Day 6: Seattle, WA to Umpqua Hot Springs, OR
Mount St. Helens, Ape Caves, Columbia River Gorge
We woke up bright and early to make some food for breakfast: little smokies wrapped in bacon and covered in brown sugar. This is a speciality of our host’s uncle. Aside from overdoing the brown sugar (the recipe only calls for “an obscene amount”), we think they turned out well. Jessica and Jordan also cooked bacon, eggs, and hash browns to go with the little smokies.
With breakfast finished we set off for Mount St. Helens. On the south side of the volcano is a lava tube known as the Ape Caves. It is the third largest lava tube in North America and easily accessible. Around 2000 years ago lava was pouring down the south side of the volcano. As the outer edges of the lava cooled it hardened while the lava inside continued to flow thus creating a tunnel. The portion we hiked was 1.4 miles in length and very rugged.
We started out with several other spelunkers walking with us, but pretty quickly we got ahead and were on our own. There is no lighting in the caves and you must bring your own light source. The terrain inside the cave is rugged with large boulders scattered throughout and an eight foot lava fall that requires two people to climb. We saw bat guano, but no bats. You hike the cave one way and come back above ground.
Afterwards we drove to the McClellan Overlook which provides some spectacular views of the south side of the volcano.
Next we drove to the Columbia River Gorge and took the Historic Columbia River Highway. We were going to check out Multnomah Falls (tallest in Oregon), but we couldn’t get parking. We did get a spot to park at the Vista House which provides great views of the gorge.
We drove for over another three hours to get to our campground in Umpqua National Forest. By the time we arrived it was dark and we decided to change the plan of hiking to the hot springs to the morning.
Tomorrow we’ll see Toketee Falls, Crater Lake, and Redwood National Park.
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Day 7 —>(check back tomorrow)