The story behind Jacob’s Well
When somebody mentions Texas to you, your first thought usually is of a dry, arid state, maybe with a cinematic tumbleweed tumbling across the landscape. Seldom do you think of a cool, refreshing well, full of clear, inviting water. That’s exactly what Jacob’s Well is though and a whole lot more. It is a spring located in the Texas Hill Country area (northwest of Wimberley), that originates from the bed of Cypress Creek, a stream that spans a major part of Texas. It is fed by the Trinity Aquifer. While you might be tempted to pull out your swimmings shorts and car keys to take a dip, you should know how dangerous it really is to take a chance at faring the depths of Jacob’s Well. While it might seem mighty inviting, the spring has a dark past, consisting of numerous deaths and even more near-death experiences.
Why is a mere spring considered so dangerous?
To get a sense of how terrifying Jacob’s Well is, I’d urge you to call up a mental image of a narrow cave or cavern, with a small opening and even smaller passage. It’s dark, damp and you barely have any sense of direction beyond the first 50 or so yards after the entrance. Sunlight is never to be found, there is a constant feeling of claustrophobia and a growing dread of the treacherous floor of the cavern, as you take slow, tentative steps to maintain footing. Now picture this cavern turned 90 degrees and filled up with water. This is the landscape that divers who venture into the depths of the water cave see all around them.
The opening to the spring is quite narrow in the first place (about three and a half meters in diameter). Even with such a small opening, adrenaline junkies often attempt to jump straight into the spring’s entrance from a nearby outcropping.
It only gets worse the deeper you go. Jacob’s Well cave goes down vertically for about 9 meters (30 feet), then goes on at a downward angle through a series of silted chambers separated by narrow restrictions, measuring up to an average depth of 37 meters (120 feet). After the initial few meters of descent, sunlight tapers off and the only thing penetrating the murky depths will be the lone beam of your flashlight or head mounted light.
There are about 4 joint caverns underwater. Some of their entrances are so narrow that a diver can’t make it through with an oxygen tank strapped to their backs. Even after getting past the openings, some sections are narrow enough that diver’s unknowingly scrape their lower halves or bang their tanks on the rocky ceilings and floors.
You can get a firsthand look at what it’s like to open dive in Jacob’s Well in the video below –
Over the years, the famous tourist destination has reported over 9 confirmed deaths. Most of these were due to inexperienced adventure seekers, who weren’t trained in the specific procedures and techniques required for cave diving in a location this dangerous. Another reason would be the lack of usage of specialised equipment that should be used while cave diving.
The ghastliest case was in 1979, when two young Texans got lost in one of the caves and drowned. One of the young men’s remains were flushed out two years later in 1981 and the other diver’s remains in 2000.
Should you visit Jacob’s Well?
Due to the perilous nature of the spring and its adjoining cave, recreational scuba diving is prohibited. If you’re not an adventure seeker though, and want to just escape the brutal Texan heat, and frolic around the cool waters of the spring, you can. Jacob’s Well is a tourist hotspot and you may make a reservation to swim there at any time between 10 am to 6 pm. You and your family or friends will be allotted a maximum of two hours for one reservation.
As long as you’re aware of the dangers and stay well and safe near the opening, you should have a fun experience.
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