Braving The Snow to Revisit Layser Cave

More interesting was the discovery of beads made from ocean shells and arrows made from obsidian only found in Oregon.

Short History of Layser Cave

This wasn’t our first visit to this unique archeological site, but there’s something complying about Layser Cave that keeps bringing us back. The site was discovered in 1982 by a Forest Service employee named Tim Layser, who was canvassing the area for a timber sale. When he discovered the cave, it had lain undisturbed for almost 4,000 years.

High Tower
Looking across the valley from the mouth of Laysers Cave towards High Tower.

Artifacts included animal bones and stone tools, mostly arrowheads and blades made from local rocks. It was confirmed that at least 108 different deer were butchered at Layser Cave by the native people who inhabited it. More interesting was the discovery of beads made from ocean shells and arrows made from obsidian only found in Oregon — indicating trade links throughout the pre-Columbia Northwest.

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More interesting was the discovery of beads made from ocean shells and arrows made from obsidian only found in Oregon.

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Winter Visit

As mentioned, we’ve been up here a few times although never in the winter. As we gained altitude in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest the snow started getting deeper although the roadways were clear. Once we turned off onto the double track things changed. We eventually decided to stop and hike the remainder of the way as that seemed quicker than having to recover the FJ should be hit a deep pocket of snow.

Seeing the entrance to the cave and surrounding area blanketed in snow it was much easier to imagine using the cave as shelter. There was proof found that many deer were butcher in the cave so I’m sure it would be relatively easy to fashion a deerskin door to cover the entrance with perhaps a small gap to allow smoke to escape.

Seeing the entrance to the cave and surrounding area blanketed in snow it was much easier to imagine using the cave as shelter. There was proof found that many deer were butcher in the cave so I’m sure it would be relatively easy to fashion a deerskin door to cover the entrance with perhaps a small gap to allow smoke to escape.

I’m not ready to give up the comforts of our modern basecamp, but I can see that the cave could be a welcomed and cozy shelter from the winter storms raging outside. With a cozy fire and furs spread on the floor, it’s not hard to imagine its occupants being very grateful for the find.

If you’d like to explore this spot you can find directions here.

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