On Sunday 18 May 1980, Mt St Helens, a long-quiet volcano 154 km south of Seattle, came catastrophically to life. Fifty-seven people were killed in the eruption and 250 houses destroyed.
The mountain had given signs of the impending disaster in the months beforehand but no-one expected the magnitude of the devastation which occurred. Almost everyone who was killed was outside the evacuation zone. Rather than exploding upwards, the eruption blew out the whole north face of the volcano triggering a massive molten avalanche of mud, ice, snow and debris.
Even today, 33 years later, the devastation is still apparent. The area is littered with greying tree trunks blown down by the pyroclastic flow. All point in the same direction; felled in an instant by a huge fatal breath of air.
|Tree trunks blown down by the eruption.|
The drive from the Interstate up to Mt St. Helens is quite long. It takes about an hour. At first I wondered whether it would be worth the effort. Each new twist in the road however, brought the destruction of that terrible day more and more into focus. The mountain evolved for me from an ordinary geographical landmark into a slumbering monster, waiting for the moment when it might again explode.
|Mt St. Helens from a distance.|
|Mt St. Helens with it's side blown away.|
Australia may have a pink lake ( http://www.amusingplanet.com/2013/03/pink-lake-hillier-in-australia.html ) but Oregon has the most beautiful lake in the world. Like Mt St. Helens, Mt Mazama is a slumbering volcano, yet staring into the abyss of the cobalt blue lake which fills its caldera it is hard to conjour up anything but a sense of tranquillity and peace.
We hadn't intended to come here originally. We changed our plans after chatting with another tourist, an American lady holidaying with her grandchildren, at Mesa Verde. If you are out there. Thank you. It was absolutely worth the detour.
|Crater Lake - my photography barely does it justice|
Links: - http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mountsthelens/home/?cid=stelprdb5199437 http://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm
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For all my posts on this road trip click - here
14 July 2013