Small things take on great meaning inside caves. The absolute darkness, constant temperature and complete absence of breeze creates a kind of sensory deprivation. Your sense of smell compensates for your dulled other senses and floods your brain with the wet earthiness of your surroundings. Every tiny sound is louder and clearer; and carries through the cavern on an echo.

So too do your swear words carry throughout the chamber when you misjudge the height of an outcrop and gouge your scalp on the cave ceiling.

Caving with kids is a special experience. They are convinced that they are the first people to ever explore this cave and to see what they’re seeing, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Suddenly, we’re all adventurers, striking out into unexplored territory with just our wits, a flashlight and a mildly stinging head injury.

Boyd Cave is a lava tube that branches two ways from its entrance. Our motley crew cleaved into two groups and Joe set up his camera near the entrance, capturing the rich oranges and browns naturally made by the early afternoon sun. He wanted to capture the contrast of the sharp, diagonal, silver stairway with the sweeping, gradual earth tones of the cave – an invitation to explore – when out of the darkness came twin beams of light. They were mom and daughter headlamps, returning from one branch of the cave as victorious adventurers, talking a mile-a-minute. They went in as family and returned as a team.