Monkey-ing around or THE APE CAVES ADVENTURE
It started out as a great idea...an idea of bonding...adventure and plain ole thrill seeking...
I thought that whilst my oldest son was out visiting for a while I would treat him to some of the local adventures that lie in store. We went water falling...city seeing... and yes he accompanied me to the shanghai tunnels. It was itself worth a hoot... BUT only in the ridiculousness of it.
But this is the story of Ape Caves...
I have two sons...18 and 16 years of age. We decided to go to The Ape Caves and just check it out.
My Oldest was not in a good mood, rather un-jovial (if that's even a word) Bah...he was being a pain in the ass! Never smiling...always having the last say and the last say was always chest beating, tribal, petty bullshit statements. Yeah...the car ride was SUCH a THRILL!!
Well we come upon a sign in the road that says Ape Caves...4 miles. Turning left our mood improves as we all start to turn our minds to task. 1 mile later we are stopped by a government approved road block consisting of large wedge shaped 4 ton cement blocks and yellow tube steel. The sign says ROAD CLOSED.
We all wondered if it was because St. Helens was gurgling? No, it turns out that this road block goes up every fall season. No biggy I thought... we will walk...after all it is a beautiful day! After backing the van up to the concrete we all don our individual camel back, check our food supplies and triple check our flashlights. I decided to carry two cameras, one 35 mm and 1 digital. Hopping the fence we are almost deafened by the silence of the area. Mutual nature induced tinnitus rang in our ears, broken only by the sound of breathing, footsteps and my galloping heart. After only a short while I yell out "3 fricken miles"!! We have to walk 3 miles just to get to the parking lot of Ape Caves...all up hill!! Not wanting to look like a pansy I push forward.
Coming upon the official entrance sign I decide to photograph my young men on this outing.
We arrive at another turn which promises the hoped for beginning of our adventure but instead we are greeted by a slightly steeper slope and curves... Shuffling along we round the corner and see a building!! Yes!...Yes!? NO!...DENIED! Another faux start... It looks like an attempt at something but it is closed to the public and not just for the season. Coming to yet another gate we rest, drink water and have a snack. We walk around the gate and start up more incline. Suddenly, during a mutual bitch session about aching legs...shortness of breath and humor of what we were doing, our silence is broken by the sound of a vehicle. Really... I heard the transmission sound and I immediately thought, turbo 350 or 400 tranny. Around the corner barrels a mint green Government Suburban and while the tranny grabs 3rd gear the faceless driver holds up a bottled water in acknowledgement. My Youngest wonders aloud why the guy didn't fricken stop and just give us a ride to the caves? I ask him if he would stop for 3 large men walking along in the middle of nowhere? He hasn't taken into consideration just how big he really is. At 5-11 and 190...he's my baby!
At last...the Caves! Well at least its the parking lot. We all sit down and drink more water and start getting slightly nervous as we realize where we are and where we're going. Anxious to get started we all rise as if by que and start down the trail to the opening.
The Boys start down first, pose for a shot and I follow them...a weird sensation building in my ass area.
At the first landing we are all giddy as school girls and nervously we start down the stairs to the tube. At the bottom we read the sign
We decide to take the upper cave...the longer of the two. If we had enough energy to walk the shorter one when we were done with the first...we would attempt it later.
Now I did not get a lot of good internal pictures but I should go back and photograph the graffiti written in cave slim! The bottles and wrappers strewn about and the occasional ignorant.. no erase that... STUPID CIGARETTE BUTT!! The Caves (any cave) have their own environment. The bats that used to inhabit these tubes have all left due to uncontrolled access and disturbance. The food dropped or left on the floor interrupts the natural feeding chain in the caves. And writing in the slime, the name of this weeks girlfriend or boyfriend is not only indicative of the mental capacity of the writer, it is plain stupid! The slime is alive folks!! Don't touch it!!
There were at least 8 cave-ins and one wall that we had climb over. DO NOT screw around in a place like this...a broken leg or injury would have cast rather a gloom over the day...
So we get to the end and the boys climb out leaving me in the darkness. I look around and find clusters of Daddy Longlegs and under the clusters were one single thread of web...cool...but delicate. I switch out my light and sit listening to my boys voices drift down into the caves and to the dripping of water. Shortly afterward they head back down to check up on the 'Old Man' and find me sitting on basalt, grinning like a fool. We head to the very end of the tube and photograph each other.
Anyway while climbing out the exit I think it rather funny how the entrance was like a gaping maw and the exit, well...sorta like an ass...
After taking yet another picture of the boys with burping St. Helens in the background, we start down the trail, back to the van. Have I mentioned the silence of this place? Well fifty feet down the trail we meet up with 3 other guys walking towards us. Their breathing sounded way too loud as did their footsteps. We passed each other with glances of acknowledgement and silence.
By this time my old ass is really dragging...and we pull over for a pit stop on top of a lava tube outcropping. We drink water and force ourselves up and start walking again. Coming to the cave entrance we see why the three strangers were eerily quite...a can forced to become a pipe...standing by the side of the trail.
You know...the only good thing about the 3 mile walk back was that it was all down hill!! My ankles, back and legs ached from the exertion of the hike, not to mention my forehead this from a chance encounter with a basalt outcropping ;o) We all agreed that to lie on ones back with your feet aimed straight upwards did have a very soothing effect on the aching lower extremities and I did have the comfort of knowing that my sons were both exhausted too and that although they may have more explosive strength...I have endurance.