Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mt. St. Helens 25 Years Later

Mt. St. Helens in southwest Washington blew up 25 years ago today. Now it is a National Monument and a world-class tourist destination. We visited three months later in Aug, 1980. Houses were destroyed; houses were filled with fine mud. The trees along the highway had light beige dry mud on them above your head! In 1987 we did the approach to Windy Ridge on the NE side of the mountain, going south from Randall, WA. Road construction closed the higher closer road and view points. So we did a hike along the new Spirit Lake. In 2002 we had the opportunity to Hike across the crater. A group arranged to split the party in half so we could hike one-way, then use the vehicles left by the other half of the party to return. It was at least 8 or 9 miles. Rough country - in the open devastation the entire route. Approaching from Interstate 5 to the west you drive up the valley of the Toutle River. There are signs of the devastation before you leave I-5. There was so much debris and mud in the river that they had to dredge it and piled up huge mounds where it crosses I-5. But I haven't been past there lately to verify that the mounds are still huge. And along most of the route the river is in a wide bed of mud or hardened mud. Google satellite photo of the Toutle River approach. Scroll right to see Mt. St. Helens. The crater with Windy Ridge and Spirit Lake to the Northeast. Continuing on the Toutle River there is a string of viewpoints and visitor centers. Here is a highway guide that also includes some tourist-service businesses. There are two private ones where you get a good view - Hoffstadt Bluffs and Wyerhaeuser. Of course the last ones are the closest. It's world-class. Go see it for yourself. The I-5 exit is less than 60 miles north of Portland, Oregon. From Seattle it is a very, very long day trip.

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