Episode 205: Caving, Creatures, & a Dream Job – Ashley Adkins

INTERVIEW WITH ASHLEY ADKINS

Ashley Adkins isn’t a scientist, she simply loves recreational caving and the opportunity it offers folks with non-science backgrounds to contribute to the ongoing documentation and understanding of underground ecosystems.

Listen as Ashley shares her experience getting into caving, which led to her very own dream seasonal job last summer. In a historically male-dominated activity that’s known for gatekeeping, Ashley wants us to know about the new generation of cavers of all genders and specialties that are changing the sport for the better.

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Full transcript available after the photos.

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Featured in this episode: Ashley Adkins

Hosted & Produced by Gale Straub

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Fun in Caves

Neversink Pit

Neversink Pit, a SCCI preserve. Photographed by Alea Lyle Moore.

montana cave

Geologist Melissa Gundersen in a Montana cave


 

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TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gale – Narration: Hi everyone – it’s Gale. Before we jump in – I just wanted to say Happy International Women’s Month. I feel honored to link arms with so many incredible women through this work. Also, if you missed my announcement on Monday – I encourage you go to back and listen. Long story short – we’ll be relaxing the She Explores podcast schedule after mid March to leave room for curiosity and what’s best for the sho wand those that make it.

Thanks, as always for being here. With that – on with the show.

I’m Gale Straub and you’re listening to She Explores.

Sometimes I think about how many worlds are nested within our one world here on Earth. The tiny worlds of our households, the microscopic worlds of our atoms sharing electrons, the communities we cultivate, the vastness of the ocean. And then there’s the underground world of caves.

This is Ashley Adkins. Ashley isn’t a scientist, she simply loves recreational caving and the opportunities it offers folks with non-science background to contribute to the ongoing documentation and understanding of underground ecosystems. She reached out to me because she wanted to share her experience getting into caving, which led to her very own dream seasonal job last summer. In a historically male-dominated activity that’s known for gatekeeping, Ashley wants us to know about the new generation of cavers of all genders and specialties that are changing the sport for the better.

Ashley Adkins: So this was about seven years ago. I was invited to go caving. by a friend, they needed three people. So that’s kind of one of the golden rules of KV. Clearly you don’t go alone and two is not enough, but three, three is a good amount of people. in case of emergency, someone could stay, if you’re injured and the other person could go.

So I was asked like, would you like to go like, We’ve never been to this place before. And it was not a great cave. It was really gross, but I kind of loved it. It was, it was like in a drainage culvert in like a cul-de-sac by a neighborhood somewhere in Nashville. And even though it was not a great cave, it really like opened up the world in terms of like, I didn’t know that people did this for fun and this is really cool.

So we started going more often and it doesn’t take a lot of gear. So you can kind of get started with like clothes you don’t care about. All you need is like a helmet, three light sources and like some good boots. And then I found out that there were these things called grottos, which are basically like the regional clubs for caving.

I had never heard that word before and I went to some of the meetings and they were not the most exciting. it was a means to an end, which was getting in on some really amazing trips to like see some fantastic geology and like different formations and different biological life forms that I’ve never seen before.

So that was how a caver was born.

Gale Straub: It’s so wild to think that the first cave that you went to was in a suburban neighborhood, that it was not that far away, because you think about all these things being hidden that we don’t think about that. So I could see where your world really opened up, thinking about all the possibility of all those caves that are out there.

Ashley Adkins: Definitely, my background is more in hiking. Like I’m more of a backpacker yet. The awesome places to go that I love, or at least like two hours away. So. Two hours or farther. And the caves, they’re like 13,000 caves in Tennessee. And every state’s different where the geology’s different.

You’re going to have a different situation, but the possibilities are endless here. And that really opened up a huge door of we could do this, 30 minutes away. We don’t have to drive hours, which was really awesome. I would’ve done it anyway, but that was a bit of wall.

