18 Jan Ape Cave Lava Tubes
As we all know January in Oregon is not always the most ideal weather for hiking. We were trying to think of clever hike ideas to escape a torrential downpour. Hot springs could be fun, we thought, but Bagby is for newbs. Well, what about caves!? Now that’s an adventurous idea, pitch darkness, mostly likely bats, possibly run into R.O.U.S.’s (Rodents of Unusual Sizes), and most importantly, we are sheltered from the rain!
Or so we thought. We decided to go check out Ape Cave, the caves were formed by hot molten lava when Mt. Saint Helens erupted. The weekend we went there was a weather advisory for lots of rain, and snow in the mountains. Friends who have been to Ape Caves in the past during the winter said we would have to hike through snow to get to the entry point. ‘All the more reason to go!’ We said. So we packed up all our warmest gear, borrowed a jeep, and brought enough food incase we got stuck for a while.
It was comical, really. Barely any snow around. But, it is always better to be prepared for the worst, is it not?
It was raining though, and the in the caves it seemed to be raining even more, all that water seeping through the ground and plopping right on that one-spot-on-your-neck-that-makes-you-shiver-down-your-spine. And a nice little river that we followed and splashed through all the way till the end. So we learned, caves = not dry. We dressed warm though, so we didn’t mind. And all the water falling from the ceiling, along with the trickling of the river, sounded incredible amplified off the cave walls. If you are into sound art, seriously go here and make some recordings. There were moments when we turned off all our lights and just experienced the space with all of our other senses. Then we broke out the laser!
It is a cave, so it was very dark and difficult to get great photos, but you get the idea, it was awesome, and lasers are the best. We crawled up into a tiny place at the end (that sadly had graffiti on the walls) to have a little snack break and experience some more total darkness. It was interesting that you could feel you were in a small enclosure, even though you couldn’t see that the space was different then when turned off all the lights before. Your body can sense more then you think it can.
And out back into the light of the world. A change of clothes, hot cider and whisky awaiting us back in the car to warm up our soaking bodies. We only explored the lower cave this time, but we plan to go back when it’s not so wet and slippery to explore the upper cave, it’s suppose to be a bit more of a strenuous excursion!
Forever Onward- Escape Collective