Sunday, September 8, 2013

Big Four Part Deux

On Saturday, September 7, 2013, Rick, Vic and I started out early, for Big Four Ice Caves, near Granite Falls. Last time we were here, on February 6, 2013, there was a metric butt ton of snow covering everything. I had no idea that a lot of the things we saw today, were even there!

Big Four is a mountain in the Cascade Range of Washington, located 20.8 miles east of Granite Falls. The mountain is about 6,135 ft high and on its north flank, debris piles form from avalanches and are able to remain there year round because of the continuous shade provided by the mountain. During the summer, snow-melt streams flow beneath the debris piles and cause caves to be formed in the ice. By December, the caves are normally filled with snow from the numerous avalanches.

The caves are open now and we were excited to finally see them!

Vic and Stef acting goofy, just after we arrived at the trail head.

Vic, Stef and Rick at the trail head.

The fireplace that was in the Lodge that used to stand in this spot.

Big Four Mountain, shrouded in clouds.

The trails and the boardwalks were so nice and well maintained.

I had no idea that there were rock walls, benches or picnic tables here. The last time I was here, there was nothing but a snow covered pavllion and a rock fireplace. Everything else must have been buried too! haha

In comparison, This is what that same general area looked like the last, and only other time we saw it. There were no benches, rock walls or picnic tables. I had no idea this was such a pretty area. As far as I knew, it was a pavillion, a couple signs and a restroom. Haha

Speaking of the pavillion, this is how it looked last time!

Rick and Vic.

My Happy Place!

Vic and Rick.

I challenge you to a duel! Right here, right now!

Looks like Stef is winning. What a powerful lady!

This hike is serene and peaceful...until you hear an avalanche! haha They don't happen as often, this time of year. But, we still heard a couple.

Random water feature photograph.

Random water feature photograph.

Colorful berries in a sea of green.

Traction in place to aid hikers in the spots with more grade.

Tis true and you don't have to warn me twice! It was much more dangerous during the winter. But, in this area, the threat is always there.

Many broken trees can be seen, victims of previous avalanches.

Vic and Rick, stopping to reflect.

In comparison, this is that same bridge, last February!

Victor Falls, isn't it special? It's named after Vic!

Swayback tree.

Hey Stef! Look over here!

More avalanche remains.

Victims of avalanches past! 

What a lovely place to build a bench! A perfect place to rest, have a drink and look at the view.

Stef and Rick.

I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky. I think about it every night and day. Spread my wings and fly away. I believe I can soar. I see me running through that open door. I believe I can fly...You're singing it now too aren't you? Admit it!

You put your right foot in and you shake it all about...

Purple/Black ferns. They were beautiful. I couldn't get a picture that really did them justice.

Victor Falls, landing on top of the snow drift, above several of the caves.

One of the last of the season's wildflowers. So pretty!

Almost there! Getting excited!

We take it very seriously. We are so Blessed to live in such a beautiful place, with so many amazing things to hike to. You always have to be alert and aware of what you're doing, especially in known dangerous areas, like this. Better safe than sorry. I'm not willing to risk mine, or anybody else's life, just to get a closer look at anything. I don't care how cool it is!

More of the pink wildflowers.

In early August 2010, Grace Tam, a beautiful 11 year old girl from Marysville, Washington, was killed by a large chunk of falling ice, while standing next to the caves, not even inside them.The cross is a reminder of how a wonderful day can turn into tragedy, in a split second.

It looks like I'm pretty close. But, actually, I am still a safe distance away from the caves. In comparison, I am 5' 7" tall. I would estimate the cave roof is 30ish feet, give or take.

I had goosebumps, it was rather chilly standing here.

Rick stayed back even farther than I did. He did have a broken collarbone though. So, we will cut him some slack.

A close up of the inside walls of one of the caves.

Vic and Rick, taking in the beauty of the place.

Rick. I teased him and called him Gimpy all day. Before the day was over, Vic was calling him Gimpy too! haha

Pinkie had to crawl out of her warm spot, for a photo. When I first set her down, she jumped off the edge and fell a little way, poor girl. I had to crawl down and retrieve her.

The side view of the giant snow drift. It isn't as attached to the mountain as I thought it was.

A second set of snow caves, were located down a more rugged path. There was a bit of climbing and some steep places. We wanted to see them though, so we hiked over there.

The terrain over here was much more rugged, not maintained at all. A bit treacherous in places. I was taken aback by the sheer beauty of this place.

One of the caves at the second location. It had 2 rooms. A doorway from one large cave to another.

Vic, enjoying the day.

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting! Hyah!
Are you singing again?

Rick could only use his left hand, as he broke his right collarbone, Tuesday. I was afraid it would be too hard on him, but he insisted on going. I was pretty impressed with how well he did. It couldn't have felt good!

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
Have no fun!

Got a little Captain in ya?

Vic, Rick and Stef. Is it time for Molcajete yete? lol

The clouds are starting to break up. Before we knew it, the sun was shining nicely. It turned out to be a beautiful day.

Rick led us out, some spots were steep and narrow. This is him ahead and above us.

Here's your sign! This is how people have actually died up here. You never know when the caves may collapse. They even let their small children run around inside the caves, stupid!


The last time we were here, we walked on top of snow, over the bridge. The only proof that we actually were on a bridge was the top rail. The rails on this bridge are taller than I am.

This is just a special hike. If you've never been and you get the chance, go. It is a short, easy hike for a huge reward with all the beauty you'll encounter! Afterward, we drove into Everett and ate dinner at La Hacienda.

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