Gale Straub: Yeah, that adds to the accessibility piece that you mentioned too, because. Uh, and I’m sure it’s like anything that the more you, gain knowledge about it, the more that you start to want to push yourself in it, the more gear that you need, the more expertise that you need in order to stay safe when you’re caving.

Ashley Adkins: especially in terms of safety and you want to like trust the people that you’re with. So you don’t really want to go with, people that aren’t necessarily reputable you don’t need like really nice gear, but it helps having the pads to just like care for your body so that you can do it for a long time and not just an intense amount of time.

And it also just helps having people with like a lot of really great navigation skills. I mean, a cave map is three-dimensional going up and down and side to side, front ways, back ways it’s really disorienting. So even knowing a cave really well in person looking at a map, doesn’t always make sense to me still.

I have helped make maps and it’s still confusing to me. So. Meeting people that are passionate about it and want to do it in a safe way. That is, is also caring for the cave because like leave no trace definitely, translates in its own way. They call it caving softly.

Gale Straub: There’s so much lingo and things

Ashley Adkins: there is, there’s a lot of lingo.

Gale Straub: that you’ve adopted a lot of it over the past seven years.

Ashley Adkins: I’m trying not to do too much. Cause I, I think it’s like a little inaccessible for people. Like if they don’t know what a grotto is, I just call it like a a caving club or. I don’t really want to talk in brands when you get really deep into it, there is a bad call to sway go, and it’s not a cheap bag.

So people notice where you go is, but I’m just going to call it a CADing pack because I don’t want to seem really bougie. I want people who don’t have a lot of money to, especially with. Women. And like people who do not identify traditionally as male to get into it because it’s a predominantly male activity.

Still. There are some really amazing women that have contributed a lot, but the exploration side is still like pretty, pretty dominated by guys. So I want to try to like, keep it as successful as possible.

Gale Straub: Yeah. Was that ever a point in it feeling male or CIS male dominated that. made it ever feel like it wasn’t a sport for you or something that you didn’t want to continue pursuing.

Ashley Adkins: yes. Yes. It made me not want to go to meetings. It made me not want to participate in the like cultural side of it. So the national speaker geological society is still, it’s a thing that like we are members of as cavers, you don’t have to be, but they do some really awesome stuff yet. A lot of the practices I guess the values are still Pretty traditional. And there is like still some like traditional gender roles that play a part of that. And that was a barrier to me in terms of getting involved in my local club and the like higher club. So obviously there are people trying to change that now and like make it evolve in a more relatable way for a larger audience, because not as many people do caving as they used to.

Literally a graph that if there’s like a timeline, like when the smartphone came out, people stopped becoming new members of caving. Cause like, why would you want to go Clemmer on it or ground when you could like play on the internet on your phone? So I thought that was really interesting when I found that out.

it’s something that needs to be accounted for, but also in a more intentional way, because we want. Bring in people who are not traditionally focused on and outdoor spaces and also support them in a way that like they’re able to be safe emotionally and physically, because this is a very risky sport.

do any stories come to.

Gale Straub: mind for you that besides that first time caving, that really solidified your love of the sport for you?

Ashley Adkins: Yeah. this was like soon after I first started doing it. so I have always dealt with like depression and anxiety as, as a young person that was just like a very normal thing to me. And I used to get panic attacks like it really random times. And I went on a caving trip and I wouldn’t say I’m claustrophobic, but I wouldn’t really like push it.

I wouldn’t go into things if I didn’t really feel comfortable. And. A, a crawl that we needed to do to get to this really beautiful dome. That’s like 200 feet high. And it’s basically just like a tunnel that goes straight up and there’s like water coming down. It’s really beautiful. But I had to go through the crawl to get to it.

And I definitely started noticing the beginnings of having a panic attack as I was going, but I didn’t feel comfortable telling the people I was with because they were all guys. We’ve never talked about anxiety that wasn’t really. An accessible subject in that model. And I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone.

I think this went very well, but I, in that moment was able to like, talk to myself, basically self soothed. And I was able for the first time ever to like talk myself out of having a panic attack I was able to like push myself and go through this crawl and it was beautiful and awesome.

