Monday, September 22, 2008

Mount St. Helens

So in early September Robb and I finally made it to Mount St. Helens. It was forecasted to be one of the last nice weekends of the summer and we decided we had to make it to at least one touristy thing this summer. The drive was about 2 hours and we finally made it to the Visitors Center at Silver Lake. We really weren't planning on stopping at this visitors center, but drove past it and turned around to check it out. We are so glad that we stopped! We watched a video about the events surrounding the 1980 eruption and looked at different exhibits and learned so much! We then headed up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory which is only 5 miles from the volcano with absolutely perfect views. We watched another video and listened to a couple of ranger talks. We also went on a 1 mile interpretive trail with a ranger who taught us even more. We saw that the average visitor time to Johnston Ridge Observatory is 90 minutes, but we were there for hours. All of a sudden it was after 6:30 and we knew we had to start heading home (and we saw a coyote on our way home, which was pretty darn cool). But we were so bummed because we wanted to look at more of the exhibits and hike on our own for a few miles. We will definitely be going back one day.

Here are a few things I learned on our trip (and there's so much more that I learned, these are just the highlights!):
1) When the volcano blew, it was a lateral blast, which means that the blast came out the side of the mountain.
2) About 90% of the mountain came down in the blast. It was the biggest landslide ever known.
3) Since the blast, a lava dome has been building inside the center of the blown up mountain. It is still a very active volcano with smoke coming out of it!
4) Two devastating actions happened when the volcano blew up, a landslide that covered everything, and a blast of hot air and ash that turned areas hundreds of miles away to dark as night.
5) Not everything in its path died. Snow still covered the ground in April of 1980, so that snow protected creatures living in the ground (mice, groundhogs, etc.) These animals that survived helped irrigate the earth so that plant life could grow again.
We both loved Mount St. Helens and found it utterly fascinating. I would highly recommend it to anyone who's thinking about going.

This is a zoomed in shot of the center of the mountain.
This shows the lava dome growing and the smoke escaping!
The day was perfect, so anything that looks like a cloud is actually smoke.

1 comment:

Gregg P said...

I see you were there on a wonderful day! Nice photos!