Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ape Cave Spelunking

Thirty years ago today, Mt. St. Helen's blew her top in a fit of pent up frustration!  Here's a video of the eruption and it's aftermath... http://www.kgw.com/news/Mt-St-Helens/mt_st_helens_may_18th_eruption_kgw_aircheck-93469459.html  It's an hour long, but just watch the first five minutes or so if you don't have time to watch the whole thing. 

When you see the rivers in the video, know that the trees and vegetation that were obliterated are still gone.  The Toutle River itself only flows through a small portion of the 1/2 mile wide valley of destruction.  The rest of it is... a sort of sand, I guess--remnants of an exploded mountain.

This past Saturday, we finally made it to the ever popular Ape Cave. At just seven miles south of Mt. St. Helen's, it's an hour and a half drive from our house.

The drive itself was gorgeous... wildflowers, light green growth on all the trees, swollen creeks and waterfalls slipping down the walls of rock on the sides of the road. And the always breathtaking site of Mt. St. Helen's...

And then the cave itself was phenomenal! Technically a lava tube, its an anomaly around the volcanoes in the Cascade Mountain Range.

Some volcanoes, like those in Hawaii, erupt with fluid lava.  When others, like the many in the Cascades, erupt, the lava cools and hardens so quickly that we don't see the typical "hot lava".

Ape Cave is proof that Mt. St. Helen's, at one time, somehow erupted fluid lava and this lava tube was created by it snaking its way underground.

At over a mile long, there's a hard way and an easy way to go.  We took the easy way, which is actually longer.

Don't let the light in these photos fool you.  It was all from the camera flash. There's no natural light. Zero. Zippo. It is so black that you can't see your hand immediately in front of your face.  It was kinda spooky, but also really amazing.

And it was cold down there!  The average temp is 42 degrees.  And the farther in you go, the colder and windier it is.  We came prepared, as you can see in the photo of Emma below. Winter jackets and hats were the desired attire. (Although we did see plenty of people in shorts, tank tops and flip flops.  Seriously, did those people not do any research?)

The cave dissolved into the ground about 3/4 mile from the opening.  It just got shorter and shorter and shorter.  In the photo above, Scott is watching Hayley see how far she can go. 

She didn't get far 'cause she hit her head on the rock ceiling. Hhhhmmmm...

We can't wait to take my brother, Will, and his boys to Ape Cave when they come to visit this summer.  We'd be happy to take anyone else who comes to visit us! (hint hint hint) :)

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