After catching doing some trip planning I was headed to the Ape Cave Lava Tubes on Saturday 9/18. I stopped by REI on my way out of town to get a headlamp to compliment my flashlight since the cave had no lighting. After a 2 hour drive I arrived. It was raining and I knew the caves would be wet so I put on my rain gear and ventured in.

The caves were only a short walk from the parking lot. Two paths were available, the lower cave which had flat footing, and the upper cave which required climbing and navigating rocky obstacles, I choose the lower cave to start. The caves were pitch black and I am glad I stopped to get a headlamp. Between that and my flashlight I was able to light the caves up pretty well and take some great pictures.

I walked thru the caves admiring the geological features. The cave was spacious and the had a faint dank smell in the air. At times I had no one near me and the water dripping from the ceiling provided a soundtrack to my journey thru the cave. At times in the walls would appear red and orange and you could imagine lava flowing thru the tunnels and forming this 2.5 mile lava tube 100 years ago. I reached the end of the lower cave and returned back to the beginning and decided to navigate and climb around In the upper cave.

The upper cave was more technically challenging than the lower cave and was mostly climbing obstacles instead of an easy walk like below. As I was climbing an early section I stopped to admire the formations and hear a voice near me. “I can’t see…. I can’t see”. There is a young woman maybe 16 or so. I shine my bright headlamp and flashlight in her path to try to help her out. “I can’t see, I can’t see, I can’t see”. I have a lot of light thrown at her, but she is clearly having a panic attack. I feel bad for the young woman, but I see someone from her family or a friend come to her and hold her hand to lead her down the obstacle, so I know she is ok.

I venture ahead of climbing the rocky lava tube and get to a stop with no other people and stop to take some more pictures using my headlamp and flashlight to illuminate the area. I stumble on a rock and my phone drops to the ground. Shit…. Crack in the screen. I look at my phone and it appears functional. Oh well, I was always planning on getting a new one in the fall after my trip. I bought this in December 2020 but it was in my house during the fire and had developed a haze to the screen.

I did not hike the whole upper cave, but had seen enough and the day was getting late. I climbed down the rocky cave and exited the tunnel. I had spent the first 3 weeks of my trip on top of mountains, in rain forests and on the coast and now in a lava tube cave. Its amazing the diversity of the geology in Washington.

I examined my phone when I returned to my car and now the screen was flashing a bit and there was no touch sensitivity near the top of the screen. Oh well,  the screen was already hazy from the house fire, so not that big a deal, although a little disappointing. On my drive out it was still raining a bit and there was a haze surrounding the mountain around me. I stopped at a park to admire this sight and took some pictures.

I had booked a hotel in Longview, Washington. On my drive there I got a call from the hotel telling me they were overbooked for the room I had originally booked and asked If I was OK with being upgraded to a king suite for free. Of course not, nice score. I started to look online to see if there were any deals on phones. I was pretty attached to the one I had and didn’t want a different model. I couldn’t find my same phone anywhere in smaller town. I looked online at the usual stores looking as far as Portland and didn’t find any deals so I looked into phone repair. I found a place outside Portland with the parts in stock and looks like that is where I am headed tomorrow before going to the coast.

I checked out some local drinking and dining establishment. One stop was a cozy tap room that was owned by a husband and wife called Tapped Roots. I chatted with the owner a bit and he recommended I stop by J Squared Barrel House. They had a nice selection of local beer and I chatted a bit with Alex and Ann who worked there and had a nice conversation. They gave me some recommendations of things to do at my next stops in Seaside and Astoria.

Next stop is outside Portland to get my phone screen replaced and then a day in Seaside and Astoria before flying home for a few days on Wednesday morning.

TLDR: Lava caves are awesome, woman having a panic attack can’t see with lots of lighting, dropped my phone in a cave and cracked my screen.

Full Photo Album –

Highlights –

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