And I really loved it. And so, yeah, I would not advise people with anxiety to do things that scare them in this moment, especially in. Environments that are hard to be rescued from, but thankfully I had the tools to do so, and it worked and it was awesome. And that was really like a pivotal moment for me in terms of, I am able to unlock a new part of myself by doing this activity that was a pretty big moment. And that was when I was like, I love this and I’m going to keep doing this. And thankfully, since then I have met, a really amazing group of people who I just love spending that time with. And I really trust them.

They have like fantastic skillset in terms of like first aid, navigation, safety, and just like being a good team checking in with each other. And with that Tool belt basically. Like, I feel like we can do all kinds of different things, which is, has really opened up my world in the last few years.

so where, where do you cave? Like, is it still around the Nashville area

Ashley Adkins: I’m in Nashville yet. The best caves are so This part of my hand has Nashville. And then there’s like the smoky mountains and right in between, those is the geology where all the amazing caving happens. it kinda runs diagonally. It basically follows the Appalachian mountains like that.

Not directly, it’s more west of that because there’s not a lot of limestone in the Appalachians, but Cookeville, Sparta, Tennessee places that most people who’ve never heard of, they are amazing for caving. And they have caves that have like insanely beautiful formations and things.

It’s just, really mind blowing and there’s still cakes being found. Like all the time. So it’s pretty cool. We don’t have to drive that far. I mean, they’re fantastic kids all over the world, but I’m pretty lucky that I found that they’re like literally under us.

Gale Straub: Yeah. And GLG, or do you have a geology background or a science background

Ashley Adkins: No, I just love reading about it. I don’t understand a lot of it yet getting to work with the geologists this summer helped that a little bit more. Just like absorbing more of that information, but no more. I’m just an amateur. And we do a monthly meetings for our grottoes. So most grottos do different virtual meetings, especially thanks to COVID times and

there are some really amazing like scientists and other people that are able to like, share about like projects that they work on or like their thesis. And, the one I helped organize recently, a friend was talking about Katie and the grand canyon and like what geology was involved and he’s a hydrologist.

So just getting to listen to those things. Sometimes it’s like osmosis, you’re getting a little. In the meantime,

Gale Straub: That’s how I always feel just hanging out with my dad. Cause he loves to like stand on top of a mountain and tell me how everything was formed around me. I’m like, oh, that used to be a volcano. I love it. so I hear you on the osmosis piece.

It’s nice having a guide like that. So you can ask all kinds of nerdy questions, like what happened over here? Like what about.

Gale – Narration: yeah, totally. Last summer, Ashley took her love of caving one step further with what she calls “a dream job that she didn’t know existed.” I had no idea that you could get paid for caving. the funding came from AmeriCorps. It was through Montana conservation Corps. And I originally learned about it from. A friend that lives in California, she posted about it. And she works in land management and was basically encouraging other women were non-male identifiers to apply to this because more non-male people need to work in land management and just like in general and get more experience in that.

And it was just an, an add on the Montana conservation Corps website. It’s a collaboration between the us forest service, Custer, Gallatin, national forest, and BLM, billings field office. The assignment was called the Pryor Mountain Cave Inventory Project. The crew was tasked with an activity called “ridge walking” which is caver speek for hiking in rough terrain to follow limestone bedrock and hopefully inventory new caves.

Ashley Adkins: There is a cave crew. And this year was the first time we had a team lead. So that was our geologist and she was amazing. And then there was geo core intern. She had more of a background in history. and that, that can be interchangeable. I think they’re just trying to find the right fit for the team. You don’t have to be these. Backgrounds, except for the team lead. It definitely helps to know about geology.

Then there was a conservation fellow and she was a really, really strong climber and like the smallest of us. So she could like push tiny or spots and like get into caves, which was awesome. And then I was a conservation in turn, so I only. Filled that position for two and a half months, it was about 10 weeks.

