Tuesdays are my chores and errands day. And yesterday was no different in that respect. I got my laundry done, went to the post office, got a few groceries, but no library this week. On my way back home I was once again taken by how beautiful this October has been. Then a thought popped into my head. Actually it’s been brewing on and off for some time. Poncho and I should take a road trip up to Mount St. Helens. At the end of the month the roads will close for winter and we wouldn’t have an opportunity again until next May. So I rushed home (sort of) and posed my suggestion to him. He was up for the adventure. His work on the water lines was at a point he could take an afternoon off. So we got ready and blasted our way to this infamous mountain.
Mount St. Helens is an active volcano in the Cascade Mountain range of the Pacific Northwest. On May 18, 1980, the mountain erupted in a catastrophic and spectacular fashion. Before the eruption the mountain peak stood at 9,677 ft (2,950 m). Afterwards, the height was reduced to 8,365 ft (2,550 m). The blast zone leveled trees, created mud flows that destroyed roads and bridges, and killed 57 people. It has become a living scientific laboratory in that the area has been allowed to regenerate on its own with little to no human interference.
This is a picture of Mount St. Helens on May 17, 1980. I pulled it off of Wikipedia.
This is Mount St Helens on October 22, 2013.
In the valley between Johnston Observatory and the mountain, there is still very little life coming back. It is just about as barren and it was over 30 years ago. But life is returning. Plants and animals have come back to the beautiful rugged country.
On our drive up to the mountain we stopped at a few spots along the way. This was a cute little waterfall glistening in the sunshine.
This is our first real view of the mountain. Behind us is the waterfall.
Here is a lake that was created from the eruption. The logs in the water were part of the blow down and were old growth trees. The one with my shadow is about five feet in diameter.
As we got closer to the observatory we could really begin to see the desolation.
But as I said earlier, life is coming back. One of the first plants to return was lupine.
All across the landscape dead trees can be seen. Their exposed roots now provide some interesting photo opportunities.
Here I am. While most of the trip was quite warm and I didn’t need a coat, out on the ridge overlooking the mountain it was getting crisp in the late afternoon.
Finally, on our drive back down, we caught a final glimpse of the mountain in the last of the day’s light.
This road trip took us a little over six hours to complete. While Mount St. Helens is only about forty miles due north of Poncho’s property, there are no roads that direct. We had to travel 120 miles one way to get to the mountain. But it is well worth it. A nice adventure on a gorgeous autumn afternoon.