Mount Saint Helens

Last week we traveled to Mount Saint Helens. It was our third attempt to view the mountain. On our first attempt, we had a good visit to the Visitor Centre, but the mountain was obscured by cloud. On our second attempt, we had to turn back because of dense fog! On this trip, the mountain was in clear view, although as the day wore on, nearby mountains (Mount Rainier and Mount Adams) became obscured by rapidly building clouds, which came with the mid 30’s temperatures (90 degrees Fahrenheit). The National Monument dedicated to the 1980 eruption is awesome, in the truest sense of the word. It is difficult to imagine the slide that took more than 2000 feet off the mountain. It is just as difficult to imagine the blast that scorched and knocked down large trees more than twenty miles away. Similarly it is difficult to imagine an 800 foot tsunami in Spirit Lake, caused when it was hit by the immense slide. The film we saw in the Visitor Center is exceptional. After our visit to the Visitor Centre, we decided to take the back roads that approach Spirit Lake from the east. Despite a long drive over very slow roads, it was well worth the effort.

Mount Saint Helens
Mount Saint Helens National Monument Visitor Centre
The view from the Theatre at the Visitor Centre. After the movie, the screen lifts to reveal this view.
One of many bridges on the way. This one is 370 feet above the canyon.
Erosion through the volcanic mud flow, below Mount Saint Helens.
A barren mountain slope more than 20 miles from Mount Saint Helens, showing trees scorched and blasted to the ground by the 1980 eruption.
Driving to the east side of Mount Saint Helens, we had only brief views of Mount Rainier, due to the build up of clouds in the heat.
Spirit Lake, viewed from the east. The scorched remains of thousands of trees trunks from the eruption litter the lake.
Scorched remains of tree trunks in Spirit Lake.
Elk, on the drive to Spirit Lake. We also had a large black bear run across the road in front of us, after which it scrambled at great speed up a steep slope. No photos as I was driving, and he disappeared quickly!
Mount Adams, one of four volcanic peaks we saw on this outing (Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens and Mount Hood being the others).
Steam, emerging from the dome on Mount Saint Helens.
The view from Windy Point, which was the end of the road on this eastern entry to the Mount Saint Helens National Monument.

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