8/24/18 - trail is once again open.
Please note - only messages sent through the message center will receive responses from me until late September, 2018 due to lack of internet access while I am traveling out of the country. I will send complete responses when I return.
There is a $25 entrance fee for this park, good for 7 consecutive days. Alternatives are Annual and Golden Age passes.
From the north bridge at Box Canyon
Box Canyon is an enigma. It is unusual to have such a narrow, deep, and steep walled canyon (or gorge) in a glaciated area. More typical at Mount Rainier are U-shaped, glacially carved canyons such as Stevens Canyon.
To log this cache - Read each of the three sections, observe as requested at the stated coordinates, and answer the question at the end of each section based on presented information and your observations. If there will be a delay between your found log and your answers being sent, note that so that I don't delete your found log. It is best if you send answers and then immediately log your find. Note that there are no "correct" answers. If your responses are thoughtful and complete, based on the stated locations and quesitons, they are "correct."
There are three given locations at the stated coordinates and waypoints 1 and 2. There are three tasks and questions to answer while visiting the three locations.
Task 1: Some state that Box Canyon is, geographically, a box canyon - a canyon with steep walls on three sides allowing access only through the mouth of the canyon. Others state that it is slot canyon - a canyon that is significantly deeper than wide, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock.
What to do: Visit the three given locations. At the two bridges, look down into the canyon on the north side of each to see the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River directly below you. At the viewpoint near waypoint 2, observe the panoramic view of the canyon and river.
Question 1: After visiting the three given locations tell whether you would call this a slot canyon or a box canyon and give reasons for your answer.
Task 2: There are differing opinions related to the formation and history of Box Canyon, which cuts through a ridge of old lava known as Ohanapecosh rock. One thought is that a rift was formed as a result of cooling of the volcanic rocks. Another is that the rift was caused by earthquakes. Some say that the rift was at one time filled with an intrusive dike of softer material which was eroded away over time by the force of the water flow.
What to do: At the north bridge (stated coordinates) stand on the north side of bridge and look down. Observe the canyon carefully (a strong light may help if it is a dark day) and take a few minutes to be amazed while thinking about which way you think the canyon was formed.
Question 2: At the stated coordinates, note the difference between the upper and lower portions of the wall, compare the difference and tell how you think each section (upper and lower) was formed and what you saw that leads you to that conclusion.
Task 3: One thing about which there is common agreement is that as you walk between the three sets of coordinates, is that you are walking over glaciated terrain. The rocks here were polished by the Cowlitz glacier about 10,000 years ago.
What to do: As you walk along the paved trail between the two bridges, and then especially near waypoint 2, look for evidence that the glacier once covered this area.
Question 3: After your walk to the 3 locations, and while at waypoint 2, give two things you have seen that are evidences that a glacier receded from this area.
Sources include Mount Rainier rangers and Geology Underfoot in Western Washington by Dave Tucker
This earthcache was written to be used as part of the Visit Rainier Centennial GeoTour - 100 geocaches to celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service. While the GeoTour has ended, can still enjoy visiting many of these special places. Check this bookmark to see the original 100 GeoTour caches.
A National Parks pass or entry fee is required to enter Mount Rainier National Park.