So it was from mid June to mid August and they went from mid June to October. So they were there for a lot longer and they probably got more experience with just the process. Like the field work, just getting to get out more. and basically the cave team was out trying to find new caves or new cars to features, so that can include rock shelters or arches, basically anything where, we can’t see it from above you.

Like you can’t just like, look at LIDAR and like get that data. It could be like a recess inside a cliff face. And in that could have. Some type of significant features such as like minerals or geology or recreation, it could have like a potential for. Possibly tourism or even like biological, like if we were finding species that no one else has seen before, or scientists are wanting to be on the lookout for studies, we were going out and inventorying these.

So one by one, we would, every time we found a rock shelter, we would inventory it. And we had a little digital pad that we would log all this information on and the geo point as well. And that would go into our GIS so we can. Compile it with the last two years of cave crews as well. So we were literally out just looking for caves and that is what you call rich walking.

Gale Straub: Um, what level of like retracing your steps occurred, are you trying to rule out an area?

Ashley Adkins: So Uh, the area that we were working in was called the Pryor mountains. And it’s basically between like Yellowstone and then a big horn canyon, national recreation area. So it’s really close to Bighorn canyon. It’s kind of like right next to it.

And it sees two mountains that are kind of parallel they’re mostly limestone, the majority of them. So. You are using like geological maps. There is an app called rock it’s like R O C K D. And you can use it on your phone and it’ll show you the geological unit that you’re in. So we use that and then a few other tools to basically narrow down, like where have other teams not been?

And then when it was our turn, we were going to work on little Pryor mountain, and then there was a wildfire. On that mountain. So that kind of changed all of our plans. This was the theme of the, the summer was like, just adapt, keep to keep adapting many times we would make a plan and it would have to be changed.

Ashley Adkins: So being really, really adaptable and just trying to keep in mind. What areas do we think we’re going to have good luck in and how much time do we have, because it’s, it takes a long time to get out to those spaces. You would probably spend like two hours driving both ways on an ATV. And then once you get out there, you are using like Strava or Garmin, or like a Fitbit to just record where we were walking.

And then we, we would just go as far as. Within the time that we had decided as a group and then push pause whenever we were finished. And we would record that data every week. So we were not retracing, anything that we had done before. So we were trying to cover as much space as possible and record that like on Google maps, a lot of Google mapping was

Gale Straub: Hm.

Ashley Adkins: just keeping that in mind so that no one would ever have to do that again, once we did.

Gale Straub: when you look back to the summer, are there any like moments that stand out for you as I don’t know. Sometimes you just have these moments. You’re like, I’m where I’m supposed to be, you know?

Ashley Adkins: That’s a literally, there are multiple, I mean, when you’re working with a tiny group, you’re going to get tired of each other at some point. So even on days when we were like, I’m tired of you, please don’t talk to me anymore. It’s nothing personal. I was just like, as an introvert, need a break. I remember one day we were just like on ATVs on our like 45 minute ride down the mountain.

You’re covered in dust all the time. So you are dust. You’re just a part of you. But I remember thinking, like I could be sitting at a desk right now, like working at a desk job. And this is really awesome. Like getting to like drive by cows in this DLN land and like wild flowers.

Like this feels really special, little moments like that, where. driving eighties is not that exciting after a while, because at first you’re like, woo, this is awesome. And then after you do the same route over and over again, you’re like, alright, let’s go all right, 45 minutes to go. And like finally get up the mountain.

But yeah, there was one of those moments where I was like, this is a special, I’ll never get to do this again.

Gale – Narration: We’ll hear more from Ashley, after this.

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Ashley Adkins: We’re back. Ashley shared what was special about being on an all- women ridge-walking team inventorying new caves after spending much of her time in male-dominated caver spaces.it was a really cool experience because most of the time when I’m caving with, guys, they are, they’re really focused on like covering a lot of ground really quickly doing things fast and not to say that safety is ever being like, sacrificed. If there’s like rope work involved, like people are very efficient, It’s a little bit more about like being in the moment when I was around these ladies. So even if we were tired and like we were covered in dust all the time, like we were really excited to find fossils and like recording all of these things. And even many of these games were just covered in Marmot poop, which is not really that exciting, not, not something significant to make it, a cave nomination.

