If you know me, you know that I am the type of person who likes to plan things out ahead of time and have a strategic plan mapped out for every step of the way. When a friend says we should go hiking, I take care of everything, from choosing to the destination, to choosing the best/most scenic drive there, all the way to making lunch, and reserving a post hike dinner. It is safe to say that I love planning out trips and vacations, because I love exploring new places, especially the outdoors in the great northwest.
Now, despite the fact that I like to plan things out ahead of time, I am also a sucker for spur of the moment type activities. So, when a couple of friends hit me up a few weekends ago to go on a new hike, how could I resist? I use the word new, because I used to live in Gresham Oregon and had the whole Mt. Hood National Forest in my backyard. I have probably climbed Multnomah Falls (and surrounding areas, Larch Mountain, horsetail falls, wahkeena falls etc. etc.) several dozen times. So for me, those spots get boring. Considering the fact that I live in Vancouver now and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is not too far, I said lets go in that direction.
For some reason, I felt like riding my motorcycle up there so I asked my friends if they could all get in the same car and follow me, and they said yes. That was my first mistake of the day. The second mistake was heading there at 5 in the afternoon, and the third mistake was heading there totally unprepared in tank tops, shorts, and without water.
I had read about a place called the Ape Caves, on the south side of Mt. St Helens. Since I have a good sense of direction, I managed to lead my friends there without getting lost. We got there at about 7:30pm; the sun looked like it was setting. It was super cold, and we were hungry, but we figured since we already made the drive, we had to go in. Once we were deep inside the cold dark cave, I realized that maybe I should have charged my phone. My other friend’s phones were dead, and that was the only light source we had. Needless to say, we made it out alive, and our vehicles were still there when we returned.
Now we are on top of a mountain, in the middle of nowhere, with our phones dead, at 10pm in the night. I deeply regretted driving my motorcycle, because I was exhausted and cold. None of my other friends knew how to drive/ride a bike so I had to take it all the way back home. That was the coldest, roughest ride of my motorcycle career (a few months). The good thing was that I knew the way back home, and my friends were following me to be safe.
Somehow we all managed to make it back to my home safe and sound. When we arrived at my house, I found out that my parents were really worried and almost called the mountain rescue patrol to come get us.
Perhaps we did get in a little over our heads, but if I had to do it over again, I would do it all the same – except the motorcycle part. I learned my lesson on riding in the mountains at night.
I am thankful for that trip though, because I fell in love with the nature of the beautiful mountain. I have made it a point to go back to that spot several times now (in the day time of course), and my current goal is to climb to the top of Mt. St. Helens