Lava Canyon Hike

After three days of being stuck inside with a migraine, when I woke up the following morning pain-free, I knew I had to get outside and celebrate! I decided to go to Lava Canyon in Mount St. Helens National Park and I went solo, as it was a Monday.

When you enter the canyon, you are greeted with friendly signs like this...

Comforting right? But I pushed on. The Canyon is beautiful. You will pass by incredible rock formations carved out by the last eruption in 1980, waterfalls, mossy streams, a suspension bridge, a descent down a 40 foot metal ladder and steep cliffs. And yeah, they weren't kidding about those. I am not afraid of heights and at one point I exclaimed, "are you f*#@!ing kidding me?," OUT LOUD...  to myself. This happened when I came around a bend after being on what I thought was a narrow trail and saw a narrower trail covered only with loose dirt and gravel, no rails and a steep drop to the right. But, not one to be deterred by a challenge, I kept going. Don't look down... Don't. Look. Down.

If you keep going, you will be rewarded with some great views and interesting changes in terrain.

The whole hike is about 6 miles (out and back) and about 1.5 hours from Portland. Totally doable for the occasional hiker. The best thing about this hike is the variety. I tend to get bored easily and there were never a shortage of surprises at this location. I didn't find the hike as strenuous as my guidebook said, but it was still a good workout. The most challenging part was mental.

My advice: 

• Wear shoes with good traction.
• Do not attempt this hike with dogs or small children, if you are hungover or afraid of heights. Other than that, you should be fine.
• Stay on the trail (as the millions of signs tell you)!!
• Don't fall off the cliffs, you will probably die.