Gale Straub: Hm.

Ashley Adkins: It was still exciting. Cause we were. We were in there, like looking at like the fossils in the walls, or like, there was a lot of calcite crystals. So getting to just like, hang out with the ladies and, and like nerd out about Chrysalis was really fun. It’s different. I mean, it’s hard to explain yet when I try to talk to guy cavers about affinity groups and they seem a little dumbfounded, like why would chicks want to cave with other Schicks like, you’re always invited.

It doesn’t have to be a chick trip. And I’m like, all right, first of all, like, you don’t have to use that word.

Gale Straub: No, it’s just like, even the way the questions phrase, it’s like, oh, okay, You answered it yourself.

Ashley Adkins: okay, this is where you’re coming from. Like, like maybe if you’ve ever not been around other people that feel like you, you might want to do that more.

Gale Straub: Hmm.

Ashley Adkins: yeah, just keeping that in mind, it was really special and like intentional. And we could just like nerd out in our own ways, which was nice. We didn’t really feel like we had to.

The really strong and tough. Not that does really being pushed on me, but it feels like an undertone. It’s more like an implicit thing.

Gale Straub: Um,

Ashley Adkins: Hmm.

Gale Straub: was it hard to leave at the end? Especially when the project, it was continuing on.

Ashley Adkins: Yes. I was ready to come home cause I do have a partner and like our cats and I have a big garden at home, but I felt like I’d finally gotten really good at that job when it was time to go. dang it,

this feels

Gale Straub: Oh, that is the way it goes, right? Like two months is like your, you hit the sweet spot where you’re like, I’m uncomfortable. I get it. I’m moving forward. Then you’re like, oh, I’m getting on a plane.

Ashley Adkins: Especially after like Coran times where it was just kind of this like vast ocean of time with no real goal. And that kind of felt really daunting. And this was finally something where I felt like I’m really good at this. And, and like, even though the more like interpersonal sides are challenging because we’re such a small group and we were spending all of our time today.

And living together, it was still, still really special. So even in those tough moments, I had to remember, like, I’m never going to get to do this again, so I need to soak it up. So yes, it was tough to leave.

Gale Straub: Hmm. Do you think you’ll do outdoor work again in the future or?

Ashley Adkins: I think. So I would love to find some balance between like field work and outreach and. Education. I actually worked in fashion for like 10 years, and then I would listen to Sheetz floors while I sewed for a cleaning company, like 10 hours a day, or not always 10 hours a day. And then I was like, I need to do this for the living.

Like I spend all my time doing this when I’m not here. And it kind of felt like a double life of. Fashion and like being outdoorsy. And now it’s finally what I’m doing most of the time. So yes, I would love to work outside, seasonally or if I can find something permanent, that will be awesome.

Some combination of those things would be amazing and caming would be a bonus. There are not very many caving jobs, so that was really special to me.

Gale Straub: Yeah.

What are some of those things that you would say to someone who, who might be on the fence about trying caving?

Ashley Adkins: Yeah, I think the most common response I get from people when I mentioned that I’m a caver is, oh, I could never do that. I can’t do small spaces. And while I understand. R culture has made us think of like caving means like you’re going to crawl in a tiny space all the time.

It’s not necessarily like that. There are a lot of really accessible caves that are huge. Like you could fly a plane into them. And granted, every state is different. Tennessee is really fortunate. So Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, they call it tag. that is an area that has just thousands of caves. And they’re huge.

So you don’t have to worry about claustrophobia, just be more focused on like safety.

Gale Straub: yeah, yeah. Definitely.

