“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle
If you’ve ever wandered off into a place completely new to you, you are probably familiar with that feeling of excitement and curiosity that takes over you as you discover and explore.
Some of Earth’s places are simply stunning.
And the ice caves at Big Four Mountain is one of those places. Perhaps more so because you’d never imagine such a place could exist so close to our city. At just two hours away from Seattle, the Big Four Ice Caves sit among the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway.
But they are dangerously captivating. Mother Earth can be absolutely beautiful yet absolutely dangerous.
So please DO NOT VENTURE OUT without first hearing me out:
People have been killed here, others have been hurt.
- Please understand that the caves are formed from avalanche debris piling at the base of Big Four Mountain. Therefore, you’ll be walking in avalanche zone.
- Do not walk too far onto the snow fields. You are not on a plowed ski resort. It may seem like you’re walking on a solid hill of snow, but in reality you may be stepping on a thin sheet of snow over very deep holes or crevasses.
- And lastly, do not go into the caves. It is advised to observe them from a safe distance. Rock and ice collapse unexpectedly in and around those caves, and yes, it has cost somebody’s life.
In 1998, a 27-year-old woman was killed when an ice arch collapsed over her. And in 2010, an 11-year-old girl was also killed when a chunk of ice the size of an SUV came tumbling down. Several other people have been injured over the years. But for those who have unfortunately lost their lives, may you rest in heaven and be watching over everyone who visits <3 …
Fully aware of the warnings and respectful of the fact that people’s lives had been lost here, we ventured out to Big Four Ice Caves completely unexpectedly. This was actually day 2 of our overnight weekend adventure after visiting Goat Lake the day before (blog post coming soon). It turned out to be unforgettable!
Don’t forget your forest passI You can purchase it at the Verlot Public Service Center ($5 a day). The hike itself was only 1 mile and had cute boardwalks throughout the forest. The trail was very well-maintained and easily accessible.
…Isn’t it a great feeling walking among giants? They make my ginormous bf look teeny-weeny!
Stunning views along the way! Right below this bridge was a beautiful crystalline creek that my bf later dove into. Haha!
And as you near the last portion of the hike, you are again reminded of the possible dangers.
Please do not ignore the warnings. Be careful. Stay safe. And adventure on!
When we reached the end of the hike, we ventured toward the foot of the mountain and away from the ‘safe zone’. As we admired how grand the mountain was, this little gal came to say hello to my bf.
Several minutes later, she was still fluttering around us and kept landing back on his hand. Strange right? She must have been the friendliest butterfly I have ever met.
And then she fluttered onto my hand. It was the first time a butterfly has ever landed on me, and no matter how much I moved my hand to get a closer look, she wouldn’t fly away. And I remembered long ago reading that some people believe butterflies landing on you are special messages from heaven…or the universe.
And call me sappy, but I couldn’t help but think that she was a special little message from a person whose life was unfortunately lost at this very place. A message sent to remind us to stay safe despite our excitement.
At the time I didn’t know any details about the lost lives, but after we left I came across the online articles. According to The Seattle Times, just minutes before the arch collapsed on her, the 27-year-old woman, Catherine, had mentioned to her husband that this was her favorite place in nature and wished she could stay here forever.
I am convinced the butterfly was Catherine’s spirit reminding us to stay careful and respectful of this wonderful place she loved so much. Thank you, Catherine.
BIG FOUR ICE CAVES
Snow in late June! YES! The day was really warm, so that snowy, natural air conditioner felt so right! ;) But look at how HUGE this place is! We were seriously captivated by its grandness.
Look closely at the photo below. Can you spy the couple running up the hill of ice? Tiny, right?! I was really concerned for these two, by the way. They went as far as the log in the middle of the hill. Please do not do this…
The first side of the caves were not as amazing as the ones to the right of the first snow field. We could see waterfalls at a distance and decided to venture out toward them.
And I am glad we did! This is the real gem. There was a small section of snow we had to walk over, and I was so scared we’d fall through at any moment, but the worst crevasse I stepped through was only about a foot high.
I was fully aware that this arch could have easily collapsed.
Don’t be fooled by the photos. We were only steps from the entrance of the ice cave and nowhere deep inside the cave.
GoPro shots! You need to really see this place in person. And every year, every time of year they will look completely different and just as spectacular! I’ve seen photos on Instagram…he he he.
We couldn’t help ourselves… !!!
Bliss! And absolutely refreshing! Yes, with ice caves a couple of feet away…
Would you jump under the waterfall?
Our intentions were to spend the morning exploring these caves and then head out to Lake 22 for the rest of the afternoon. Yeah, that didn’t happen. This place kept our full attention! What a perfect, sunny day…with views for days!
And when we were finally done…remember this bridge?
Yes he did! It was sooo cold! But apparently very inviting.
Welcome to this life…
How did you welcome summer solstice?
I came back from this weekend feeling so refreshed and ready to tackle another work week. It has been so busy at work for the past couple of months, and the last two weeks have especially been hectic! So making these weekend escapes really eases my mind and reminds me to appreciate what I have.
I can lose myself in my work, in the monthly bills, in the daily stress…But I First, Live!
May you all have a wonderful start to your summer.
With Love from the PNW,
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These pictures are amazing!! I lived in Seattle for awhile and I’m really annoyed that I never knew about this place!!! I hope those Ice caves are still there when I return! :)
Thank you! :)
This place is truly amazing! But don’t feel bad…I’ve lived in WA my entire life and also only just discovered these caves. I can only imagine how many other great places are hidden.
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