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Showing posts with label Caving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Caving. Show all posts

Visit Caverns Adventure Park & Historic Fairy Caves In Glenwood Springs, CO

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Named as "The Most Fun Town in America", Glenwood Springs is a great little adventure town that sits right between two most famous ski resorts in USA -Vail and Aspen.

Made famous by it's largest hot springs pool in the world, this little adventure hub offers a lot more than just relaxing in it's hot mineral waters. For over a century, visitors from around the globe have added Glenwood Springs to their travel itineraries.

And there is a reason for that !

Explore Ape Caves At Mt. St Helens National Volcanic Monument

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At 8:32 Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted and blew down or scorched 230 square miles of forest. Shaken by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, the north face of this tall symmetrical mountain collapsed in a massive rock debris avalanche. In a few moments this slab of rock and ice slammed into Spirit Lake, crossed a ridge 1,300 feet high, and roared 14 miles down the Toutle River.

The eruption is considered to be the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States
In 1982 the President and Congress created the 110,000-acre National Volcanic Monument for research, recreation, and education. Inside the Monument, the environment is left to respond naturally to the disturbance.

Visitor centers along highway 504 tell the story and provide stunning crater views. Trails let visitors explore the rebirth or access areas slower to recover.

Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument is within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Numerous viewpoints and miles of trails have been created for you to explore by car and foot. During the summer Forest Interpreters lead a wide range of activities, from short walks to amphitheater presentations, to help you understand and enjoy this area.

Exploring Guler Ice Cave Near Mt Adams, WA

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As I wrote in my previous post, Mt Adams area is another great place for outdoor enthusiasts in Washington state to explore. Along with climbing, skiing, hiking, camping, mountain biking Mt Adams, the area around Trout Lake is famous for another landmark - Guler Ice Caves. Since attracting notice as a source of cocktail ice in the high summers of the 1860s, the Guler Ice Caves have been a favorite local attraction for travelers to the area for over a century.

Guler Ice Caves in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest provides spelunkers a chance to mix a little ice into their routine. In the lava tubes of the Mt. Adams volcano, caves formed and ice filled up the space with winter spectacles. Noted for their coldness, the caves were, at one point, nearly turned into a cold food storage area by Mr. Christian Guler. The failure of Mr. Guler’s attempts leave us with spectacularly undisturbed caves that are transformed annually by a fresh coat of ice. Join the ranks of those brave enough to venture underground and into an exquisite winter wonderland.

The caves consist of six hundred and fifty feet of beautiful formations of rock and water that can be explored by cavers of all experience levels. The footing is rocky, however, so be certain to bring footwear with adequate ankle-support. Also, be prepared for the chilly air (they are ice caves, after all!) and low light. Flashlights, warm clothing, and head protection for the low ceilings are highly recommended.

 The caves are conveniently located just a mile away from Trout Lake Ranger station. Very accessible in summer, but, as I heard, in winter requires a two-mile over-snow trip, either with cross-country skis, snowshoes or snowmobile. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest has built a stairway down to the cave, but the steps can be slippery during winter.

Many of the ice formations are just inside the cave entrance, so it's not necessary to explore deep inside. In late summer, as I was told, many ice formations start to melt.

The parking lot is big enough to accommodate cars even on a busy weekend. Since the caves are located on the National Forest property, National Forest Recreation Pass is required.

If you are into caving/spelunking, another famous caves - Ape Caves of Mt St Helens, are located just and hour and a half away ( in summer ).
But honestly, in my opinion, both caves are pretty mediocre, and unless you combine visiting the caves with other outdoor adventures in the area, they are not worth the drive from Seattle.

If you liked this post, you may also like:

Inside Guler Ice Cave Video

Exploring Mt St Helens: Camping, Hiking, And Caving

Climbing/skiing Mt Adams

Washington Best Getaways

Exploring Mt St Helens: Camping, Hiking, Caving And Enjoying The Last Days Of Summer

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Labor Day weekend means camping and cookouts for many families. We're no exception. It's become our family tradition to celebrate the official end of summer ( and that's exactly what Labor Day means to us ), with a long road trip to a far away place in search of a new and exciting adventure.

Just pitching a tent, roasting s'mores, and singing campfire songs don't work for us. We crave excitement, adventure, thrills, new experiences and lifelong unforgettable memories !

Last year, it was our first time trying "roughing it up"  a.k.a tent camping. I wanted to  make sure my 5 year old would be cozy and conformable sleeping ( almost) under the stars :) To make things more adventurous, we took a canoe across Little Kachess Lake.