So there is a serious amount of leave, no trace in it. Like we’re planning ahead and we’re preparing, we are like, we bring P bottles with us. Like when we go on really long trips, like, you don’t want to do that in a cave because it’s not going to go anywhere. So there is, there’s a pretty, pretty significant amount of like leave no trace without even thinking about it.

Ashley Adkins: It’s just kind of built in, which is awesome. So, yeah, the, I think the claustrophobia is the biggest one though, is most people they get anxious and most of the time we’ve heard about caving. It’s more of like a, you should be scared of this kind of narrative and it doesn’t have to be.

Gale – Narration: These underground caves aren’t just geological formations created over time, they’re also home to many. what are those animals that you might see like In the Tennessee. area there are cave crickets, which can freak people out, but they’re harmless and they’re kind of cute. Once you get to know them and they just have their little antennas and like, they’re not going to hurt you. They’re just like hopping around doing their thing. And there are a cave salamanders, which are bright orange and they are adorable, especially when you find little baby ones that are like this big

Gale Straub: Oh,

Ashley Adkins: They the larvae, they live in little, little pools of water. So you, if you’re like quiet and, you kind of like approach a pool gracefully, you can spot the babies like in the springtime, a lot of different kinds of bats. We mostly have, A little back called a PIP struggle here, which they’re really small.

They’re only like this big and they are so cute and they don’t want anything to do with you. So like they’re never going to attack you unless you like try to do something to them, but they’re just like sleeping and there they’re just these little cute little false balls hanging from the ceiling. we definitely try to be aware of.

The roosting habits of bats. Like if they’re gray bats, we don’t want to go during the mating season and then like maternity season. Cause they only have one pup. And if you go in the cave and scare them and they drop that baby, they’re not going to have another. And that baby’s probably not going to survive.

So, we love to see them, but we also love to like respect their stuff. As well. And then there, of course, a lot of, smaller things like these little, bugs called isopods and they’re little, teeny tiny bugs that live in the water and stuff. So all kinds of different things. It depends on like the level that you’re focused on.

Like you could be looking up, you can be looking like around you and then like down is very different depending on the cave itself.

what is the first step, in terms of like finding places around you and also people, cause you said you need two other people.

Gale Straub: So,

Ashley Adkins: here.

Gale Straub: if you are a beginner, that’s a consideration.

Ashley Adkins: I would say if you’ve never been to a cave, like go to a showcase and that could be like mammoth cave, something that’s developed, um, mammoth or Carlsbad. There are a lot of like more, mom and pop style caves, especially in Kentucky they have a lot of history with that. If you’ve never been in a cave ever, like start there.

So there’s usually like a walkway or an elevator and it’s more accessible, especially someone, So one is disabled. They can still go see these really awesome places and get a tour. And there’s lighting’s, you don’t have to worry about gear. And then if you do decide that you want to. Go off the beaten path underground and do a more like wild cave style.

I would recommend getting in touch with a local grotto. So they’re all over the country. There are like thousands of cavers that have, uh, tons of different clubs and they sometimes rent out gear. So if you let them know, like I’m a new caver, I want to get in on. They usually will host like beginner’s trips.

So it’s just a great way to meet new people and people that are of different, skill levels. Like sometimes my partner and I like to host those trips just so we can spend more time with like newer people that have no idea what they’re doing yet. And they aren’t really sure if they’re into this, but they just want to meet people in and do something fun and get exercise.

So starting with a grotto is really great. There is some gatekeeping in terms of information for caves. It’s very secretive. Every state has a different, different kind of, decision on how they hold on to that information. And the grotto is the best place to get access. So like in Tennessee, there is an organization called the Tennessee case survey and like, we have to have two people vouch for us to go.

Become a member to that. And it isn’t awesome. It’s definitely like a history that has, it’s very nuanced. There’s a lot of details to it. Oh yeah. There’s a, there’s a ton of secrecy in gatekeeping. And yet also there are still so many caves and we care about them. We want to conserve them. We don’t want people to just like go in and like hurt the bats or like try to harass the other animals or throw trash historically, a lot of singles.

