Sunday, August 4, 2013

Summer Travels ~ Ape Caves Washington

The Ape Cave lava tube in Washington State is the longest lava tube in the good ol' USA. This lava tube was formed by a Mt. St. Helen's eruption nearly 2000 years ago (that's a long time ago). If you start at the beginning and work your way all the way to the end, you will complete just over two miles of cave exploration: including scaling an 8 foot lava fall and climbing over massive boulders, all in the dark. Well, with a 3 year old and a 6 year old, we decided NOT to do the entire cave. We (myself, my younger brother and his wife, Maggie) explored the bottom half (which eliminated the 8 foot lava fall much to the dismay of my older two). Nearly a mile, deep into the lava tube, belly crawling to reach the very end of the cave. Yes, this is the excitement we Johnsons love. Dressed for winter in the middle of the summer, we set out. Once inside the cave, there is no outside light source and temperatures drop to 40 degrees and below. With flashlights and head lamps fully functioning (although threatening at times to give out), we conquered the lower ape cave lava tube.

Entering the "belly crawl" zone. Before this point, the cave is massive. The end is a little tight but definitely worth the effort.

 Even my dear little (well younger) brother crawled into the cavern in the back with us. But not before he took a picture of me and Cami making our way to the back of the cave (what a great shot of my VivoBarefoot test shoes).

We did it! (except we still have the hike back out)

Lots of really cool stalactites and stalagmites: enter science lesson here. 

I recommend only taking little ones on the lower cave. The upper cave is considered very difficult and dangerous for young children. Also, I packed my three year old on my back until we got to the end of the cave. My other three children (10, 8, and 6)walked it and had no problems.

Those of you who live in Washington or Northern Oregon, please take the time to explore these caves. Children of all ages will enjoy it, and so will you!