What we thought was the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be anything but that.
The closer we got the harder it was to breathe. Outside there must have been a bush fire that wasn’t there when we went spelunking.
It had been an arduous time. A lot of crawling through small spaces and a lot of water to negotiate.
So the thought of coming out into the fresh air had a lot of appeal until we began to sense the smoke finding its way down into the spaces we were in.
We knew we had to try and get out as there would be nothing to breathe before long.
So with a concerted effort we crawled once again, forgot about the pain of scrapped knees and elbows but focused on the space ahead now rapidly filling with smoke.
All the way we were aware of each other and realising for each of us this was a monumental effort of endurance far greater than what we had achieved down under the ground.
With encouragement we made our way to the surface. By then we were all coughing and gasping. Outside the entrance the air was thick with smoke but there were pockets of clean air, enough for us to make it to safety away from the smouldering remains of our favourite bushland.
All of us were affected by the smoke, we sat around drawing in deep breathes hoping to get the smoke out of our lungs. We knew we’d experienced a close thing, if the fire had been over the cave entrance when we tried to come out, the outcome may have been a lot different.