But what could be more adventurous and mysterious than exploring a cave, learning about an exploded volcano, and going on a hike in a lava bed ?! Not to mention the usual camping, lake time, BBQ, and s'mores !

That's why this year, our destination was Mt St Helens area.

Though I've already explored Mt St Helens Ape Caves a few years ago, I couldn't wait to share the excitement of caving with my son !

We were very lucky to snatch a camp site right on the bank of the beautiful Yale Lake. Though the campground had a designated boat launch and a small beach, we had a privilege of swimming just a few steps away from our tent...which later turned out to be a bit ...uncomfortable...Apparently, our new family tradition was to say goodbye to summer by taking the last dip... at 7 am... in freezing morning water :)

Next day we took HWY 83 to Lava Canyon for a short hike. I couldn't believe how excited my son was walking on the rocks where lava flew just a few dozen years ago. He wanted to bring every stone as a souvenir back home.

But the highlight of the trip was, of course, exploring  the famous Ape Caves !


- If you're traveling with little ones ( 6-8 y.o ) make sure to bring warm clothes ( the cave stays cool/cold all year round )
- Bring water... though the lower cave ( the popular/touristy one ) is relatively short, it's still quite a walk for little kids, and they do get thirsty. 
- Don't skimp on little cheap flashlights... Besides the fact that you won't see much, pictures ( even with flash ) will be very low quality.

MOST IMPORTANT : There are two parts of Ape Caves - lower and upper caves.

While the lower part is relatively short, easy and accessible ( it's approximately is .75 miles long
and can be hiked down and back in an hour ), it takes up to 2-2 1/2 hours to finish the upper cave. You will climb over approximately 27 boulder piles and scale an 8-foot high lava fall !

Last time I was there, I promised myself if I would ever bring my kid here , he'd have to be at least 8 y.o and in a good fitness shape.

Many parents being unfit themselves, AND bringing along little kids, create a lot of traffic jams in upper caves, thus preventing other people from truly enjoying this unique experience.


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Rappelling Into The Krubera Cave

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The Krubera Cave (or the Voronya Cave sometimes spelled Voronja Cave) is the deepest known cave on Earth. It is located in the Arabika Massif of the Gagrinsky Range of the Western Caucasus, in the Gagra district of Abkhazia. Bookmark and Share

Canyoneering In Moab, Utah

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At first, I was a bit confused about the difference between caving ( also occasionally known as spelunking in the United States and Canada and potholing in the United Kingdom and Ireland ) and canyoneering.

In very lame terms : exploring Ape Caves or Guler Ice Caves is the most basic type of caving.

During my visit to Moab, I finally got a chance to try canyoneering and saw for myself how different it was from caving.

Again, when I say "caving" all I really mean is a" guided tour of a well explored and maintained cave". You don't really do anything strenuous, challenging, technical.

When it comes to canyoneering, even the most beginner friendly outing might not be suitable for everybody ( fear of heights anybody ? ).

Canyoneering is risky, it's physically demanding, but it's also tons of fun !

During my half day trip I had a chance to explore the beautiful Ephedra's Grotto.

It's a very popular trip, close to downtown Moab, and there are many companies that offer this great experience.

Honestly, I didn't expect much. Repelling down a 100+ feet rope wasn't anything new to me, but the place itself was absolutely amazing !

After walking through the washes and across the slickrock you come to the top of Ephedra's Grotto. You drop 60 feet down to a small ledge which you have to back yourself over and then rappel down another 30 feet. At the bottom you are surrounded by shear cliff walls on every side and so you can only hike out through a small slot opening.

The next repel is even more impressive !

Morning Glory Arch is the fifth largest natural bridge, spanning 243 feet. The first 40 feet you are along the wall but the remaining 70 feet you are suspended in air, surrounded by the beauty of the canyon walls, the arch above and the stream below.

If you have a chance, make sure this is the moment somebody is taking your pictures !

After you're done with repelling, it's 2.2 miles back to the car.

Though I visited both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Negro Bill Canyon was my hiking experience in Moab. This is a very popular trail in Moab. It follows a year round stream through a deep sandstone canyon among willows and cottonwoods and sandy trails for several miles ( Morning Glory Natural Bridge is its final destination ).

All in all, I'm happy that my first canyoneering experience took place in Moab !

Cave base jumping in Oman

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One reason I don't write often about one of the world's most dangerous recreational sports of base jumping is because ...well, chances are, I'll never get to try it. And it sucks to write about something I haven't personally experienced. The only thing left to do is to watch other people live their lives to the fullest.

