Posted 12/2/2007 6:14 PM (#31404) Subject: Going Ape
To go Ape exit Interstate 5 at Woodland east-bound on 503 being sure to fuel before departing city limits. After about 15 kilometers you'll pass
the first of 3 large lakes of interest to those who enjoy water sport.
Slow down upon entering village named Cougar, its idiot is missing and the
residents seek a replacement, but you may want to rent RV overnight space here rather than camp for free amid snow covered National Forest nearby. I found my motel room over-warm, too close to liquor store, & plain side of interesting interior decor. Low winter rates apply. General store, 2 fuel islands, & 2 decent restaurants also await. Anybody in Cougar can tell you exactly where to find Ape.
Asphalt access going Ape ends within 'The Red Zone' of Mount Saint Helens Volcanic National Monument. Sky was low & blue-black with snow so I wasn't able to see hot vapor venting from nearby towering menace. My dual sport knobbies were only 'cycle tires seen in visitor parking. Only
2 rustbuckets & 12 SUV's demonstrated Ape attraction. Motorcycle togs
are perfect for walk-in though I exchanged my KBC for speleology helmet
with 3 seperate lighting systems (2 of which were electric and another calcium carbide fired). Paid small cash fee, declined propane gas hand-held lantern rental, but didn't ignore public loo because I don't enjoy packing out poo. Big graphics explain layout with history of Ape but I'm
an old hand & ignored it. Well trampled snow trail welcomed me.
Two minutes from parking lot within ice crusted dark woods rimed steel
staircase descended into deep crater amid bedrock of black lava. Breath
steams as does body heat so previous foot traffic left me a chilling fog
that rose up staircase. It smelled of cigars, old poo, perfume, & rot.
Excited voices and flashes of light reflections off wet walls came from
down-hill portion of Ape at bottom of stairs. Nearly a kilometer later found me peeling one outer layer due to sweat but I'm smart enough to have an empty knapsack compartment for that carry. I hate lanterns because they pool one in close circle of light so reader can't see how
vast this tube within lava actually is. The downhill stroll ends in a sandy crawl & lowering ceiling stops reader at pinch point. This end of Ape is the only portion that has scheduled ranger led tours.
If reader turns into uphill portion of tube at base of staircase a longer but less patrolled cavern awaits. Break bones, have heart attack, lose the light or way, nobody will hear your screams. I saw no others. There are shadows enough to hide a thousand stone cold dead visitors. There's no trail exactly in what is uphill scramble over razor sharp edges of loose slabs within void that could easily fit 2 or 3 steam locomotives had they any ability of mountain goats. There are some narrow portions so knee & shin armour grew soiled as did my leather palmed insulated gloves. The main problem at first was keeping eyewear free of mist droplets. Thermal jug put hot herbal tea to warm my core but the jaunt itself is quite warming. There are some vivid mineral colors along the way, various effects that molten lava forms in cooling, & plenty of previous visitor artifaces. Mostly broken glass, moldering pulp waste,
& slime of who knows what? Litter is one reason I don't like to share better preserved but less well known cave entrances. Don't even bother asking me.
Ape has about 5 kilometers of total length, including portions rangers
have key locked so visitors can't enter, nor will staff admit having but
it is handy when deceased persons need discrete extraction. Nearing up- hill end of Ape one will pass a couple natural skylights impossible to exit without technical climbing expertise; I can & most can't. Public who stagger past these surface glimpses will struggle on because there is an interesting choice ahead. For those who don't drop dead en-route one can choose to continue into least visited portion of Ape or climb cold steel ladder high upwards through slot in lava ceiling.
Posted 12/3/2007 8:07 PM (#31419 - in reply to #31413) Subject: RE: Going Ape
Posts: 1184 Location: Reardan, WA
Not to steal JC's thread but no, Ara, I haven't found a helmet that will fit Archie's head. I'd like to find one to keep the doggles from coming up on his forehead when he shakes his head. And it would look sooo good. You should have made it up for the First Ever NW regional rally at Hayden Lake Idaho last June! They'd have met and you both would have had a heck of a good time. Hopefully our paths will cross next summer.
PS: the comments in my previous reply refer to JC's other thread if you haven't guessed already...
Posted 12/4/2007 7:51 PM (#31443 - in reply to #31424) Subject: RE: Going Ape
Posts: 1184 Location: Reardan, WA
Cougar is a neat little town. I think perhaps JC is right, they welcome any idiot. I've felt welcome every time I've been there. Normally come in from the Randall side though. Is Ape the Apgar (sp?) caves?
Claude, doggles have the one chin strap, are you suggesting a second? Not sure how that would work. The doggles stay down on his eyes pretty well unless he wants them to come up then he shakes his head and normally they go up on his forehead. It's easy for me to put them back down if we're still moving. If we've come to a stop then it's OK. It helps to keep them clean too. He'll keep them on longer...
Posted 12/4/2007 9:07 PM (#31448 - in reply to #31443) Subject: RE: Going Ape
Posts: 2485 Location: Middleburg, Pa
>>Claude, doggles have the one chin strap, are you suggesting a second? Not sure how that would work. The doggles stay down on his eyes pretty well unless he wants them to come up then he shakes his head and normally they go up on his forehead. It's easy for me to put them back down if we're still moving. If we've come to a stop then it's OK. It helps to keep them clean too. He'll keep them on longer...<<
No Tom I was just showing my ignorance of the product. Have never looked at any closely and it seemed logical to add a chin strap. Confirmed idiot
Posted 12/5/2007 10:55 AM (#31464 - in reply to #31461) Subject: RE: Going Ape
Posts: 756 Location: On the road... period!
Hi Claude... (so this thread could be a melting pot!!!... as Life is...). We are still in one piece my friend!!!
OK... Spirit also shake his head when we stop to get them up... there is one strap behind and one strap down... UNLESS someone is taking a picture of him and then he will pose... so I can sell a Postcard and make a couple bucks for fuel or food. He is cool, and yes... that is how we live!!!
Will see you next year in Idaho... will plan on it... as long as we sell enough Spirited Doggie Treats and Postcards!!!
Posted 12/5/2007 7:48 PM (#31489 - in reply to #31464) Subject: RE: Going Ape
Posts: 1184 Location: Reardan, WA
Preliminary plans for the next "First Ever" are to have it in Oregon in the Bend area. I'm sure all the details will be posted here as they come together or if you're in touch with Vernon, he'll keep you posted or anyone else in the NW region. Or of course, if you get to the north Idaho, eastern WA area we'll link up too.