I have lived in Western Washington long enough yet had never been to Mt. St. Helens. I think a big part of this was that I was actually a little scared. Volcanoes really freak me out! Even just looking at the pictures of the horrible eruption at Mt. St. Helens in the ’80s, I can’t even imagine what that must have been like at the time.
But my boyfriend kept telling me how cool of an experience it is to walk through the Ape Caves at the mountain. We’d talked about it for a while and I finally agreed to go. I had gone long enough without going to the mountain and was really just curious what it was like there.
We made a day trip out of it because it takes literally 4 hours to get there and it was a beautiful sunny day!
Once we arrived at the cave entrance, I was starting to get a little nervous, just because you’re essentially walking down the stairs into a black hole. Just a little spooky!
There were two trails of caves to do, the upper and lower. We did the lower trail first which is about a 1/2 mile round trip. I think for the first 5-10 minutes of walking through I would not let go of my boyfriend because I was so freaked out! But after getting used to it, I actually enjoyed it a lot! It was a really cool experience. We were walking underground in the darkest dark I have ever been in, like could not see a thing except using a flashlight to see right in front of you. It was about 40 degrees throughout the caves and every once in a while there would be these gusts of wind and breeze going through which was kinda cool but also kinda creepy. There were a couple of other people walking through this trail at the same time which honestly made me feel so much better, even little toddlers! I definitely relaxed after that and thought it was super cool and something different that I had never done before.
After we finished the lower cave trail, I was in desperate need of some daylight and warmth before deciding if we wanted to do the upper trail as well. I had my doubts for this one just because this trail was 1 1/4 mile long. I figured it’d be best to do this trail as well since we drove so long to get here and probably won’t be going back anytime soon.
At first, I regretted it. Because within the first 5 minutes of walking through the trail, you arrive at this huge open field of basically these massive piles of rocks that you have to climb over just to get where you’re going. And once you get to the other side, there are about 2-3 “trails” that seem like the right way to go but end up leading you to a dead end. We were surrounded by so much darkness and rock that we literally could no longer tell which way we came from or which way we were going. The trails are not marked so you basically just have to guess. I was getting SO freaked out! This is one of like my biggest nightmares, getting trapped underground with no way out, being in complete darkness and no one knows you’re there. Of course, we were basically the only people on this trail, did not make me feel any better at all.
But after this moment of panic, we finally found the right way and kept walking through. Eventually, I forgot about the moment of panic and was so intrigued by all of the cool things in this long trail. Boulders to climb over, a huge skylight near the end where you could see the sky and the trees until we eventually made it out. While it was definitely scary at first, I really enjoyed the trails! Cave exploring is definitely not something you can do every day, so it was very cool to experience.
After cave exploring, we spent a while driving around the mountain just to see it and take some pictures. It’s so weird to see a mountain with it’s top blown off, just makes me wonder what it looked like before the eruption. Although it was really cool to be there knowing all of its history.
While conquering some of my fears and exploring new things and new places, this was probably the highlight of my week! Have any of you ever gone cave exploring or been to Mt St Helens? Let me know in the comments section below!
Thanks for reading!