Switch to English Language Passer en langue française Omschakelen naar Nederlandse Taal Wechseln Sie zu deutschen Sprache Passa alla lingua italiana
Members: 69,913   Posts: 1,521,704   Online: 1042
      
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 15
  1. #1
    bowzart's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Anacortes, WA
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,217
    Images
    15

    Ape Cave: How We See (or do we?)

    A group of students once asked me whether I had ever been to Ape Cave. I had never heard of it. They gave me directions to get there and told me they would be there on Saturday.

    The cave is south of Mt. St. Helens. I went there with a friend, thinking we might meet them there, but somehow, we missed them. We had brought “headlight” flashlights and I had brought my camera and some portable flash equipment.

    The cave is a long lava tube, probably the longest such structure in the hemisphere. It is called “Ape Cave” because it was discovered by a youth outdoor club called the “Apes”. There are actually two parts to the cave; each is about one mile long. If you look at the pictures on the sites mentioned (and a search will find others), you can see that the tube is quite narrow, but the width varies from place to place. It is rather cold down there, and dark. Really, really dark. The interior’s floor varies from strewn boulders to relatively flat and comfortable. There is a very well established trail, worn smooth by the feet countless hikers. Off the trail, it can be quite rugged.

    At one end, there is a concession which rents Coleman lanterns, which people carry with them as they hike through the cave. The lantern lights it up pretty bright. Without the lantern, with just the headlights, our vision was by an essentially axial light; that is, the light was very close to the axis of our vision. In this light there was quite a strange luminescence that expressed as a texture of light wiggly lines, like strange bright jewelled worms, on a black field. It is some kind of a plant growth, possibly a fungus. The lanterns would not reveal this wonder. We didn’t go far into the cave because my friend didn’t want to brave the depths. We didn’t know that it would be like a refrigerator, and had not brought warm enough clothing to spend a long time down there.

    I proposed that we go over to the edge of the cave in a wide section, as far as we could get from the trail and turn off our lights. Doing so, we plunged ourselves into absolute darkness and silence. Having spent so many years in darkness as a color printer, I wanted to experience darkness in a different way, without the presence of so many pending work orders; darkness in a very large subterranean space, unbroken and solitary, but with another person. That was unusual for me, because in the darkroom I work alone. It was terrific. I have a strong motivation toward experiences of myself in unusual places, inside myself and out. This was one of the best so far.

    How long did it last? Not very long, because soon we began to hear a distant sound, which gradually grew louder. Sounds began to become clearer, and differentiate. Their source began to reveal itself as a group of people. I guess we were expecting this. Gradually, a dim light began to grow from our right, and a small party came through, talking, with their lanterns. They passed. The light dimmed and the sound gradually diminished, finally extinguishing altogether. Several other groups came through, each time illuminating the interior, turning it from eerie to prosaic, then gradually disappearing. Like a train going through at night, the sound emerging from nothing, peaking, then diminishing again to nothing. Each time, we were again swallowed by the dark and the silence. No one saw us. They were all focused on the cave ahead, and didn’t think to look toward where we stood silent, our lights extinguished.

    This went on for awhile, and then hearing the sound begin again so far away, we listened carefully to its growth. This time it was different. There was an unusual density to the sound, combined with a distinctly increasing chaotic quality. As it approached, it got more and more chaotic, a crescendo of chaos. The light grew, as did the sound. We wondered. What on (or under) earth could this be. Louder and louder, it became almost deafening, and intensely agitating.

    As the light grew and the sound grew, individual voices began to emerge and then we saw the comedy unfold. It was perhaps two or three families with several lanterns. There were a whole bunch of children, complaining and crying. Somebody was eating a sandwich. One or two adults were smoking cigarettes. “Dad, why did you bring us here?” “I hate this place! It’s boring!” “I want to go home!” “I’m tired!” “Carry me!” Adult reply: “SHUT UP!” “You are grounded for a week!”

    What a great metaphor. These people had brought themselves to the cave, truly a wonderful place to experience and see, and had made sure that they wouldn’t see it. They had rented the lanterns, and the lanterns cast a bubble about them. They couldn’t see the luminescent patina on the walls; their light was too far off axis. They went all the way through the cave with the screaming kids, the cigarettes and sandwiches. They had packaged themselves in a darkproof box.

    All they had was what they had at home. Maybe it was even worse. They had none of the accustomed resources, and there was still a long way to go.

    Copyright Larry Bullis, 2004 —All Rights Reserved

    ————————————————

    Here are a couple of links to sites concerning “Ape Cave”

    http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/..._ape_cave.html

    http://www.oregonl5.org/lavatube/apeflow1.html
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Ape Cave #1.jpg  

  2. #2
    bowzart's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Anacortes, WA
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,217
    Images
    15
    I had posted a link to this text in a previous thread. I'm sure that not many saw it at the time.

