The second day of our St. Helen’s vacation started out just fine. We consumed our breakfast in the hotel room and got on the road. We had decided to swing through the southern and eastern routes on our way home, seeing some of the more dramatic sights of our trip. The first stop was at Ape Cave, essentially a cave formed from a lava flow a couple thousand years ago.
There are lanterns to rent, and you’ll need them if you go, because it is dark. These are some great geological features and they are also cold. It was beginning to rain a little, which was odd, because when we left Seattle it was forecast to be in the 90′s, but the temperature hadn’t hit 70 degrees as we arrived at Ape Cave, and we certainly hadn’t packed for such an occasion. Laura went in and not only rented a lantern and flashlight, but also purchased a sweatshirt, a T-shirt, and two fleece vests. Unfortunately there were no kid sized items, so the best that could be managed was adult small as well as piling on as much of the extra clothes we had as possible.
There are two paths, one easy and one more difficult. Because we were traversing the caves with small children, we obviously took the easier route. The “lower” cave is about ¾ of a mile long and is incredible enough to get a great impression of what happened. At times the walls and floor are smooth, and other times the floor is strewn with rough lava rocks. It is an awesome sight – if you managed to bring a light source.
Déla, however, while impressed with nature’s spectacle, doesn’t care for dark enclosed spaces. We are beginning to think she has a mild form of claustrophobia, a suspicion we started to have a year ago when she freaked out on an airplane, specifically in the bathroom. A while into the hike she started to really want to be done. We assured her that we were almost at the end, and we thought we were. I mean, how far can ¾ of a mile be? Turns out the section of the cave we were in was a dead end. Thankfully Laura had brought along the brochure describing the place which mentioned that fact. We then turned around, after having reached the dead end, and raced back to the entrance as safely and quickly as we could.
All told we spent about an hour and 15 minutes underground, and it was easily one of the more impressive natural wonders I have seen. I wish I had been able to get some better pictures. If you ever decide to visit Mt. St. Helens, make some time to visit the southern area, because it amazing.