We live along a part of the Pacific Rim of Fire, a seismically active horseshoe of volcanoes and earthquakes. Well before I lived here, in May 1980, Mt St Helens, one of the local conical volcanoes erupted so strongly that it exploded cataclysmically upward and outward, destroying 14 percent of its peak and devastating about 150 to 200 square miles of forested land.
Here’s a very short video that shows the before and after shape of the mountain (with amusing musical accompaniment). Here’s a National Geographic gallery of pics. Our pics upcoming will show only the after.
Last Friday we took the camper to a park about 50 miles from Mt St Helens, just to get out of Dodge for a few days. Almost as an afterthought the next day, we decided to drive the 50-mile road that winds toward the summit and go nose around.
The only other time we’d been here was heavily overcast with no chance of seeing this volcano. I’ve flown over the area many times, so have seen the destroyed peak and bleak landscape from 30,000 feet. Our Saturday was clear and warm.
Herewith, perhaps too many photos to illustrate those 8 hours we messed about. (N.B. Click on any photo in a section and they’ll get bigger!)
We continued tootling up the road, along sections of the Toutle River that were devastated in the explosion.
For the gawkers, the smart powers-that-be constructed many waysides and several complex interpretive centers. I kept wondering about having to rebuild if the mountain blew again…. We’re a peculiar species. I digress.
We found a wayside about 20 miles (?) away from the mountain, just a parking lot with three interpretive signs, no facilities, and a knock-em-dead view of the peak and surrounding terrain. We had the camper (with a potty!). We lingered. Had lunch al fresco, had naps, and I did laundry because I dumped a cup of tomato juice right into my only bag of clothes. Sigh… !!
Our final view of the mountain at that spot:
The clouds continued to thicken. Sunday the cloud deck was so low that there was no hint of a peak. Weren’t we smart to go up the road on Saturday?!
We took kitty Calpurrnia with us because she needs three medicines twice a day, though we’d rather leave her home with Ooper. They probably snuggle up when we’re not looking. … Nah… Not sure how much longer she’ll be with us, our old girl, and it grieves me deeply to think of her fuzzy tortoise-shell self absent.
The camper road trips are quite demanding of me, but I recover faster now, which inspires lasting hope instead of mere pockets clung to in desperation.