Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mount St. Helens

I remember the news about the volcanic eruption at Mount St. Helens in the state of Washington. It was May 1980 when the mountain top was obliterated and volcanic ash spewed into the stratosphere that eventually circled the earth. There were reports of ash residue on cars as far away as Tennessee. The explosion leveled tens of thousands of giant trees on the mountain side. Debris flowed from the mile wide volcanic grater and raised a valley floor by 150 to 200 feet for twenty miles. A stream and road in the valley were buried by this flow.

Twenty-seven years after the eruption, my wife and I visited this mountain in August 2007. A modern highway has been built along higher ground which leads to a monument and visitor center near the new mountain top which is 1,300 feet lower than before the eruption. A retired forestry employee told me that loggers hauled six hundred truck loads per day for two years to salvage logs from the down trees. Three million seedlings have been planted in the area to restore the forests.

The picture above shows me viewing the raised valley floor from a scenic lookout along the highway. Grass is growing and elk herds graze in the meadows below.

The bottom two pictures show a moonscape like terrain around the mountain top. We watched a video in the visitor center entitled "The Fire Under Us". It's a realistic re-enactment of some events following the eruption. Four loggers and two fisherman barely escaped with their lives. If you get the opportunity, view this video.

Have a good week!


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