Entry 28: Mt. St. Helen’s Volcano Area
Friday, August 27 A Natural Occurance...
One thing that an area like Mt. St. Helens offers is that it was caused by nature herself, and not of any of man’s influence. And, of course, each square inch of our planet was formed through actual violent events such as volcanic eruptions, glacial carvings, draining oceans, etc. I was curious to see the results nearly 30 years later.
Once one enters the Monument area, the forests are thick and heavy, with the curvy road requiring full concentration (along with occasional blinding views of the now-setting sun). The area looks lush and healthy. Then, after a turn onto the actual Windy Ridge entrance/viewpoint road, after 10 more miles of the same, the scenery changes. There is a huge expanse, 14 miles from the once-conical mountaintop, of downed, mostly limbless trees. In many areas, they trees are returning, and it was most interesting to view all growth—especially the uniformed-heighted trees—returning to the devastated area (triggered by an earthquake, which led to the surprise eruption). In addition, the millions of cubic feet of newly-melted snow created huge, huge landslides, changing elevations by 100s of
feet, destroying complete lakes and creating new ones. Great and Interesting Views...
Also interesting while traveling the 4-mile Windy Ridge Road—it allows one to see the entire road (which, of course, in the mountains, is rare, as the roads/views are usually filled with the trees). A mile is actually a long way, especially since the road was dipping into valleys and making long climbs, eventually to about 7,000 feet. There are a number of parking lots, but since I knew that this was an out-and-back route, I would be passing all these spots again.
At the viewpoint, the mountain looked excellent. There were only a few cars, with people hiking a number of steps to award themselves with a slightly more impressive view. It was windy as all get out, and a few times, my Indiana Jones Fedora that I had obtained in Alaska kept blowing off my head, reminding me of the line from the Coen brothers film, Miller’s Crossing
: “There’s nothing more silly than a man chasing after his own hat.”
On the way back down, views of Spirit Lake showed 1000s of trees that had wound up over the years
into the lake. Debris avalanches showed the tremendous destruction; a smashed miner’s car, close to where the two dead occupants lie (57 in all were killed; 21 never recovered), was the most unnerving site to witness—the actual car, still there.
The area also offered a number of easy hikes (such as down to Spirit Lake), but I was anxious to leave the area, and packed Sophie the dog back into the Tacoma pick-up to make it further east back to Chicago. We left the area, physically and emotionally exhausted at around 4 p.m., when we bid goodbye to this amazing area, heading south, and away from the destruction… Thanks for reading the blog! Chicago Dave and Sophie!
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