Even though school was starting the next day, we decided to live it up on the last day of summer break. Our friends invited us to join them on a day trip down to the Ape Caves (near Mt. St. Helens). So glad we went...they were so cool!
It was about a 2 hour drive south and east, so we left at 7am to make the most of the day.
Ok, the ape caves: They are 2000 year old long tunnels through lava beds....i.e. lava tubes. Something about how the lava cooled on the surface vs. underground...something, something. And there you have it, a "cave". I clearly was very into the science. Whoops. There are two paths, the upper cave and the lower cave. The upper caves includes more climbing and crawling, so we didn't opt for that one with the little ones. But the lower cave was a fairly easy and flat hike, .75 miles in and then turn around and go back.
It's a constant 42 degrees in the cave year round and pitch black. So we had our sweatshirts (should've brought gloves!) and flashlights, glowsticks, and head lamps.
Carson was obviously so excited to be in this picture.
Descending down the staircase to the entrance of the cave.
At the cave entrance.
We had an optional tour guide for the first little bit of the hike, but the little boys were so fussy that I didn't get much out of it. In fact, Rylan was terrible (too tired from getting up early) and Miles was apparently starving. So Trevor turned around about .5 miles in and headed back with them. The big kids and I went to the end. Sometimes it is just divide and conquer.
The camera flash captures some of the cave walls in the pictures below, but you couldn't see this detail while walking. It really was so dark. I was glad the kids had glow sticks on them. It helped keeping track of them! Luckily there is only one trail, so even though it's dark, there is no where to get lost.
Rylan and Ethan checking out the cave ceiling.
We made it to the end. The cave angles down to a point.
It took us a while to warm up after the hike (took about 1.5 hours...we were seriously slow, you should be able to do it in half that time). And it would be fun to come back with the bigger kids and do the upper cave with more climbing. It was something so cool to do as a family on Labor Day. We live near some awesome places and what's more fun than a legit cave to hike in and explore??
We had packed a lunch and found a gorgeous spot nearby to stop and play. It was right along the Lewis River. The water was beckoning the kids, so they stripped down to their undies to jump in. This was right near where I used to go swimming as a teenager (Merwin Dam)...the water was just warm enough to have a little fun. Luckily just our group of families were around to see the kids in their undies.
Okay, now to the first day of school....Whew! What a summer!