn't wait to get back down there again - this time as a family trip.

 means I got my workout and that this wasn't some cute little

 
Rat's Nest Cave Tour, Canmore  

Introduction to Rat's Nest Cave
Canmore Cave Tours guides groups into Rat's Nest Cave, a large undeveloped cave under Grotto Mountain in Canmore, Alberta. The company has been introducing visitors to this cave since 1992 with the goal of "offering our guests the most extraordinary, unforgettable experience possible."

The people who work for Canmore Cave Tours describe themselves as the "custodians" of this provincial historic site. They are passionate cavers and cave advocates and they control entrance to the cave (for its protection.)

There is no way for the public to access the cave without joining a guided tour, and there is a locked gate across the cave entrance to ensure nobody sneaks in after hours.

 means I got my workout and that this wasn't some cute little

 
Climbing up to the Rat's Nest Cave entrance  

Directly from the Canmore Cave Tours Website:
"Rat’s Nest Cave is a special place. In 1987 it was designated a Provincial Historic Resource because of its incredible archaeological significance. It is home to ancient pictographs, 7000 year old bones, and beautiful cave formations. At over 4km long, Rat’s Nest Cave is one of the longest caves in Canada. The water-sculpted passages of the cave offer us seemingly endless opportunities to learn and explore. At 5 degrees celsius, the cave is a cool but comfortable destination every day of the year, a trait enjoyed by cave residents like bushy-tailed wood rats, and North America’s smallest mammal - the pigmy shrew." With no lights, handrails or walkways, we are left to enjoy the cave in its natural state, just as the original explorers did."
Visit the Canmore Cave tours website to look at a map of the cave system.

 means I got my workout and that this wasn't some cute little

 
Helmets with bright lights help to guide explorers through the cave  


What to Expect from Tours in the Rat's Nest Cave
This is a wild and natural, authentic cave tour. There are no handrails, no lights other than the ones you wear on your helmets, and the cave floor has not been changed or altered for easy walking. There are no staircases, no easy ramps to follow down to lower rooms in the cave, and you will be crawling on your hands and knees!

Remember the bum scoot that toddlers do while learning to walking? You'll get good at this move during your cave tour! You'll also perfect your crab walking and test the health of your knees as you crawl around on the cave floor (fortunately you'll be wearing knee pads!)

Also, know that it helps if you have some experience with rock climbing! You will be wearing a harness and clipping yourself to a safety line with a short length of rope through much of the cave. This is to protect you from falling into the giant pit that's right beside the tunnel entrance (filled with animal bones,) and protects you from taking a tumble down the steep pitches you must climb down (and back up) in the cave.

You'll be given an introduction at the beginning on how to clip and unclip from the safety lines, but it does help if you have some experience using carabiners and working with a rope.

 means I got my workout and that this wasn't some cute little

 
Clipping and unclipping from safety lines in the cave  

Introduction to The Explorer Tour that we did
We chose to do the 4.5 hour long Explorer Tour (roughly 2 hours spent inside the cave.) This tour is recommended for children 10 years of age and over.

The youngest person on our tour was my son, and the oldest person was 80! In between, we had three teenagers, myself, and one other adult.

Our tour ended up taking 5.5 hours (I think we were underground longer than 2 hours, and our group was slow on the hike as well.)

The Adventure Tour requires an 18m rappel (recommended only for youth 12+) but our tour involved just basic scrambling with the safety ropes.


Outline of Our Caving Day Schedule
11am: We met at the caving office in Canmore for 11am and I'm pretty sure we were at the office until noon. One family was having challenges with their credit card (which delayed the registration process) and we all had to fill out waivers. We also had to try on our red jumpsuits, helmets, and gloves, and get our bags ready to go.

One in two people would carry a backpack with two sets of coveralls, helmets, harnesses, ropes, gloves, and personal items. (If you want to make your pack lighter and split gear into two packs, or if you want to use your own backpack, bring a backpack with you.)

Noon: Around noon we convoyed our way to the trailhead roughly 10 minutes away, following our guide. (We'd be with the one guide all day.) And note, you need to drive to the trailhead in your own vehicle. (Shuttles can be arranged though for an additional fee.)

We got to the cave, packed last minute items into our packs (water, extra layers, and snacks) and headed up the steep hiking trail to the cave. It took us probably 30 to 40 minutes to hike up to the cave with many breaks. Overall, we were on a good trail until we reached the canyon below the cave. Here we put on our helmets and could use a fixed rope that had been placed along the edge of the trail to pull ourselves up.

1:30pm: By 1:30 we were heading into the cave after hanging and leaving our packs behind under a tarp near the cave entrance. We took nothing into the cave with us other than safety gear and the items on our bodies.

4:00pm: By 4:00 we were back outside and ready to hike down to the parking lot where we'd end our tour.

4:30pm: Back at the parking lot and ready to drive back to Calgary.

Times are all a rough estimate. 


 means I got my workout and that this wasn't some cute little

 
Our caving group in Rat's Nest Cave  


Is the Explorer Tour Family-Friendly? 
Yes, BUT....

Below are the basic requirements (and words of caution I'd give) before you sign up for the tour with your children:

 means I got my workout and that this wasn't some cute little

 
Ready for action outside the cave!  

There are no bathroom breaks in the cave (though the guide can help you with this in the case of an emergency, hello pee bottle or squatting over a bag!)

Every member of your group should be comfortable scrambling, and climbing up and down steep terrain while pulling themselves up and lowering themselves down with a rope.

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