Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Cave on Skull Rock

Lurking around dark caves, swinging on live bamboo, crossing murky swamps, its all okay, as “Adventure” is my middle-name, funny, it has nothing to do with an X-Box, a PlayStation 1-2-3, or an Atari. As kids we were budding explorers. If there was danger, you better believe we were on it. None of this hiding behind a large screen of glass with a controller and a coke – we did our own stunts! Please note that I did not say intelligent stunts.

One of these stunts occurred in Okinawa, Japan. A place on Kadena Air Force Base, which housed a huge rock, a place we all knew as “Skull Rock.” Kadena’s U.S. military history dates back to just before the April 1945 invasion of Okinawa. A local construction firm completed a small airfield named Yara Hikojo near the village of Kadena. Why is this important? Because as children we were told to stay out of caves as they may have unexploded ordinance (UXO) in them. Did this stop us? No way, it made us search even harder, for hidden treasure and adventure. We dreamed of uncovering military rifles, knives, uniforms, Japanese insignia, grenades and much, much more.

Note: If you don’t believe me when I mention there is still unexploded ordinance, affecting many lives in a negative way, please take a close look at Cambodia. If there is one affected, then that is one too many.

Matt Smith (there are so many, I can’t even locate him), my brother Dave, and I were as close as the Three Stooges and just as foolish, if this is even possible. We always egged each other on and on. We pushed the envelope to the point of being beyond stupid sometimes, but we sure experienced thrills and fun.

On one occasion, we cut our way through the boonies (jungle growth) and climbed up the rock ledges to the top of Skull Rock. Have you been there? In fact, we used to lay up at the top of Skull Rock and attempt to photograph the SR-171 Spy plane, nicknamed the Habu (the most dangerous imported snake on the island), with our 110 millimeter cameras. It generally looked like a piece of dust photographed while floating in mid air.

At the top of “Skull Rock” there was a cave. Inside the cave we discovered a few small entrances, which opened to bigger areas and we went deeper and deeper into the interior of the cave. I can tell you that I would not fit into the holes we climbed through today, nearly 30 years later. We broke every rule in the book of The National Speleological Society (NSS) except the travel in groups of three.

"Leave Nothing but Footprints, Take Nothing but Pictures, Kill Nothing but Time"

What did we forget?

We didn’t listen to our parents or the warnings

We didn’t tell anyone where our exploring would take place

We didn’t have a good light source we used a flashlight and matches

We didn’t use helmets

We didn’t have a water source

We didn’t have any food

We didn’t have boots, we wore tennis shoes

We basically didn’t do anything correctly, but we sure had fun

Yesterday’s Warning: Tell people where you will be seeking some adventure, so they know where to start looking if you don’t come home.

Check out these links for more information Cave Safety Tips: or learn more about Caves and even More Spelunker Tips:

Today’s Warning: Please turn off the television when your adventure is over!

3 comments:

levar said...

I just thought I'd mention that I know of Skull Rock and actually came across your page looking for any mention of Skull Rock on the web. I lived in a cul-de-sac not too far from the rock around 82-83. I was in kindergarten/first grade and was chased off skull rock by many a teenager. haha. thanks for the memories.

hcpope said...

Totally been in skull rock back in like 2000-2002 ish, best hang out spot for my friends and I. great times and memories, okinawa japan was awesome!

hcpope said...

Totally been to and through skull rock when i was a young child back in the early 2000-2002ish time, rockin hangout spot for my friends, we have had lots of fun times there. Love Oki!