This may (or may not) be made of iron but I have a story to tell.
When I was young (and old--because we still make the annual expedition) my family--Grandparents and cousins included, would pack up all that we needed (and more!) for a week long "get-away" to Bear Lake, Idaho--more specifically, St. Charles Canyon. This week was dedicated to family time. It was spent hanging out at the beach, playing endless rounds of cards (victory was mine!--most of the time), hiking and exploring the beauty around us, sitting around a campfire and enjoying the presence of each other and a visit to Minnetonka Cave.
I hold close these annual weeks away with my family and I believe they have contributed to the person I am today (and not just my mean carding skills). There are many different reasons for this--so many. But, this story is about one of those visits to the cave. It has been told before, many times. It will be told again...and again.
First, some details about Minnetonka Cave. This cave is located at the top (via a very narrow, very winding road--with lots of loose gravel--just ask my bro Brian about that!) of St. Charles Canyon. It was discovered in 1907 by some bird (I think) hunters. It was opened to the public in 1947 with guided tours. The Forest Department added improvements like the above pictured railing and a lighted path as well as a tour guide. The tour guide (usually a youngster with his first summer job) leads your group about a 1/2 mile along a path. This path is not straight and easy to travel. It contains 890 stairs--some to climb, some to descend. In some places it is narrow with a drop off, and in some places you have to duck so as to not hit your head on the cave ceiling. Did I mention that the path is also slippery? It is a "live" cave, meaning, well, that is is alive--still changing--still wet. It is not uncommon to get dripped on from above and the path is wet--which means it is slippery. Thus, the reason for the railings. Oh, it is also cold--about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words--It is a blast!
When I was of the very tender and impressionable age of 10ish we grabbed our jackets and jumped into our vehicles to make the trek up to the cave. We--for reasons I do not remember, were rushed to make it before the cave closed. (This is where memory is a weird animal because I can remember what time the caved closed--4:30.) We did however, make it--maybe not before the official closing time, but still the tour guide agreed to let us go. This made us the last group of the day going through the cave. This also made us a small group, made up of my family and just a few (2-4) others.
One of the drop offs. This is called: the Devil's Office (ooww, spooky--it was to a 10ish year old girl)
After traversing the path and site seeing all that the cave had to offer (as well as having cold slimmy hands from using the hand rail) we made it to the back of the cave--the wedding room. (Named for the bride stalgmite waiting for her groom stalactite.)
In this room the tour guide told us that (s)he would turn off the lights and let us experience total darkness. I wasn't sure why we would want to experience total darkness but who was I to be contrary. And wow (!) was it dark!! I can vividly remember waving my hand in front of my face and not being able to see it at all. I can remember the feeling that I still get to this day when I am in the dark--a claustrophobic type feeling. A panic to be able to see some light. But at this time I knew that the tour guide was going to turn the lights back on--I had been here before, I could last until she turned them back on. I waited for her to turn them back on. I waited some more, I started to anxious. I heard her 'flip the switch', but what I heard and what I saw (or more accurately didn't see) did not make sense. The lights did not turn back on. We were still in the dark. A couple of nervous giggles were heard--from my Mom? maybe my Dad? Again the tour guide flipped the switch--nothing. I think she used her 'walkie-talkie' and no one responded. It was in that moment that I realized the lights were not going to come back on--at least not for a while. (What?!! No lights?!!) The tour guide then explained that she could not get the lights back on for some unforeseen reason. She gave our group 2 choices. 1) we could stay in the wedding room--in complete and total darkness, while she hiked back out and turned the lights back on from the outside, or 2) hike back out in the dark with only the railing to guide us. As a 10ish year old girl I was not asked what I thought was best, but the group did decide to hike back out--in the dark.
In all fairness to the story the guide did have a flashlight, but it did not provide much light to the back of the pack. We were in the dark. Truth be told, we only had the railing. (of course I had my parents to help, but they were clinging tight to that railing.) We made it out. But we made it out because we never deviated from that rail. We didn't ever say: " I don't really need this rail--I know the way myself", or: "holding onto the railing is so boring--I will just jump off for a minute then come right back". Sometimes holding onto the railing was hard--it was cold. But I would have rather have had experienced that uncomfortableness for the moment then be lost for longer--in the dark.
I think often of this adventure. It reminds me to keep holding onto the railing--the iron rod--the word of God.
".....and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree." 1 Ne. 8:24