Non paddling days

What we got up to when we took a few days off paddling.

On our way up north, we stopped at Mount St Helens and found Apes Cave which promised low temperatures – a pleasure to hear in the heat wave we were in the midst of. The leaflet suggested we would need 2/3 light sources each which seemed a little excessive so armed with headtorches and a gas lamp Cheryl had hired, we headed down and quickly put our fleeces on – it was rather chilly! The walk was interesting for sure, with lots of clambering over boulders and shimmying up an 8 foot lava tube. It was an incredible place to go in to and reassuring that it hadn't been banned for health and safety purposes. Apparently the cave was first explored by boy scouts in the 1950s, I can't imagine what they thought as they walked along this underground lava tube, it was a great way to spend a couple of hours. Climbing out the steps, the warmth soon hit us and the walk back to the car was itself a pleasant experience with the discovery of strawberries along the way.

We paused nearer Mount St Helens and climbed seemingly endless steps to get a better view at the very appropiately named Wind Ridge. From here you could clearly see the dam formed by the last eruption plus an impressive log jam. Smoke could be seen leaving the top of the volcano but thankfully nothing to worry about!

After camping at the Johnson River take out (but not paddling it) we headed up to Mount Ranier National Park where many of the roads had been damaged in floods just a few months before. However the road up to Paradise was open and from here we walked and played amongst the snow, of which there was plenty, and saw a glacier. Again it was a stunning place, but none of us fancied the walk to the summit which would've taken two days – not quite the afternoon stroll we were looking for.

The drive out took us past some impressive falls and we were asked if we were planning to run it – its funny what effect it can have turning up at a tourist sight with kayaks strapped to your roof! However, we're not that daft but it was lovely to be cooled with the mist kicking off the drop.

We soon returned to paddling again which we'll update about soon.

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