Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Powerful Force of Nature

May 18, 1980 was a momentous day here in the northwest. The eruption of Mt St Helens destroyed lives and livelihood. It awakened us to the powerful force of nature that is our living planet. It renewed interest in science, and specifically geology and it's related fields. Twenty-nine years later it is a major tourist attraction. It had been years since we visited, and that was at Windy Ridge, before a National Monument was established. Sunday, on our way home from the Oregon coast, we drove the hour long "new" road into the Toutle Valley, to see the volcano up close. The river still shows the remains of the lahar that rushed out of the mountain and down the river. The hillsides are reforested, but this was in the blast zone, stripped bare of vegetation. The volcano looms in the clouds ahead.
Our destination was The Johnston Ridge Observatory, named after Dave Johnston, the geologist on duty at the monitoring station that day, who's famous last words were "Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!" an instant before his death.
The rain and clouds parted for us and we enjoyed a great view of the mountain.
The light played across the still barren blast zone surrounding Spirit Lake.
Paint Brush and Fire weed bloomed abundantly in the "soil" left by the landslide and pyroclastic flow.
Clouds simulated an eruption.
But all was calm and peaceful this day.
Six year old Isaac told me as we were leaving, "I always wanted to visit a volcano". It made the long drive and the late arrival home all worthwhile.


  1. Marvelous tour! Beautiful photos! I do remember that day in May 1980, when the ash covered Great Falls, MT and sent shock waves through all of us there.

    Glad you've had some great trips with your kids and grand kids! Everyone looks as if they're having a grand time!


  2. Hi Linda! I have a moment to myself since Art took Tif and KC to the store. I had to take a quick peek to see what you were up to. WOW! This is such an incredible post. I'm really sorry we missed seeing Mt. St. Helens earlier this year. That is such an awesome sight. Your photos are fabulous! Since we couldn't see it for ourselves, it's really fun to see it through your camera. I can see the grandkids are having a blast.
    "Vanvouver, Vancouver, this is it!" Goodness! That sent a shiver up my spine. Thank goodness our volcanos are not explosive in Hawaii.

  3. that was a day in history to remember...fun photos.

  4. I also remember when Mt St Helen erupted. Being an elem teacher, it caused an instant teachable moment...not to mention the 'holy Mother of God!'.
    Another event that left quite an impression was the tsunami.
    Great photos.

  5. that last shot is wonderful as your header

    nature is magnificent and powerful

    love the shots of the family too :)

  6. Awww, that last line was precious!

    My birthday is May 18th which didn't mean much to most people until I moved to the Pac NW. Up there whenever I mention my birthday, I invariably get "oh, the day Mt. St. Helens blew"!

  7. I have never been to Mt. St. Helens since the big blast so thanks for the tour. Also thanks for the Oregon coast tour. I like Astoria and really enjoyed my visit to the Maritime Museum. You have such a nice family. MB

  8. Great shots of an interesting place. It's a good demonstration of the power of nature. You can also see the promise of renewal in the faint green wash on the mountain.


I would love to read your comments. Since I link most posts to Facebook, you may comment there if you do not have an account. I have eliminated Anonymous comments due to spammers.