Saturday, June 27, 2015

Search For Mowich Cave, Part Two

After our first failure to locate Mowich Cave we decided to look again. We felt we were close that last time and figured we'd give it another shot. Little did I know it would be the work out of my life! In case I failed to mention it the there are no trails. None. At all.

This is the type of terrain we had to forge through.

Lots of vine maple, fallen and rotting logs, bramble bushes, prickly holly, and not to mention spider webs to push past.

And then there was the steepness. We got separated for a bit while I was resting and hubby went to see if he could find a good route. He came back part of the way and told me to continue "straight" rather than climb up to his location. 

He continued from above as I struggled through the tangled mess. I lost sight of him and at one point I found myself forced to cross a small stream. I swear it was a little rivulet maybe 1 1/2 feet wide but because of where I was it probably took me 10 minutes to get across. At least it seemed like it. As I had one foot in the water trying hard not to slip a small 1' x 4" rotted piece of a log was dislodged and rolled down in front of me. It took me totally by surprise and I let out a little "WHOO!". Hubby heard me and yelled back "I'm up here!" 

We finally made it to the rock face and started picking our way along the bottom. Along the way we saw a couple of low holes in the bottom of the wall but they were definitely not caves. Maybe a small lava bubble.

We found ourselves having to take more frequent and longer rest breaks. At one point I mentioned it felt like we were climbing at 6,000 feet elevation. Hubby said it was actually about 3,000 feet. Well no wonder I was sucking air! It was only about 2,600 feet higher than I was used to!

Anyway we finally got to the first point of true interest, a nice dribble of water coming off the cliff. It was cool and wet and invigorating. I actually stuck my head under the main stream. Click on the picture to enlarge and you can probably see the water coming down and the wet rocks below.

We spent a lot of recoup time there.

But then it was time to move on. We got to a ledge-like area where it looked like maybe something was up above. I sat down to wait while hubby went up to check if there were any caves.

We were just around the corner from the water wall and he was taking a breather when I heard something or someone crashing through the brush. Hubby didn't seem to hear it so I thought I was hearing things. But then a moment later he heard it as well and I knew I wasn't hearing things. 

He was still up above and told me to get the gun. I started to panic a little as I fumbled with trying to get the gun out of the backpack, but I finally calmed myself down and undid the velcro and had gun in hand ready to shoot whatever walked around the corner.

He climbed down and I passed the gun over to him. We sat for several minutes listening to the brush thrashing and waiting for something to come around the corner. Our first thought was a person following us (forest ranger??), then a bear (!!), and then a Yeti. I did let out that little whoop earlier and maybe it heard and was coming to investigate. 

The thrashing stopped and all we heard was the trickling water. Time to move on.

Oh wait! Is that the Yeti??!!

We continued on around the cliff face and found more of the lava bubbles. That's hubby there with the white t-shirt at the left of the hole.

More holes but not the cave we were looking for.

Another small one.

I think there was possibly a cave up this part of the cliff but it would be very difficult and dangerous without special gear. We decided to play it safe and not investigate further.

As we kept rounding the edges of the lava wall it seemed the lava bubbles were getting bigger. The problem was we were getting more and more tired. My legs were starting to get shaky.

The biggest hole yet.

As you know, I like to take pictures of the flora if it's a little unusual. I didn't have the camera with me when I saw what I thought might have been wild grapes. These are scarlet gilia.

 And these are thimbleberries, said to be absolutely delicious if you can get them before the birds.

We were just about to call it quits and head down towards the road when I saw a tree that looked like it could have been the tree in the sketch. "Let's go around one more corner," I said.

 There we found the biggest hole yet. Right above the fern in this picture.

It's the dark spot on the lower left of this picture.

 Another view point.

We aren't sure this is Mowich Cave. It was the biggest of the caves we found. You could actually walk into it but only about 10 feet. According to the paperwork it should have gone on for about 100 feet. Of course there is the other possibility that this is the cave and it was either caved in by natural causes or filled in by the Forest Service to prevent people from going in and messing things up. Who knows.

Now part of the fauna. I know it's hard to see but look carefully at the right of center of this photograph. Hubby pointed them out to me and told me they were rhaphidophoridae. I told him he was nuts; these are cave crickets!

After "exploring" this cave we were thoroughly exhausted and decided it was time to head back to the road and our truck. The going was certainly easier since it was down hill but still treacherous considering the hidden holes from the years of fallen leaves and rotted wood. My only insult was when I slipped straight onto my butt bottom as I was making my way down.

Hubby had a little more substantial injuries from the pokey branches he managed to not avoid.

Right arm.

 And left arm!

Just a couple scenes from on our way out of the area.

This is the Clearwater 1 dam.

Across from that is the "pen stock", the water pipeline coming from the Clearwater Forbay.

 The back side of the Clearwater 1 dam.

The water between the Clearwater 1 dam and Clearwater 2 dam.

 Clearwater 2 dam.

Next to the pen stock and running into the Clearwater 1 midpoint area.

I'm not closing the book on this search just yet. We weren't 100% convinced that we found the remains of Mowich Cave. Until the next time!

1 comment:

M.T. said...

You guys are true adventurers!