Wednesday, June 20 – We are visiting Mount St. Helens today.
We left the campground at 7:30 a.m. The fog hadn't lifted yet.
As soon as the fog burned away, it was an beautiful day to visit the Mountain. Remember, we are traveling to the top of mountain, so dress accordingly (more on that later). The area inside the 14-mile Blast Zone was left to Mother Nature to reclaim.
Hoffstadt Creek Bridge is the longest and tallest of fourteen bridges on the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway ( Hwy 504) at Mount St. Helens. It is the tallest bridge on a State Highway in
Washington State and third tallest in the Northwest at 370 ft. above the ground below. It begins the Blast Zone.
Millions of trees have been planted, outside the Blast Zone, to replace those destroyed. They are planted very close together and the entire forest is made-up of trees the same size . It made us dizzy looking at the trees – weird.
On Sunday May 18, 1980, (can you believe it's been 32 years), Mount St. Helens blew its top!
Our friends, Terry and Jeri of Just Wonderin', sent us a photo that Jeri's brother, Marvin, who is a pilot, took after the first big explosion. Just amazing.
The explosion blew over 1300 feet of the mountain outward and down the hillside. The area around Mount St. Helens was instantly and permanently changed.
But the Mount St. Helens' story is about re-birth. How, after total destruction, the Mountain has come back to life. We had the re-occurring thought, while on the mountain, that if mankind was wiped off the face of the earth, this is how the earth would come back.
Since 1980, plant and animal life have come back to the Mountain and surrounding valley. Flowers bloom and grassy greens have overtaken much of the gray. Scientist are amazed at the miraculous ability of nature to come back after such devastation.
Interesting tidbits about Mount St. Helens:
The eruption of Mount St. Helens caused the largest landslide in recorded history.
Wind speeds reached over 300 mph.
Landslides reached speeds of 155 mph.
Temperatures reached 660 degrees Fahrenheit.
The lateral blast removed the upper 1,306 ft. of the volcano.
Over 1000 commercial flights were canceled following airport closures due to ash and debris.
During peak summer months, more than 800 truck-loads of salvageable timber were retrieved EACH day.
Weyerhaeuser employees planted 18,400,000 trees by hand to reclaim the forest. It took workers 4-years to complete this project.
From Oct. 2004 through Jan. 2008 minor eruptions produced over 125 million cubic meters of lava. Enough to pave a 3-foot thick, 7-lane highway from Portland, OR to New York City.
You see the mountain soon after exiting I-5, that's over 50 miles away! Today, it is still covered with snow.
As you approach the mountain, you begin to see the Northside that was blown away. The remaining mountain is now sort of “U-shaped.”
We were surprised with the wind (40 mph gusts) and bundled up against the cold. It's not surprising that we saw people in short, sandals, and flip-flops.
We urge anyone visiting Mount St. Helens to be sure to view BOTH movies in the visitor's center. They are very enjoyable and as the movie ends the curtain rises and you have a very dramatic view of the mountain through the entire glass end of the theatre. You hear quite a few gasps from the audience.
The center of the mountain is called the dome. Growth of the new lava dome continues with each eruption.
There are several hikes at the mountain, including a 19-mile all day hike to the crater. We headed out on a short hike, but with the 40 mph wind it wasn't very enjoyable so we turned around and called it a day.
From the Johnston Ridge Observatory, Mt. Adam (another volcano) can be seen.
This adventure on Mount St. Helens made our list of “Best Experiences in 2012.” So, if you are ever in the area, be sure to take at least a half day, and drive to the Mountain. Marsha calls it the "Monster."
To see more photos, please click on Mount St. Helens.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y'all back real soon. Have a great day!