Middle School Spelunkers!

posted in
Send by email

We just returned from a fantastic late-fall caving trip to the Trout Lake, Washington, area. Though temps dropped into the 30s, we didn't care because we were deep below the surface of the earth...where it's always cold!

Students arrived on campus at 10:00 and played a fierce game of Birdie on a Perch to get the energy flowing. We drove east on Highway 26 and stopped at Eagle Creek to see spawning salmon and eat lunch. It was a perfect place to stop thanks to the hundreds of fish swimming around and a nearby picnic shelter. We headed to Hood River, crossed the Columbia, and then turned north until we arrived at Trout Lake, Washington.

We first explored Cheese Cave. Students were amazed to hear stories of the little cabin sitting on top one of the caves entrances, and to realize that the cave was actually used at one point for storing cheese. After a safety briefing, students donned headlamps and helmets and descended into the cave. We walked a few hundred feet in the direction of the stairwell leading toward the house, and then tracked back to the main entrance and went down a smaller passageway leading to a crawlspace after a few hundred feet. Some students crouched down and went all the way to the end, and a few watched from a little ways away.

We then boarded the bus and drove 10 minutes to Ice Caves. We played a team-building game using a rope and a carabiner, and then descended into the cave. Students were amazed at the ice formations made by water dripping form the ceiling. Some slipped through the tiny crevice to make the loop in the first section of the cave, while others waited and then continued on with the group for the second and third caves. Students then had a snowball fight, and we drove to the Guler-Trout Lake County Campground.

After dinner of mac ‘n’ cheese, canned salmon, peas, and roasted red pepper soup, we sang songs around the campfire and made s’mores. Students went to bed around 10:00.

The next morning, we ate breakfast, played a quick game of Pirate Tag, and headed toward Beacon Rock for a hike. The wind whipped and rain pelted, however, so we decided to do a hike on the Oregon side with a little less exposure. We did the 2 ½ mile hike (out and back) to dramatic Wacella Falls, at the end of a mossy and cliff-filled gorge. After a quick game of “I Spy with my Eagle Eye” and sandwiches, we headed back to school. What a fantastic weekend!