  3. #3
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter
    8x10 Format
    Posts
    4,623
    Images
    40
    I think I remember this story from a while ago...

    Lava tubes are great. We went to Lava Beds National Monument (north and east of Mt Shasta, CA) a couple years ago and explored quite a few of them...nothing as long as the Ape Cave, but some up to a quarter mile or more, with different branches here and there...one place had us going in circles a little bit. But the darkness is absolute, good head gear is recommended (we did not have any and had a couple bloody, but shallow head gashes), and two flashlights per person! Some of the deeper tubes had ice floors.

    But one can only have what one takes with oneself. Occasionally one might gain some insight from such a unique experience, but insight is difficult to gain in such a crowd...it sounds like the kids (and the parents) needed a good grounding...a base from which to gain from the experience. Very little in modern life naturally prepares people for insightful experiences. So while not unexpected, one does wish that people would look, feel and otherwise sense...and thus gain from...such experiences as being in the lava tubes.

    I took the boys to the Redwoods today (also took the 8x10, but too much rain so it stayed in the van), a tradition I have for the the first day of the New Year. Very beautiful. I have three 11 year olds and I got a lot of mouth from a couple of them ("Its too wet!", etc) as we bushwacked through the soggy ferns. We explored on section of the creek, looking for salmon, but found none (medium-high water flow...not too clear). We went down to another section of creek and found a very recent fall of a giant redwood (perhaps 12 to 15 feet in diameter, a couple hundred feet long, but in several chunks with some splintering), so we used it as a way to get down to and across the creek. The boys refocused on the experience and there no more complaints. The boys bushwacked their way up the opposite slope to check out the hole created by the root ball of the fallen redwood. We ended up walking down (and in) the creek a ways , being careful not to step on any redds we might come across, but we all ended up wet to at least mid-thigh. We did end up finding one Chinook over a redd. We also came across a fishery biologist tracking fish movements by radio transmitters.

    So if one were listening to my boys earlier they would have a low opinion of how grounded they were...but later they might have been a bit amazed at the boys' sense of wonder and adventure in conditions that most would consider a bit cold wet and unpleasant.

    Vaughn
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  4. #4
    bowzart's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Anacortes, WA
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,217
    Images
    15
    That's wonderful, Vaughn. I've been in woods like that; redwoods (not where you are; Tamalpais) and of course up here in the great Pacific NorthWet. In the winter when it is cold and really wet, it is sort of like a cave unto itself, a big one, going on forever. I can hear the lack of sound; the quiet can be palpable, and the sense one (well, myself at least) gets of the self in that seemingly eternal and vast space can be almost too much to bear, with time stopped dead. The odors, resin and decay. All the creatures are doing what they do to stay dry; not a sight of any of them. Water on everything.

    When I looked at your images of the woods I got such a strong sense of that. For me it is very easy to see why you spend so much time there.

    Hardly anyone ever goes into them when it is like that, unless, like the fisheries fellow, doing some work.

  5. #5
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter
    8x10 Format
    Posts
    4,623
    Images
    40
    Quote Originally Posted by bowzart View Post
    Hardly anyone ever goes into them when it is like that, unless, like the fisheries fellow, doing some work.
    I (almost) feel sorry for the tourists coming through in the summer and only experiencing the redwoods with the sun out and things relatively dried out. Today the colors, especially the reds and the few yellows still left on some trees (mostly the cascarra), were very intense.

    I photograph the redwoods primarily in the late fall and onwards until the leaves start breaking out on the berries, alders and maples. Seeing anyone else is a rarity, like today.

    Vaughn
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  6. #6
    bowzart's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Anacortes, WA
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,217
    Images
    15
    The Olympic rain forest is like that, too. Sure, it is beautiful when the sun shines, but hard to photograph it because the light is so fragmented. Also, there is a sense that something isn't quite right. That's not what makes it what it is. Fog and rain does that, and under those conditions it looks just right. It isn't sunny there a lot; mostly in August/September.

    I pitched my tent there one August, though, and the weather decided to be typical of the rain forest. It rained all night, and in the morning a coffee cup that had been left out was half full of water. I had seen a sign for someone selling dry firewood up the road, and went up there to get some. I mentioned the cup to the guy. He said "It was a light rain; usually they are full and overflowing". I think Forks gets something like 130" of rain / year. It's hard to shoot there just because it is a couple hundred mile trip, and you don't know whether there will be a time to work when you and your equipment won't just get soaked. It's beautiful, though, even if you have to watch it from inside the car.

    I must be about due for a trip over that way. Been thinking about it a lot lately.

