Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Bearcat Caves

Dear followers,
Please forgive my absence over the last week. I realize this is a terrible start for a newborn blog.
However, it was Easter weekend, and it did involve new adventures and some most excellent family time. Where would the inspiration for a new post come from, if not that?

Let me start with a confession: I almost did not take part in this marvelous adventure.
That goes against all my goals for this year, but I was feeling cranky due to some travel-related irks (they do exist, believe it or not...), one of those irks being a lack of a good pair of hiking shoes (a post for another day).
However, after some prompting from my brother and sister-in-law, I dug out my decrepit old Merrells that retired 3 years ago (why haven't I thrown them out?), and tagged along.

Some backstory:
Brother Mike is the true adventurer of the family. He discovered the existence of the "Bearcat Caves" somewhere on the internet. There is a geocache hidden in one of them, and the goal was to find it. He also learned that there was a bigger and better cave near the geocache cave, but there were no GPS coordinates for that one. Goal #2 was to find this cave, and to explore it, if at all possible (apparently the guy that put this info up on the web saw a cougar there, or something...SKETCHY....).

A group of 11 of us met at 10:30AM Saturday, and drove towards the Monte Lake area. Then we ditched the tenderfooted Civic, and piled into Behn's truck to trek through the muddy/snowy dirt road to our destination. That was an adventure in itself!

After bouncing around in there for 30 minutes, we hiked 20 minutes over some scrubby grassland and plenty of fallen trees. The Little One (4'11" sister-in-law and BFF, Katie) wandered off alone and almost got lost. Luckily we tracked her down before the cougars and ticks got her.

We found a few little nooks and crannies fairly quickly, but nothing that could really be considered a real "cave". Eventually though, we did get to the geocache cave! It was very cool. The boys rigged up a rope to make getting down the steep slope a little easier.

It was pretty slippery inside...even though we hit the 18+ degrees that day, inside the caves it was still very cold and icy, and there was a lot of snow built up in places.

The icicles were amazing! I had never seen them get so big before! It was really quite beautiful.

We walked around for a while, took a peek at the geocache (left something there, but I can't remember what), and climbed out again. It was neat.

Goal #1: check.

After that, we split up into a few groups to search for the nearby awesome cougar cave!
Turns out it was super close, but mostly hidden by a tangle of branches. Mike eagerly geared up and was soon descending into the deep, dark, unknown!

It wasn't long before he was shouting up things like, "This is awesome!" and "There's a huge drop-off!" and "Wow, there's like a huge cavern down here!", and the rest of us were dying to get in there and see it for ourselves!

Eventually another entrance was found...

 as well as a super creepy/amazing narrow "chute" into the deepest and darkest part of the cave. It was super scary! We had to lay on our stomachs with one foot stuck in a loop on a rope, and the guys would lower us into the depths.....SO freaky! Its so dark, you couldn't see where you were going, and it was so icy and slick. The worst part was going back up the same way. It was like the birthing process all over again...

Needless to say, at the end of the day we were all filthy, tired, and hungry, so we wrapped up the day by soaking up some quality vitamin D, and roasting hotdogs! It was like a perfect summer day!

The old fogey needed a nap after all the hard work. (I managed to hold out until 8PM....then it was game over).

We were all so stoked about exploring the awesome caves that are SO close to home. I had no idea there was anything like that around here! Now I want to go back when its warmer, and most of the ice is gone. Apparently it never leaves completely though.

You can check out a video clip of the day here.

Ps. Regis came along, but he refused to get out of the backpack. He said it was unnatural for monkeys to go in caves, but I think he had just watched "The Descent" the night before...


Aneta said...

Super fun times! But.. I'm with Regis! Especially after watching that movie preview!

Anonymous said...

I was going to ask if he was along... I thought he might have been.

Sonya said...

I didn't know we had cool caves like that in our area. Sweet! (Not that I would be brave enough to go into them. But it's neat to know that they are there.)

Jill & Regis said...

Dear Anonymous: you smell of Andrew Klassen...am I right? I know you stalk my blogs ;)

Anonymous said...


Jill.and.Regis said...

I know it. You can't hide from Regis.