Seems nothing comes easy when visiting Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Or at least that’s been my experience. It took multiple attempts to reach Spirit Lake and the same held true while trying to make our way to Layser Cave, an archeology significant site located just off the beaten track. Our first attempt at reaching the site resulted in a blown shock.
Our second attempt up the hill was successful, but when I saw the misfortune some other traveler experienced I admit I began to wonder a bit about curses and what was up with this place. Just of the trailhead was a large double axle RV that had burned down to the frame. I felt far less grieved over my shock after seeing that!
Layser Cave is accessed by a very short walk from a grassy field just two miles up a muddy washboard road off of Cispus Road. The turnoff is well marked so you can’t miss it. Sames hold true for the trailhead.
Discovered in 1982, archeologist have determined that the cave served as a dwelling for American Indians beginning about 7,000 years ago, the caves were abandoned about 3,500 years ago when an eruption of Mount St. Helens forced the people to leave. Artifacts found in bottom of the cave suggest that the inhabitants smoked game, tanned hides for clothing, and apparently were doing well enough that they had time to make jewelry. Seashells from the coast were found strung into necklaces.
Standing in the center of the small dome I tried to imagine what it would have been like with the floor covered in hides, a warm fire reflecting off the walls while I watched snow or rain fall outside. Although I might find it lacking by today’s standards, I sure it was the height of luxury during it’s day.