In this post I posted a cool video about cave base jumping in the Cave of Swallows in San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

Recently I came across another great video of cave base jumping, this time in Muscat, Oman ( officially the Sultanate of Oman, a country in southwest Asia ).

Since I have a "caving" category on this blog ( and not too many caves in Washington to write about ), I thought I'd write a short post about Oman caves.

Oman offers some of the most hair-raising cave exploration in the world. Some of the interesting caves in Oman are the Jebel Akhdar massif, Kahf Hoti (the longest known cave in Oman that stretches up to five kilometers !), several caves in Jebel Bani Jabir, the most impressive being the three deep shafts which enter the chambers of Majlis Al Jinn - one of the largest underground chambers ever discovered ( large enough to hold the biggest of Egypt's pyramids).

The video below feature Felix Baumgartner, one of Red Bull's crazy dare devils jumping into Majlis al Jinn ( translates as The Chamber of Spirits ) cave. Until recently there had not been a way to reach the cave by car, so cavers had to hike in carrying their equipment or rent donkeys from a village a few hours walk from the cave entrance.

For several years tourism companies had been providing caving trips into Majlis al Jinn, but in 2008 the Oman government announced that people would no longer be allowed to enter the cave.

So, here is your chance to catch a glimpse of one of the world's most famous caves:

P.S : According to the news, in 2010 Oman's Ministry of Tourism is planning to develop one of the world's largest cave chambers into an eco-tourism attraction.

Washington caves : Laser Caves

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Previously, I wrote about Guler Ice Caves located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Well, if you are in the area, why not kill two birds with one stone, take a walk into the past and visit Layser Cave ?

A dwelling for American Indians beginning about 7,000 years ago, the caves were abandoned about 3,500 years ago.
Traces of ancient campsites have been found in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Dating of these sites reveals that people have lived in this area for at least 6,500 years. Throughout human history, Mount St. Helens eruptions have had a dramatic effect on the lives of local inhabitants. Work by archaeologists has shown that a massive eruption 3,500 years ago buried native settlements with a thick layer of pumice. As a result, people abandoned the area for nearly 2,000 years.
A short walk takes you to the entrance of Layser Cave, one of the most significant archaeological sites in western Washington. Animal bones and stone tools found on the floor of the cave and buried in the soil layers enabled experts to piece together a history of more than 7,000 years. Today we can duck down into the dark cool cave and imagine what the people were like who shared this space thousands of years before us. Signs along the trail help explain how archaeologists pieced together the story of the cave's use. The parking area will accommodate buses.

Driving directions: Take highway 131 south from Randle, WA to Cispus road (Forest Service road 2300) and then follow the signs to the cave. The cave entrance is a short walk from the parking area. The cave itself is 60 x 40 feet and is marked by several interpretive signs.


Cave base jumping

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I am not sure how to categorize this post : base jumping or caving ( spelunking ) ?

The Cave of Swallows in San Luis Potosí, Mexico is the largest cave shaft in the world, second deepest pit in Mexico and the 11th deepest in the world ! ( the high point provides a 1220 feet (372 m) freefall drop ).
This cave had been a favorite BASE jumping site from the 70’s until it was officially closed to jumping in 2002. When BASE jumping was still allowed, an enthusiast could expect a jump to last about twelve seconds from his initial leap to reaching the floor of the shaft. But going down was only half the fun. The only way back up was...the reason BASE jumping is not allowed there anymore. Some of the BASE outfitters were using a motorized winch system to lift the jumpers to the surface after their jump which made the authorities ban the sport.

BASE jumping organizers are attempting to work with the local, state, and federal governments to once again be allowed to enjoy the cave. For now it is illegal to jump with a parachute or use a motorized winch near Cave of Swallows.

But rappelling and ascending out is still allowed. Same as with BASE jumping, absailing ( descending ) is fun, but going back up is the real challenge. A caver would have to climb up a single rope, using rope clamps, which is very exhausting. It is at least 40 mins of enormous exertion, even for extremely fit cavers a hard fight. For normal, physically fit people it more or less two hours of ascend.

Also, the floor of the pit is covered with piles of dung from the millions of birds. This dung, the rainwater, and debris from the surface are the food base to numerous animals on the cave floor. There are millipedes and insects, snakes, and scorpions. The air is filled with smells, fungi and bacteria. It is possible to visit the floor without respiration mask, but cavers who want to explore the corners of the cave should bring such equipment. There is always the danger of Histoplasmosis and other diseases.

So, for now enjoy the vidoe !

