Sunday, August 28, 2011

Big Four Ice Caves




Today a group consisting of my family and friends, took to the highways and ventured out to the Big Four Ice Caves. I’ve been hearing about this place for years, and it seemed a great time to venture out there. It’s about 14 miles east of the Verlot ranger station, in eastern Snohomish county. 

A nice hike. Not too intense, not much in the way of elevation gain. There were a few folks in flip-flops, some in sandals (like Tevas) and most in tennis shoes. I wore my hiking boots. With my ankle's history of injury, I opted for extra protection.

The terminus of the hike was packed snow, which formed the ice caves in the name. There were other caves further along the small valley, but we didn’t venture farther. Some of us went up onto the snow/ice (the ice is compacted snow, formed mostly from avalanche fallout). I, with my boots, was the only one really equipped for that. I stopped everyone once we got to the point where the rocks that fell were big enough to cause serious harm. And I kept my eyes towards the cliffs the whole time we were on there. 

After the ice, we scampered over loose rocks, exploring the area. Saw a bunch of daisies, fireweed and elderberries. Elderberries were out, though we avoided their toxic fruit. Some of the wild blackberries were ripe, most still needing time. Tart, tart, tart.

Every time I’m up in the mountains, I think about how much I love it there. I love the silence, and the forests. There’s something about the trees. Also triggers a desire to study ecology. Perhaps something for my next sabbatical.

We didn’t see much wildlife. Heard what sounded like a loon, and a few other birds. Otherwise, it was extremely quiet. That was probably related to the hundreds of other people up there with us. There were times that our walk seemed more like being part of a parade.

I delight spending time in the woods. Adding family to that makes things even better. I'm inspired to do more. Maybe some skiing this winter. Or more mountainbiking. I'm excited to see where I take this. 

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