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John Guilford's Hikes

Big Four Ice Caves on 1994-09-04

Date: 1994-09-04

Location: Big Four Ice Caves

People: (including myself): Pam, E.B., Kendra, Kileah, Anitra, Racy

			My Alt.	
Start:		3:10	1320
Ice Caves: 	3:40	1540	1 mile
Leave:		4:35	1580
Out:		5:10	1380
The weather was nice but we had a late start due to Church and lunch so we opted for a quicker hike. 

The trail from the parking lot starts off paved for a short section but quickly turns to a wooden boardwalk that goes over a marshy area.  After this the trail is dirt.  It had rained for the past two days and the trail had a couple puddles with a little mud, but it was in excellent condition considering the number of people who use it. 

Shortly after the marshes the trail crosses the Stillaguamish river on a study wooden bridge.  Actually, there are two bridges with what must be an island in the middle.  The trail climbs a couple hundred feet through a hemlock (?) forest before ended at the talus filled base of Big Four mountain (named from a large number "4" visible from the Monte Cristo area during parts of the spring). 

The ice caves were melting fast, though there were still quite a bit of snow and ice still there.  There were copious signs warning of the danger of entering or climbing on the caves and it was surprising to see that people were obeying it and not climbing on the snow.  In the past I've usually seen a lot more activity on top of the snow caves.  It was obvious where part of the snow cave roof had collapsed and was laying on the ground.  Looking into the cave one could see cracks in the ice.  Some places one could see the blue color of the ice.  The girls really enjoyed it.  We spent an hour exploring around there as well as climbing up a bit on the East side to check out a large crevice in the cliff face.  This crevice was filled with fallen rock.  The rock was really cold.  On the rock one could see numerous scrape marks of rock and or ice that slid along the surface leaving tell-tale scratches. 

We lost the sun just before arriving at the start of the talus (i.e. the end of the trail).  By the time we left, the sun had moved enough so that we didn't regain the sun until almost the parking lot. 

I hadn't realized it, but there used to be a big resort there from about the 1920 until it burned down on Labor Day, 1949.  This resort featured a 9 hole golf course, Crystal Lake (an artificial lake that is no longer there and was just north of the present road), some cabins, as well as the main hotel.  All that remains of the hotel is the bottom segment of its main fireplace. 

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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015