At 8:32 Sunday Morning, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens Erupted Shaken by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, the north face of this tall symmetrical mountain collapsed in a massive rock debris avalanche. In a few moments this slab of rock and ice slammed into Spirit Lake, crossed a ridge 1,300 feet high, and roared 14 miles down the Toutle River. The avalanche rapidly released pressurized gases within the volcano. A tremendous lateral explosion ripped through the avalanche and developed into a turbulent, stone-filled wind that swept over ridges and toppled trees. Nearly 150 square miles of forest was blown over or left dead and standing. At the same time a mushroom-shaped column of ash rose thousands of feet skyward and drifted downwind, turning day into night as dark, gray ash fell over eastern Washington and beyond. Wet, cement-like slurries of rock and mud scoured all sides of the volcano. Searing flows of pumice poured from the crater. The eruption lasted 9 hours, but Mount St. Helens and the surrounding landscape were dramatically changed within moments. A vast, gray landscape lay where once the forested slopes of Mount St. Helens grew. In 1982 the President and Congress created the 110,000-acre National Volcanic Monument for research, recreation, and education. Inside the Monument, the environment is left to respond naturally to the disturbance.
I wouldn't bring kids under 10 in the current weather conditions, plenty of snow about 2 feet, really had to look for the blue diamonds on the trees that lead you back to the parking lot. snow parking permit pass is required which cost us 22 dollars for the day at the deli in Cougar. the self service at park still had 5 dollars listed as the price since we went there the first day of snow. boots above ankle and headlamps with extra batteries strongly recommended for the cave.
first of all, the photo with the suspension bridge belongs at the Lava Canyon Trail not Apes Cave. Misleading content. I completed both today. The caves are amazing and you should check it out. the upper caves may require a bit of additional assistance for non experienced hikers.
I made the mistake of going after a snow storm and the the trail was completely covered in downed trees at the top of the first mountain. Pretty cool but save this one for a sunny day. Wonderful views of Mt Adams, Mt St. Helens and the Columbia Gorge range.
Great hike. Headlamps are a plus so you can have your hands free to climb over the many rock pile obstacles. The lava wall and a couple of really tight spaces to get through made for an awesome experience. I've never experienced complete darkness until this. It wasn't as crowded on the day/time we went and if you turned off all your light sources, you could not see the person standing next to you. Would do this again for sure!