Climbing Mount St. Helens

What Is The Most Scared You’ve Ever Been?

Since it’s Nothing to Fear Day, I’ll answer one of my most frequently asked questions: “What is the most scared you’ve ever been while out volcano hopping?” 😱

While there’s always a risk with volcanoes, I’m constantly keeping my eyes and ears open. And I never turn my back on the lava. To this point, I’ve never been really afraid on a volcano. Do I have a healthy respect for them? Absolutely! And nothing gets your heart pounding more than looking down and seeing a river of lava running a couple feet beneath your boots when you didn’t exactly expect it to be there.

We’ve been very fortunate hiking that there haven’t been any injuries, major earthquakes, steam explosions, or unexpected eruptions. Those would definitely rank on my list. Fingers crossed that track record continues!

My scariest moment on an active volcano actually had little to do with the volcano itself – but more with an inhabitant of its slopes. You see, spiders love volcanoes. And I REALLY don’t love spiders. Victor Hugo once said that they’re “the most misunderstood of all God’s creatures.” Maybe so. But they still freak me out. Especially if they catch me by surprise.

Last summer, we were climbing down Mount St. Helens‘ boulder field in the dark. Headlamps on and moon in the sky, we could see pretty well for as dark as it was. I reached for a boulder and gripped it as I took the next step down. A very large wolf spider (about the size of a half dollar – what are they feeding them up there?!) decided to go tap dancing across the back of my hand as I was mid-step.

If I’d have let go of that boulder to shake him off, I would have taken a tumble down the 1,000′ ravine just behind me. He just wanted to see if I had my wits about me, I guess, because the cheeky thing did it AGAIN. I really had to make peace with one of my fears that night!

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