Taking a Geological Tour of the Ape Cave With the Mount St. Helens Institute

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle Located on the south side of Mount St. Helens, the Ape Cave Lava Tube is a popular attraction in the Mount St. Helens National Monument and the longest lava tube in the continental United States at more than two miles in length. The cave is open for self-guided exploration year-round (although the site is often inaccessible due to heavy snows in winter). Ranger guided tours are available June through early September. Last Saturday, I took the opportunity to…

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Under the Open Sky: A Little Help Here, Please

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle “A little help here, please” was a phrase my granddaughter used quite a bit while we were practicing our casting skills along the Cowlitz River at the Barrier Dam last week. Every time her line would get tangled into a mess of twisted line, she’d call out. “A little help here, please” seemed an appropriate title for today’s commentary. Why? I’m feeling a lot less poetical about the outdoors today and am feeling a lot more of righteous…

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Your Best Bet for Fishing: Try Riffe Lake

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle Rivers and Streams The Cowlitz River is running low on the weekends and high during the week. “The Cowlitz River stinks,” said Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at the Sunbird Shopping Center. “Some of the guides I’ve talked to said they’ve floated from Blue Creek to Toledo averaging only four bites and they’re throwing everything they’ve got at ‘em. They’re looking to the second week in August for the steelhead to really come in strong.” Tracy Borsom of…

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Happy Birthday to Dad — Fish On!

Amy Hendrickson / Courtesy photos Robin Hendrickson of Chehalis holds up a 65-pound king salmon caught last week during a fishing trip of a lifetime in Kenai, Alaska. Next to Robin Hendrickson is his dad, Jerry Hendrickson, who reeled in the lunker. Son bought the trip for his dad’s 70th birthday. They rented a motor home in Anchorage and spent two days fishing with a guide in Kenai, before switching locations to Seward (Robin also caught a 38-pound king). In Seward they targeted halibut, ling…

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The Fierce Beauty and Ecology of Snags

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle A dead or dying, partly hollowed tree may be considered by some to be an eyesore in the landscape and hardly worth preserving, but to many birds and mammals, a “wildlife tree” or “snag” is a vital source of food, shelter and safety. By allowing a snag to stand in your yard — as long as it isn’t creating a danger — you can provide an important habitat for wildlife. Snags are used for nests, nurseries, storage areas,…

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