We crossed over the Columbia River and into Washington. I don't know why but I felt like we were driving into the wilds of Canada (perhaps it was because we grew up near the Niagara River where the "other side" was always Canada), It was the source of much ribbing from Dave but I overlooked his good natured teasing, he has other good qualities.
The countryside was beautiful, lots of dairy cattle grazing in lush fields, free range chickens pecking in their safely fenced pens, tall pines and the rushing White Salmon River. As is our custom, we stopped for lunch beside the river before continuing on our trek.
We entered the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and found the parking lot on FR 24 empty except for a group of workers enjoying their lunch on a nearby picnic table. Just the way we like it.
We donned our sweatshirts, hiking boots and carried our headlights onto the forest path. The Guler Ice Caves were not far away and they were our destination. The forest floor was carpeted with soft needles and there were lots of wildflowers along the way.
By the time we walked the short distance to the entrance we were sweating but we could feel fingers of very cold air reaching toward our feet. The closer we got, the higher the cold crept.
The entry point was just a large hole in the forest floor. Luckily a set of wooden steps made our descent into the frigid cave easy.
|down we go|
We had to crawl over (or slide down) a large drift of snow directly at the bottom of the staircase to continue deeper into the cave system.
The only available light was around the entry stairs - the rest of the cave was pitch black. And, it was very very cold.
|my view sans headlamp|
It was so cold that if we could have seen our breath, we would have seen our breath! We clicked on our headlamps and the light they threw only made me dizzy and unsure of my steps. I felt like a little child just learning to walk. I'm glad no one could see me, I was stumbling and crashing around like a drunk.
It was very disconcerting to say the least.
When the floor was flat it was still full of little bumps that had me stubbing my toes and tripping. The rest of the cave was littered with boulders of differing sizes and patches and chunks of ice.
Taking pictures in a dark, cold cave is not an easy thing, as you can see from the "quality" of these shots. Certainly a more professional camera and lights are needed to do it justice. I just wanted to try and capture the feeling of the place for you.
I don't know how long we explored the cave but I do know we were very cold! It was hard to believe that just above us it was 100 degrees.
What a cool experience that was. We've never been in a cave before and I'm not sure I'll do it again without a better light. I would have liked to explore much further but was afraid I'd fall and break something - either my phone or my camera or my hip! At any rate, we achieved our goal of finding a cool place to explore.
We took a different path back to the Jeep, past a small opening with frigid air blowing out of it. It must have been another entrance to the cave....I wonder how many more there were?
Once we got back to the Jeep we decided to go a little deeper into the woods to see the Natural Bridges. They were formed when most of a large lava tube collapsed on itself leaving three stronger pieces of the ceiling standing.
|see Dave underneath the bridge?|
We saw lots of little wildflowers near the ice cave but all the while we hiked around these bridges we only saw one unusual flower. We noticed this foliage everywhere but only one plant was actually flowering and it was a beauty. Any one know what it is?
We emerged from the forest and headed home under the watchful eye of Mt. Adams.