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter
    8x10 Format
    Posts
    4,623
    Images
    40
    Since taking up carbon printing, I can now translate the type of light striking through the redwoods on sunny days...the process can handle those extremes. It is one of the reasons I love the process so. But it does make for more challenges. There is more apt to be a bit of a breeze on sunny days. The light shifts far more quickly compared to having the giant softbox of a light overcast or fog. And as you mentioned, the light seems to be almost foreign to the temperate rain forest. But I have gotten some nice images despite all that.

    In my early pre-photo days, I had hitched-hike up the coast, semi-heading to Alaska, but really without enough money to get there. Spent 4th of July in Forks...camped in a small campground just south of town...in the rain, of course. But dry during the day for the "big" parade through town. This must have been '73 or '74. An interesting town to be a long-haired hippy in. I got up to Port Angeles but figured I did not have enough money for the Canadians to let me thru, so I proceeded to thumb back down the coast to Humboldt County.

    The Good Old Days

    Vaughn
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  8. #8
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Coast, BC, Canada
    Shooter
    4x5 Format
    Posts
    4,195
    Images
    15
    I had a similar experience about halfway between Kitimat and Bella Bella while sea kayaking BC's inside passage. It was mid November and my wife and I hadn't met or talked to anybody else in a month. We were camped on a steep hillside in a very narrow channel where we had found an out wash fan big enough to get the kayaks out of the water. The weather had been thick with mist and rain almost every day, and the 16 hour nights helped deepen the sense of isolation.

    Sitting under the rain tarp in front of our tent I could hear a 'thrumming' getting closer and closer. Out of the mist and darkness, through the trees, a passenger ferry passed close enough I could have hit it with a sling shot. The people inside were moving about in the incredibly bright interior, talking, walking around, or swilling booze in the bar. They had no idea we were there, watching them. Then the light and thrumming disappeared into the dark, leaving us alone in perfect stillness.

    Weren't you slightly tempted to start screaming like insane Banshee's when the annoying group went past?

    Murray
    _________________________________________
    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  9. #9
    bowzart's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Anacortes, WA
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,217
    Images
    15
    In 1989 I was photographing in Forks on a project. I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, which for me, means wearing bright red coveralls and a red Effenem crusher (the loggers' favorite hat). I had left my opinions at home - a trick one (hopefully) learns as a photojournalist. The camera was pointed at the saw shop. Somebody came out and yelled at me "Are you an environmentalist?". I got out of there (having got the shot I needed). I knew that they wouldn't be likely to understand my lack of malice and wishing to see both sides. (CAVE? - we're each in our own cave, aren't we?) Tempers were hot. I know my rights, but I also have no desire to be "dead right". I like Forks a lot, actually, and I like the people there that I've met. I also like to stay in the cabins down in La Push. Being in LaPush in the winter is Definitely being in a cave! I think Forks is doing a lot better now, but I haven't been there. As I say, due for a trip!

    I saw that light in your carbons. No question about it, you really have managed to contain those values and make them absolutely sing. We still haven't got around to diving into it, but I'm sure we will. We'll have to enlarge Jane's negatives to do it. And I guess I better get used to the idea of packing those big cameras around again.

  10. #10
    bowzart's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Anacortes, WA
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,217
    Images
    15
    Quote Originally Posted by MurrayMinchin View Post
    ...
    Weren't you slightly tempted to start screaming like insane Banshee's when the annoying group went past?

    Murray
    Actually, that would have been a good thing to do. As it was, we just stood there in shock, more or less. Then we turned on our lights and made our way back to the end of the cave.

    Your experience with the ferry really does correspond dead on to the cave experience.

    Not to feel somehow superior or smug, it probably helps to know that someone else might be watching ME as I watch the others. I guess I could honestly say that I try to be that someone else watching me as much as possible. The better our view of the context of our own cave, the better we can see.

    I think we usually see ourselves as objectively "seeing" - that is, we don't ask questions about the quality of our seeing at the moment of seeing. We are aware of what we see, but not of the process. There is me, and there is that. I see That. We rarely consider the conditions that bear upon the act of seeing - especially while we are there. We are rarely aware that it is quite possible that I see I. That is there, but what I see may be what I'm projecting upon it, which is to say, I see what I myself have invented. Most likely with no consciousness whatever.

    Maybe later insight would come. Maybe much later.

    Kayaking there in mid November must be a LOT like that cave like experience we've been discussing, of being in the forest in the wet. I understand it is not exactly dry where you are!

    L.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast


 

APUG PARTNERS EQUALLY FUNDING OUR COMMUNITY:



Contact Us  |  Support Us!  |  Advertise  |  Site Terms  |  Archive  —   Search  |  Mobile Device Access  |  RSS  |  Facebook  |  Linkedin