Ape Caves

May 15, 2007

The Ape Caves are the third largest lava tube in the contiguous United States. The cave is located near Ape Canyon on Mount St. Helens, where in 1924 miners were attacked by ape like creatures. That’s how the cave and canyon earned their names. Recently one of the miners, now on his deathbed, confessed it was a hoax. But since no-one else backed him up so I say the jury is still out. The cave’s name and folklore add to the mysterious sensation of being surrounded by darkness and silence, miles under the ground. As a kid I always enjoyed this place and so one fine day I decided to take my little siblings up to the caves to do some exploring. So, these are our pics…

Mount St. Helens…

Swift reservoir (I made some good memories on that island on the left there when I was a kid)…

Nequeshe was happy to get out of the car…

This is the mouth of the Ape Caves….

My brother Richard and Nequeshe in the cave…



Eventually we reached the end of the cave. And there, the floor of the cave under a concave wall, my lantern caught some torn pants (if you watched the video you know what I mean). Then, in the shot below, we ran into a pile of rocks and dirt. Well, did my best to convince my siblings the two were connected.

I know this picture is lousy, but it’s all I have of us crawling. I enhanced it, but it’s still almost unrecognizable…

In the pic below I’m trying my hardest not to smile, my scary story was working…

After crawling for about 50ft the cave opened up and we could rest a bit.

Then it got really tiny again, but we made it past this…

And then it got really, really.  This is as far as we got.  Richard probably could have gone a little further, but we were staying together and playing it safe.  So we call it a day.

Oh, and we shot some videos with my digital camera. They’re really low res, but here they are…

At the end of the cave…


…And crawling back…


The whole cave is about 13,000ft long, and maybe 5-100ft deep. It takes about two hours to walk from one end to the other. It’s always 45 degrees cold in the cave, so for us it was a much appreciated two hour break from a hot spring day.

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