Conditions were far different from my last visit. Due to our protracted Spring with its late snows, there is a large amount of snow remaining on Monitor Ridge, the trail up to the crater rim and on the rim itself. This caused me a fair amount of concern but communications with others who had recently climbed made me feel I could do this again.
I drove down early on Saturday as I wanted to visit Ape Caves. This lava tube is part of the Volcano Monument and was discovered in 1948. It is not named for Bigfoot, but rather a name for a Scout troop that frequented the area. This tube formed when lava flowed and cooled creating a tube which liquid lava could continue to flow through. After the activity ended, the tube remained hollow. A cave-in led to its discovery many centuries later.
The rocky line is what you follow to the top. You can see that the snow is a main feature. Large posts mark the way. Many people opted for walking the snow on the other side of the ridge all the way up. I decided to stick to the rocks until the last mile.
I cannot imagine who worked on getting these posts up to the area and erected. They are huge. Prayer flags are found on most mountain summits but this pole on the way up had some as well.
Mt Rainier, Spirit Lake and the east rim of the crater.
Mt Adams to the east. See the small red flag to the left of the ski poles? You don't want to cross that point. Where we are standing is the true rim, everything else is subject to change. The man in the cap is our trip leader and if you look to the left of his feet you can see a crack in the shelf.