Ape Cave popped off the page at us. What are apes doing on the south side of Mt St Helen’s?
We’d better go find out!
We spent our first afternoon around Mt St Helen’s up at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Which was great, giving us a feel for the land and some understanding of what we were looking at in this environment effected repeatedly by the eruption of the mountain.
The caves were about 40 miles from Woodland, WA up highway 503. We left our bus parked at an empty church parking lot near the Toutle River with a note in the window explaining who we are and why we were parked in their lot. Our business card was attached. Then we drove the van the rest of the way, taking the hills easy with our van full of 8 of us.
Everybody should ideally have their own flashlight. Or better yet, a headlamp when going caving. But honestly, we weren’t about to miss out on this opportunity just because we only had 3 headlamps and 2 phones with flashlights.
Or because Anders was wearing flip flops. Geesh, who lets their kids go spelunking in flip flops? He got razzed this day! This kid lives in either barefoot or flip flops. Getting him into something else is near impossible.
This day was a total oversight. Everybody knew we were going spelunking. Us parents neglected to make sure everybody knew that entailed wearing close-toed shoes.
And had an excellent time.
We did the lower caves which is a round trip of 3/4 mile. It takes a bit more than an hour to do; its much longer stumbling around in the dark than on a regular trail. But easy enough even for younger kids.
Water dripped from the cave ceiling. We traipsed through shallow puddles and sandy mud. And we ended with a big surprise…crawling on hands and knees into a room not much larger than the 8 of us could easily fit. It was a great experience to share together, even for a family of various ages and fitness levels.
We are now desperately in need of getting our laundry washed once we arrive at our daughter’s in Portland. Tomorrow.
The older kids went on to explore the beginnings of the upper cave, branching off from the same set of stairs that led us down into the upper cave. They explored the beginnings of this cave. They saw enough to know…next time they’ll be better prepared for more exploration all around Mt St Helen’s.
This is a Come Again place.
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