Mount St. Helens

I know I promised you a tour of Mount St. Helens a couple of days ago, but it seems like my time has just slipped away from me, and besides I wanted to “study up” so I could give you facts as well as impressions.

Before I start, I urge you to take 23 minutes a view this You Tube video. I had forgotten much of what it told me, although I don’t know that I paid that much attention to the eruption at the time. We were in England, and so slightly removed from the action, although we did have an unusually cool and cloudy summer that was attributed to the ash in the upper atmosphere. You also might enjoy this video that is about 45 minutes long and tells about the recovery of the mountain. For a shorter, more scientific look at what happened you can see this clip.

We arrived in the late morning at the Silver Lake Visitors Center.

From there you can see Silver Lake through the trees.

We stopped for lunch at Hoffstadts Bluff for lunch and got our first good look at the mountain.

You can see the Toutle River in the foreground and the deposits of ash/pumice that washed down the mountain after the eruptions.

At this distance from the mountain you can see the regrowth of pines and forests that were burned and scorched by the heat blast accompanying the eruption.

We visited the Johnston Ridge Observatory, 6 miles from the crater, named for one of the people killed on the mountain in 1980. He was an employee of the US Geological Survey and was studying the mountain hoping to predict what was soon to happen. His were the last words heard from Mount St. Helens on that fateful May morning, “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it…”

From Johnston Ridge, you can see Spirit Lake just in the middle of the picture. The mountain just visible on the left is Mount Adams, another one of the string of sleeping sister volcanos.

There, just across the valley is the crater. You can plainly see the new lava dome building in the center of the crater, and wisps of steam escaping from a vent in the middle of the photo.

At the center, we saw the roots of blasted trees.

And by the foot of the blasted root, these flowers bravely poking out of the ashy soil.

The vegetation is recovering here at the Johnston Ridge Center.

Across the hills small trees are growing back…

…with flowers, and low bushes.

In the valley, by the little streams and the river, the birches have come back and are full-grown trees.

Looking back as we go down the mountain, we could see what looked like steam, both from the vent we saw from the Observatory on the left, and farther down on the right from a fissure at the base of the cone.

If you are interested in learning more about Mount St. Helens, Wikipedia has a couple of really good articles, one about the mountain itself, and one about the 1980 eruption.

The folks around here say that geologists think the next one to go will be Mt. Rainier. Parts of Tacoma are in the lava flow evacuation area, but we should be safe on our hill (from my mouth to God’s ears!).

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