In Tennessee, we’re trash pits. So, yeah, that is a thing to be aware of as well.

Gale Straub: Yeah, it’s a delicate balance. I mean, it’s like, a lot of natural places and it’s something that the outdoor communities really growing through or figuring out how to invite more people in well. maintaining What makes that place places special?

So what I hear over and over again Is.

ideally the more people get involved more, the more people care and the more people are going to want to, to help protect these caves in the future. And also continue to up that. You know, the number of people who are members of the grottoes and like

supporting that.

Cause I imagine there’s like some, some fees that you pay to help keep like organizations like this going. So, Yeah.

it’ll be interesting to see how, those communities navigate that over time.

Ashley Adkins: Definitely it’s a, it’s a delicate balance for sure. We can start some really intense polarizing conversations between like caters or like land management people. So both sides. And there’s kind of like a, there’s kind of a disconnect and it doesn’t have to be, Montana’s a really great example. Management agencies working together with the Northern Rocky mountain grotto, they help each other.

And that was a really awesome thing to see out there. Cause I, I just haven’t seen that before. I wasn’t even aware that that was a thing that could happen. So more collaboration is better for everybody.

Gale – Narration: As you can tell, Ashley is really passionate about caving. And she wants to spread the word.

Ashley Adkins: I don’t know, I would just love to hear more, more cavers in general.

And there are a lot of a ton of ladies out there. They’re doing amazing stuff. Some of them are way more hardcore than me. They like map all kinds of caves. So they do a thing called dome climbing or bull climbing. And you’re basically like setting bolts as far as you can reach. And then he set a bolt and he’s you make a little loop of basically webbing. They step into that and then they make a bowl higher up and that’s how they climb domes. Like the one that I mentioned earlier, it’s kind of like its own extreme sport. It’s very niche. I’m not into it. Cause I get way too freaked out when I’m in like really tall places.

Like if it gets over like a hundred feet, I start getting a little like anxious, sweaty, but there are ladies out there who do that, and that is amazing. there are other women who they focus more on, like the. The society side of it. So they’re doing a lot in terms of like Jedi practices and just helping us like reframe where we are and where we want to be.

And then there are people like Hazel Barton, who do the like amazing science and like the grand canyon or let tricky and stuff. So there’s just so many different directions. I get too excited about it when I talk really fast. So

Gale Straub: Now there’s so many different worlds to discover. I love it. It’s

Ashley Adkins: yeah, it’s amazing.

Gale Straub: yeah.

Ashley Adkins: there’s cave diving too. Like that is a whole different sport. Jill Heiner earth is a really amazing lady cave, diver, and I just love listening to her interviews and like reading her book and stuff. So that is a world that will never go into, I think it’s amazing. It’s not for me.

Like, that’s a totally different thing. Well also, okay.

Gale Straub: Awesome. well, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me about this for reaching out about it. I’m just happy to talk about caving to anybody who wants to listen. So thank you so much for talking to me.

Love that.

Gale – Narration: If you’re interested in learning more about the Cave Crew position, I’ve linked the Montana Conservation Corps application page. This year’s deadline is coming up on March 6th, but it’ll likely get renewed for 2023.

Thanks again to Ashley Adkins for taking the time to talk. You can find Ashley on Instagram @ashandirons. Also, I wanted to share a.special thanks to Rachel aka @petzlprincess on Instagram for encouraging Ashley to submit.

All resources are linked in the show notes.

If you enjoyed this episode, I know you’ll love “Shining a Light on Caving” featuring Katt Greaser.

Thanks to our sponsors Indeed for making this episode possible. Discount codes are linked in the show notes.

You can find She Explores on social media, our website, and wherever you listen to podcasts. Subscribe to our biweekly newsletter to stay up to date! You can find me on Instagram @galestraub.

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Music in this episode is licensed through MusicBed. This episode was produced and hosted by me, Gale Straub.

She Explores is a production of Ravel Media. We’ll be back in two weeks. Until next time, stay curious.

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