This is going back quite a bit, but in November 2002 I explored some ice caves with my brother and a friend. The page with photos was taken down when I moved to the blog format and I thought I might have lost the photos since. Now that I’ve got them back, I figured I’d put the original story and photos back online in this post at it originally appeared. Hope you enjoy!
Ice Cave Expedition
Like my brother Josh said “I didn’t know what to expect, but this wasn’t it.” At about 1,500 ft. elevation, we parked near what is called “The Big Four” (which I think refers to some nearby peaks) and took a short 1 mile walk. At the end of the path is a cliff which extends straight up easily around 1,000 feet. We figure it is because of the elevation and the shade provided by the cliff that allow the snow to collect in the giant piles at the base. Each pile is over 100 feet tall and you can see the layers of dirt and things which collect in certain seasons. The caves themselves are created by run-off from the glaciers above. There are some spectacular waterfalls and… well… it’s just all amazing really.
If you want to visit yourself, here’s how to get there: It’s in the Cascades about 40 miles due east of Everett. From Everett you take route 92 east to Granite Falls, from there you follow the mountain loop highway east just past Silverton. You park at the Big Four Picnic Area and hike the 1 mile in to the caves, they’re at the base of Big Four Mountain, 6135′ high. You won’t find this on most maps.
It’s important to start out by posing with the danger sign that specifically says one shouldn’t go into the caves. With all those disclaimers… we just wanted to do it more!
Here’s the first cave we came up to, although it was the last we explored. I’ve circled it in red to make it easier to see. We explored all the others first, but this one had us crawling around on our hands and knees. I was so unprepared for that kind of exploring… and working at a computer doesn’t build the stamina for such crawling… but I didn’t feel too bad. Josh and I were both sore enough to agree that the cave kicked our asses. But at the end of the tunnel was the most amazing sight. Imagine at the tallest part of the glacier it opens up into a cavern at least 100 feet tall. At the tallest point in the cavern there was a beautiful waterfall coming down shrouded in light. When Josh get’s his film developed I’ll try to put a picture he took of the waterfall, but I was out of film by the time we got there.
This is me posing in front of the first cave we explored. At first I though all the caves would be the size of the small one, but most of them looked like this. A friend of Josh’s was saying that in the winter, the new snowfall fills up many of the caves so they really change in size and shape all throughout the year.
Us climbing in the large cave in the previous picture. You can see Josh covering his head to keep his face dry from the drips above.
After we climbed out of the cave at the top, we decided to come down from the outside (a little easier to see where you’re walking). Now you may think I took a lame picture of a couple rocks on the ground, but if you look closely you can see that Josh’s friend Mike is resting under the large boulder. That’s right… those aren’t small rocks! That’s the view from the top of the glacier! I’ve linked to a larger version of the picture to make it easier to see.
This tunnel splits into 2 openings to the outside. Very cool.
Here’s Josh and I together. The waterfall in the background was possibly the largest one we saw. It kept reminding me of shampoo commercials. Here’s a larger version of this picture.