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Yale Park and Ape Cave, Washington

Mount St. Helens the day before was certainly one of the highlights of this vacation. We are determined to see the mountain again today, but not that close. And we had a different agenda for today: visit the Ape Cave, a famous lava tube just south of Mount St. Helens. Originally we planned to go all the way to the Windy Ridge Viewpoint, but given that it is a 3 hours drive from Vancouver, WA (where we stayed over night), we skipped this part and decided to spend more time at the Cave site. Totally worth it!

 

The way to the Ape Cave is the Lewis River Road, WA State Route 503. Following this road will inevitably bring you to Yale Lake.

 

Yale Lake

 

There is a huge recreation area at the lake, as well as a ramp to launch boats into the water. The view invites to stay longer, unfortunately we forgot our swimsuit. There is also a Geocache.

 

Yale Park
Yale Park

 

Yale Park
Yale Park

 

Yale Park
Yale Park

 

Yale Park
Yale Park

 

 

Beaver Bay Park

 

At the east end of the lake is another camping ground, in the Beaver Bay Park. Of course it comes with a Geocache. The lake slowly transformes into the Lewis River, and the color of the water changes from blue to a bit more green. After throwing a few stones into the river, we used the place for a quick snack.

 

Lewis River at Beaver Bay Park

 

Lewis River at Beaver Bay Park
Lewis River at Beaver Bay Park

 

Lewis River at Beaver Bay Park
Lewis River at Beaver Bay Park

 

 

The Crawl

 

Near the Ape Cave is an incredible site, Trail of Two Forests, which shows what happens if hot lava get's in contact with nature. Trees and roots are burned, and leave behind long holes, both horizontally and vertically. An Earthcache got us there.

 

Once a root from a tree, now a long hole
Once a root from a tree, now a long hole

 

The above picture shows where a root of a tree was encased by flowing lava, eventually burst into flames and was burned to ashes. Now it's a long hole, wide enough that a human can crawl all the way to the end. The picture was taken from where the stump of the tree once was.

 

Once a root from a tree, now a long hole
Once a root from a tree, now a long hole

 

The above picture shows the other side of the roots. Wide enough to crawl in, but the end is closed.

 

The Tunnel
The Tunnel

 

Lava Log Dam
Lava Log Dam

 

The Crawl
The Crawl

 

Encased and burned tree stump
Encased and burned tree stump

 

Encased and burned tree stump
Encased and burned tree stump

 

A Tree Mold is Made
A Tree Mold is Made

 

Exit of The Crawl
Exit of The Crawl

 

 

Ape Cave

 

From the Trail of Two Forests site to the Ape Cave site it's only a few minutes driving up the Forest Road 8303. If you plan to go down into the Cave, bring strong lamps for everyone in your party, sturdy and good shoes, and also clothes for near freezing temperature.

 

The Cave is a long lava tube (almost 4 km), which can be entered at one end and near the middle. Walking is possible until almost the end, and it will take around 45 minutes from the middle entry to the lower endpoint. Discovered in the 1950 years, this cave predates the 1980 reuption of Mount St. Helens and is believed to be around 2000 years old.

 

Stone enclosed into the lava flow
Stone enclosed into the lava flow

 

Stalactites
Stalactites

 

Stalactites
Stalactites

 

End of the Cave
End of the Cave

 

End of the Cave
End of the Cave

 

The middle entrance into the Cave, photographed from the Cave
The middle entrance into the Cave, photographed from the Cave

 

Of course there is a Geocache nearby.

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This years summer vacation brought us to the American Northwest. First of all, it was a surprise in multiple ways for our kid - it did not know where we are going until we arrived at the gate for the final flight in Frankfurt. It did not know that we are Comments ()

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