Stopping at the bottom of the gully, I survey the climb in front of me. The path nearly disappears into the bleached white slope with the icy holes left in the snow by previous mountain wanderers being my only means of navigation, I plot my course one literal step at a time. I place my feet into each hole as if I am walking a set of stairs made of an unknown strangers staggering footsteps. I can see the places where their boots slipped on the rocks below the snow and their hand prints where they caught balance on the frozen bank. As I progress I begin to think of the tracks as if I was being lead up the mountainside by a ghost.
For centuries caves have filled and twisted mans imagination, filled with the unknown and the unseen, a world beneath our world. Walking through the Ape Cave of Mt. St. Helens my imagination filled and illuminated every crack and crevasse, every image of every horror movie and Gollum riddled scene races through my head at every corner. With my head lamp shut off I can not see my own hands, other than the occasional reverberation of fellow travelers and cave admires voices, I only hear the echoed drips of water sifting through the earth and landing in puddled corners of the cave and my own breath and footsteps. This somewhat ominous scenery is at the same time very peaceful, I image this is the closest feeling to being dead or unborn that any breathing human can experience.