Into the Dark

It seems like all of the best adventures here are last-minute and planned in a rush. My days off this week were Tuesday and Wednesday, and after a mostly boring Tuesday (reading, naps, Mafia, baby goats), I wanted to do something fun on Wednesday. I originally planned to hike around Mount St. Helens—an area I hadn’t explored yet—but instead I found Ape Caves, a 1.5-mile lava tube filled with rock piles  and complete darkness.

I figured I shouldn’t go this one alone since there was a very real chance I could hurt myself, so I enlisted two other interns to join me.

Once we arrived, only a short staircase led us into the cave, where we were quickly shrouded in darkness. Without the headlamps, you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face. It was both scary and really cool.

Just a short walk later led to the first boulder pile of many. I was really thankful for my hiking boots with high sides to protect my ankles. Weak ankles + climbing over rocks = stranded in a cave (probably).

A side area we explored that involved lots of crouching and shimmying

I tried to get photos, but without a flash, it was basically impossible. Even with a flash, it just looks like a pile of rocks. Technically it was pile of rocks, but it was a pile of rocks in a cave.

Yep. We climbed over that (and many more like it)

About 20 minutes in we came to the hardest part of the cave—an 8 foot slick wall you have to scale. There’s one foothold, but not much else. I made it up (with a little assistance from a friend at the top) and needless to say, it was not very graceful. But I was up, over, and onto the next challenge.

The whole time we were down there, we kept saying “wow.” It was so breathtaking in the cave. Not the typical beauty that can be captured on Instagram, but a type of beauty that only exists underground. Exploring one cave makes me eager to go spelunking more often.

A skylight offering the cave’s only glimpse of natural light
Another of the many boulder piles

Games Galore

We’ve been on a game kick at Left Foot. It started with One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which is a quick, fun game two interns introduced us to. After Werewolf it was Spoons, then Mafia, then Catan, then more Mafia. We’ve spent many nights by the fire or at the kitchen table playing games until 1 a.m.

We’ve also been playing Capture the Flag. I’m used to playing on my street back home, where the boundaries are defined in houses, the flag is a hockey stick, and the dividing line is a crack in the middle of the street.

This is much more intense.

For one, there are fences. Lots of them. If you’re like me and can’t climb fences very well, you better be able to open them quietly. Since we’re playing where the goats live, you also have to be careful to always shut the fences behind you.

Second, it’s dark. We play around 9 or 9:30, once the sun has set and it’s dark enough. This darkness leads to lots of army crawling through goat pens with no regard for the poop you may encounter. It also means you can’t always tell what’s a goat and what’s a person.

Third, it’s a lot of area. We play over most of the property, including the barn, the garden, 4 goat yards, some empty pens, the baby yard, Internville, and duck and chicken yards. We had to set boundaries to places the flag could be hidden so we weren’t out there all night playing.

Farm Capture the Flag also always includes charcoal war paint, so please enjoy this photo of everyone all decked out.

I also settled on an end date for this trip—August 3. It’s so close, just two short weeks away. I feel like there’s still so much left to do here in such a short time. I’m hopefully going to Olympic National Park next week, which is something I’ve wanted to do since before I left for Washington.

These next two weeks are going to be about going on adventures, enjoying the outdoors, and spending as much time with the goats as possible.

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