Friday, September 14, 2007

Mt. St. Helens

I guess this is no longer the Alaska Journal, but in our mind we are still returning so we will continue to post about our journey.

Today we saw as much as we could of Mt. St. Helens. Unfortunately, it was very overcast today so that was not much. We went to three of the five visitor centers, which were interesting, but we turned around before we got to the last two since we were in the clouds and visibility was about 50 feet.

We did drive into what was part of the original blast zone when the volcano blew up in 1980. It sure does not seem like it has been 27 years! Shortly after the explosion the federal government took a part of the area around the mountain and turned it into a National Monument. Much of the rest of the area is owned by Weyerhaeuser. Two different approaches have been used in the two areas. The National Monument has been allowed to remain completely natural. The Weyerhaeuser part was harvested and replanted as quickly as possible.

The part of the mountain we were in was the Weyerhaeuser part. It is hard if not impossible to tell that anything happened. The trees that were planted in the early 1980’s are now 20 to 30 feet tall and it looks like the area outside the blast area. The area within the National Monument is also recovering, but not nearly as rapidly. Unfortunately, like I explained, we were not able to see this for ourselves because of the low clouds, but we watched several movies and saw displays in the visitor centers.

We got to thinking and realized it has been at least 30 years since we have been in this part of the country. We have not been up here since Mt. St. Helens exploded. That is really surprising since this is one of my favorite parts of the country. We need to spend a summer up here sometime in the near future. There is so much to see and it is so pretty.


  1. When I went up to see Alice in May of 2006, we drove from Portland to Seattle and we could see all three mountains clearly that weekend, against beautiful cloudless blue skies. Mt. Hood, Mt Ranier, and Mt. St. Helens. Too bad you didn't have a day like that.

    That's very interesting about the opposite ways the gov't and private industry responded to the devastation.

  2. We were up there about 5 years after the blast. There was green everywhere, but no tall trees. I don't remember the details of what it looked like. Devon was 6 months old at the time!

    I think it's important that at least part of the devastated area was allowed to recover on its own. We can learn a lot about natural processes through such a study. I helped (a little) my botanist friend Les study an area of the desert that had burned. It was interesting to see which plants recovered quickly and which didn't.

  3. Datastorm says you are still in Prince George...

  4. Daryl, just for you I updated it. Of course, it will be wrong again in 12 hours. It's tough to keep it up to date while we are moving so much.

  5. Thank you!

    If you go much further south, you will pass through Newberg, Oregon, where Bill and Jan Miles used to live, and where I spent a summer.