Damien and I set out over the weekend with the goal of finally climbing Mount Saint Helens. I’ve been meaning to climb it for 3.5 years and he 7 years! We arrived a day ahead though to camp and explore Ape Caves which is the longest lava tube in America (2.5 miles). It is a popular destination so be prepared for crowds.

The entrance to Ape Caves is well marked and reached by walking on a short path from the parking lot. There are metal stairs that lead to the middle of the cave. We turned right and walked through the easy lower cave which looks like a mine shaft. There are some cool features like the “meatball” pictured below. A light source if, of course, required for the underground trail. The lower cave dead ends and we turned back the way be came.

Back up the stairs we followed a trail to the Upper cave Entrance and stepped gingerly down a metal ladder. This section of the cave has piles of rubble and talus throughout unlike the mostly level lower cave. The piles of rock are pretty stable though and fun to navigate through. There is one area with a hand line to assist with a call five move. We ended up meeting up with the lower cave (we didn’t know the two were attached… if we’d turned left on our first entrance we would have headed up the upper cave trail). We exited up the stairs and headed back to camp.

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