Ape Cave, Mount St. Helen's
Walking almost a mile underground. 42 degrees. Chilled, earthy air. No flashlights. We rent lanterns and descend into NA's longest lava tube (almost 2 miles!) The high arch on this 2,000 year old tube made as lava cooled about the rushing, soaring stream of lava that ran below. The walls are rough, rocky and sharp at points.
We walk on and on. It's the ultimate quiet--except for the chatter of another subterranean group of hikers. We turn our lanterns off. And it's that pitch, pitch black I experienced in Kenya. The darkness surrounds you. Envelops you, until you no longer exist. We became one with the dark.
We continue and the tube narrows. The brave in our group make it (slipping through crevices on their bellies) to the very end. It's as odd feeling being so far down. So far removed from light or anything living. Gives me a good sense of the mood I must reinforce in my current novel.
Dark vs. light, and everything in between.
Volcanic water. Rushing, liquid turquoise. The raw energy. The re-grown vitality of St. Helens. Astonishing. Beautiful. Solid. Just like a man we all love. Bud Hubbard. What a gift to have taken this trip with him. Wisdom. Compassion. Goodness. All rolled into one. . We will always honor what he has passed onto us. Regrowing with every breath, just like this great mountain. Just like this great man.
We miss you, Bud. Forever.