Inside look of Ape Caves ( cool video).

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To extend my audience (and make extra few bucks ) ,recently I started contributing my posts to Examiner.com (a news site that allows local citizen journalists to share their city-based knowledge on a blog-like platform, in over 60 cities in the United States). It's an awesome site that delivers news, reports and insights in 6 different categories, with interests that range from local entertainment to news and politics. It's not just another web site, it's a community of people who share their interests and passion.

As you might guess, my interest is " Recreation and Travel". I was happy to see that there were a lot of people, who shared their insights on almost every outdoor adventure and activity in Washington state. Among my favorite examiners are Casey Knopik and his travel buddies or as they call themselves "the Northern Rangers".

You've already seen my pictures of Ape Caves and read a short description, but this video ,shot by the Rangers, will give you a "live " look inside the caves. It's really well edited, narrative and even funny.

Have a look at it, and who knows ,may be you will change your mind about that trip to the caves.

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Guler Ice Caves

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In my previous articles I wrote about two most popular caves in our state - Ape Caves and The Big Four Ice Caves. For an obvious reason people are drawn to these geological nature wonders. What can be more adventurous and even mystical, than exploring the caves? Here I will add one more cave to explore in our state- Guler Ice Cave.

Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Mt Adams, these underground chambers are not too large or deep ( about 650 feet long), making them a fun experience for the novice spelunker.
The caves are filled with spectacular ice formations that resemble the stalactites, stalagmites, columns, fans and boxwork that require thousands of years to form in a limestone cavern.There are numerous lava tubes of the Mt. Adams volcano, some are small and some up to 2 miles long, which are different parts of a few once connected lava tubes. Portions of the Ice Caves are inaccessible, but you can find other sinkholes by following a surface trail.Even in the heat of summer, the temperatures in the Ice Caves can be quite chilly.
Before, the caves were used as "natural" refrigerators.The story tells of American natives, who stored there huckleberries in the cave. In 1860 the ice from the caves, was used to cool down the drinks in the taverns of Dalles City ( Oregon). Later, the owners of the caves experimented in using the cave as a cold storage.

Peterson Prairie Guard Station, a mile west of the cave, is rented by the Forest Service year-round. Peterson Prairie also has a summer campground. Back in Trout Lake, the log Trout Lake Motel and some bed-and-breakfast inns cater to overnight guests.

Directions to the Guler Ice Caves: Take I-5 South,take HWY 14 West,take Washington Route 141 north from White Salmon to Trout Lake, then head west on Forest Road 24 for 5.5 miles.

If you are interested in caving (speleology ) and want to attend a few trips with professional cavers in our state and Oregon, join the Oregon Grotto- the only chapter of the National Speleological Society in our region.There are lots of benefits of being a member of the Oregon Grotto !

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Washington Caves ( The Big Four Ice Caves )

After I published my "Caving" post , about my visit of the Ape Caves near Mt St Helen one of the readers made a very "knowledgeable " comment: " It's not "caving ". It's called spelunking ". According to Wiki:
Caving — also known as spelunking, when referring to amateurs without the proper knowledge, or training — is the recreational sport of exploring caves. In contrast, speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave environment

Whatever you call it: caving,spelunking or speleology - it's a lot of fun and our state is a great place to experience it, whether you are doing it for physical exercise,sense of exploration and curiosity or pure enjoyment.

What made me go back to my "Caving" post, was the increasing "fuzz" about grand opening for the Ice Caves Trail Bridge. The bridge ( the old one was washed out by floods in 2006 )accesses one of the most popular trails on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. According to the WTA blog :
This trail is among the most popular day hikes in the entire state, the Big Four Ice Caves can see up to 50,000 visitors a year... and the star of the show- the ice caves, at the foot of Big Four Mountain.

Besides the caves and impressive views of Big Four Mountain, another great feature of the trail , it's been made accessible for people in wheelchairs.I am very happy to know,that trails like that open the great outdoors to people in wheelchairs and give them a chance to pursue their passion.

I had a blast exploring the Ape Caves last year, and when I found out about the Big Four Ice Caves , I was really psyched to check it out.But at the end of the WTA post I read:
Note: The Big Four Ice Caves are extremely dangerous to approach, enter or climb on. Tons of unstable ice may come crashing down at any moment. Please exercise extreme caution in this area.

My guess is ,though the caves are highly dangerous to enter, you can still do it. Doesn't look like it stopped these people.

If you prefer to be on the safe side,the caves can be viewed from an outlook, a short walk from the base of Big Four Mountain.