Ape Canyon is a gorge along the edge of the Plains of Abraham on the northeast shoulder of Mount St. Helens in the state of Washington. The gorge narrowed to as close as eight feet at one point. The name alludes to a reported encounter with several “apemen” in 1924, an event later incorporated into Bigfoot folklore.
Ape Canyon was heavily impacted by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Adjacent to the steep rocky canyon is the present Ape Canyon trail, popular with hikers and mountain bikers. On the south side of the mountain is another feature named Ape Cave.
Alleged Bigfoot attack
Ape Canyon was reportedly the site of a violent encounter in 1924 between a group of miners and a group of apemen. These allegations were reported on in the July 16, 1924 issue of The Oregonian. Fred Beck, one of the miners, claimed they shot and possibly killed at least one of the creatures, precipitating an attack on their cabin, during which the creatures bombarded the cabin with rocks and tried to break-in. Beck detailed his claims in a book written in 1967, in which he identified the creatures as mystical beings from another dimension, explaining that he had experienced psychic premonitions and visions his entire life of which the apemen were only one component.
William Halliday, director of the Western Speleological Survey, claimed in his 1983 pamphlet Ape Cave and the Mount Saint Helens Apes that the miner’s assailants were actually local youths. Until the eruption of Mt. St. Helens counselors from the YMCA’s Camp Meehan on nearby Spirit Lake brought hikers to the canyon’s edge and related a tradition that the 1924 incident was actually the result of young campers throwing light pumice stones into the canyon, not realizing there were miners at the bottom. Looking up the miners would have only seen dark moonlit figures throwing stones at their cabin. The narrow walls of the canyon would have served to distort the voices of the YMCA campers enough to frighten the men below. There was another mysterious incident in Ape Canyon that took place in 1950. It involved world ski champion Jim Carter who disappeared while on a ski trip in the canyon. He was with some companions and had then gone off by himself to take some photos. Only his camera case was found. Searchers reported finding his ski tracks in the snow. Carter had apparently taken off at an incredible rate of speed performing jumps and maneuvers that no skier would have taken unless he was very frightened or being pursued. One of the searchers reported an eerie feeling that he was being “watched” the whole time. Carter’s disappearance is a mystery to this day.