Big Four Ice Caves 06/19/2014

Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-1Day two of Blunami’s visit to my little corner of the country and I thought we would go on a hike somewhere that is unlike anything she has down in the land of beige.  So, we went to Big Four Ice Caves.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-4Even without the caves, it is a beautiful hike.  Old growth with windfalls, towering skeletons and lush growth.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-5You have to stand in awe of a storm that can rip a tree out of the ground of this size and just lay it down.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-7And to get a sense of just how big it is. . . . . .
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-11And the Road is Long, with Many a Winding Turn . . . . . . lalalalalalalala!
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-16And pretty skunk cabbages all in a row!
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-21A peek at one of the surrounding mountains.  And no, I don’t know the names of the various mountains.  That’s on my to learn list. So rest assured, there will not be a quiz at the end.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-30So, it begs the question.  If you fold it just right, could a body be stashed here???
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-46I am relatively certain that the plant on the left is wild ginger.  But, since I am not 100% certain, there will not be a quiz on this one either.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-49And you though it was all in the minds and imaginations of people like the Grimm Brothers to come up with a haunted forest populated by laughing evil trees.  Well, it actually was.  But, many of us understand that such tales are cautionary tales that have their foundation in reality.  Or at least the perception of reality that exists after a night of drinking ale and whiskey and passing out on the forest floor where you wake up to this hovering over your body.  (Makes you want to rethink that next drink, doesn’t it?)
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-54Never fear!  For just a short way down the trail is this nice tree offering a safe haven from the evil flesh rending tree that was laughing at your pitiful countenance.
 Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-56The lesson to be learned from these beautiful evil darlings is that when you see them first coming up from the ground to always check and realize they are NOT dandelions.  Though their leaves can somewhat resemble them, they are NOT.  Do NOT with your bare hands attempt to extract them from the ground.  They will embed their little prickles into you as badly as will nettles.  They will show up everywhere, even in cracks in the cement where they are especially difficult to remove. Other than that, they are just beautiful throughout their entire life cycle to photograph.  Which is probably why I have left one monster plant growing in my back yard.
I just liked the way it split three ways.Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-57
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-97One of the surrounding hills when you reach the clearing to the Ice Caves.  As opposed to a desert island, its more like a desert hilltop.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-99And here we have the Emerald Palace.  Doesn’t it just look like a castle made of trees sitting up there.  Or it could be trees imitating Meerkats looking out over the valley.
The clouds make this hike so much prettier! Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-62
And for that Timeless Look!Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-66
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-70Now, how cool is that?  A coffin shaped stone and it was even covered with some dirt.  It was a bit heavy to heft out of there, so we left it.  Who know, maybe someone would want to bury someone under it.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-74One of the fascinating things in this valley is the walls of sheer rocks with tiny waterfalls all along them.  These are also the source of the ice caves.  And the closer you get to these walls, the colder the air gets.  You might be wearing a tank top before entering the valley area, but you will be reaching for a bit more covering as you make your approach.
 Ooooh, Pretty!!!Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-77
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-84I’m thinking she was a bit fascinated.  Alas, it was a bit early in the year for the true ooh-aah of the caves.  I now understand why we always went in the fall to these.  Guess Blu will have to come back then to see how wondrous they are!
The staircase of falls!Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-88
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-91You can just feel the frigidness of the water falling down these steps
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-94
 Just makes the breathing deeper when you look on scenes like this.  Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-165
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-168You just have to be careful of the pacific gators hiding in the waters.  They tend to particularly like the skunk cabbage.  They find it hides their scent from the prey.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-110Pretty tiny purple flowers.  Yeah, I should identify them.  Maybe later.
Wild leaf day?Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-113
Beautiful Solomon’s Seal.  They are all over this trail.Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-119
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-120
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-121The winds ONLY stripped one side of the tree?
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-126She almost looks reluctant to be heading back down the trail.  Guess she’s going to have to come back!
 Lonely little bell.Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-129
 Nature’s yo-yos!!!  Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-133
Queen’s cup, Bead LilyIce Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-135
Dance of the woodland ferns.Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-139
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-141And in every crevice, you can find life taking up residence.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-144
Sweating tree mushrooms.  They form the most interesting shapes. Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-149
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-154And then we have the infamous alpaca tree.  Legend has it that wild herds used to roam the hills till the white man came where they began to capture and tame them so they could sheer them of their soft piles to make socks for their tender feet.  But, they missed one, the king of the alpacas.  When they realized he had been missed, that his coat was rumored to be softer than that of any of the others, they set out on an expedition to find him.  The Spirit of the Forest felt they had taken enough and asked the Alpaca King if he wished to stay and become one with the forest.  He heartily agreed and was transformed just before they threw the net over him.  Well, they had no use for a moss-mop, so they took back their nets and he stand next to the trail to this day, mocking the passing humans for being outsmarted by an alpaca.  And once in a while, he has been known to spit on a passing human.  Though, it is generally one that doesn’t show sufficient respect for the forest.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-157Many a sacrificial victim has met its end at the maw of this ancient spirit of the forest by the little forest sylphs within.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-161Okay, all together now – Oooohhhhh  – Aaaahhhh!!!Pretty!!


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