About three years to the day from my first encounter with the depths of Cave Falls, I decided to make a return journey. Water was surprisingly high for September, but wasn't terribly cold. There were a few minor changes though.
I have my friend Evan Topinka to thank for my first encounter with Cave. In early August 2015, we poked around the rim of the slot canyon, and then visited the wonderful "cave" at the base of the falls, and I became enchanted.
A month later, I made a solo journey into its depths, and found that while it never actually went subterranean, it did get very tight. And in 2015, it was pretty choked with logs. For instance, the last photo was September 5, 2015. And now, just three years later, huge trees weighing thousands of pounds that I was standing on for that photo are gone! Here is a photo from the bare rock where they once were. Another example are the huge logs that once existed above the final rappel into the amphitheater, seen here The power of this stream is truly incredible. Here's a photo I got in 2015 a few months later. In any case, this year I was pleasantly surprised by relatively clean the slot is. There are still huge logs to be sure. But it's much, much clearer than it was. I should note that in order to really enjoy the wonders of Cave Falls, you have to have technical skills. And given it's easy access with a huge payoff, in just the past two years it's become an overnight canyoning classic. Sadly though, that's also attracted some folks who don't yet have a sense of wilderness ethics in the Northwest. Many bolts have appeared in Cave. And while a few of them, the well placed ones directly above drops that might not have consistent log anchors, seem quite appropriate, someone has gone overboard. This individual decided to make a bolt ladder up one side of the canyon, placing a bolt every few feet. It seems a case of this new Internet canyoning craze, where people get so hyped up on the gadgets, equipment, and rope tricks that they stop seeing canyons as wild, wonderful places to be experienced in as pure a manner as possible, and instead see places to practice their new skills and brag of their feats of daring do. Hopefully we can change that trend. I will probably head back in myself to remove their ladder.
In any case though, it was nice to get back to see this wonder! It's truly amazing that a place like this exists so close to Portland!
Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
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