August 14th, 2005

jay-China-avatar

Of cave apes and calderas

Went to Ape Cave today with tillyjane and the Child. We set out around 7 am, made it to the Cave around 9:30 (after a breakfast stop). After brief shenanigans involving annoying dogs in a parked truck, and changing our clothes to go down to the 46 degree underground, we made the short hike to the entrance. According to the sign, it was discovered in 1950 by a guy who almost drove his tractor into the hole. It's the longest uncollapsed lava tube in the lower 48. We climbed down in, hiked the mile or so downward til the tube runs out..filled with sand from a lahar in about 1400 A.D. -- I imagine the tube goes on, and there's a strong draft down there. Hiked back. Good fun had by all, the Child had a cute headlamp provided by tillyjane, and we took turns playing with light, shadow and darkness, as well as bouncing echoes in the tube. Oh, and the soles of my hiking boots delaminated almost completely.

A couple of photos here.

Back up top, tillyjane said, "I feel like a million bucks." The Child replied: "You're made of paper?"

Heh.

Time permitted, so we made an extension of our trip to the Windy Ridge overlook, which is one of the two viewpoints where the active crater at Mount St. Helen's can be viewed. It's a long, slow, scenic drive, and we stopped for a quick (expensive) lunch at a little concession restaurant up on one of the ridges. Got to the overlook in time to hear an interesting talk from a Forest Ranger about the eruption, and about the recent changes in the mountain. The Child wanted to hike up this enormous slope with a stepped trail -- we, of course, had prepare for caving, not walking on exposed rock in 90+ degree weather, so did not have sunscreen, hats, etc. Nonetheless, up we went. The Child scampered up and down whilst us old folks felt every foot of it in our bones.

A wonderful time was had by all. Ice cream on the way back, and took a highway new to me down through Battleground, WA, where I spotted a folk-art rendering of the Golden Gate bridge, about 40 feet across. I have to go back and photograph that. Home again home again...