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At 8:32 AM on May 18, 1980, Mount St Helen erupted and the top and north face of the mountain slid down an filled in several of the north and west valleys. This was the largest land slide in recorded history. The mountain lost 1300 feet off the top, much of the north side as well as making a 2000 deep foot crater. All of this rock slid down in seconds and the mud flow ran over 14 miles in 10 minutes, filling a valley to an average depth of 150 feet and completely burying rivers and lakes. The areas around the mountain had been a paradise of green forests, and beautiful lakes and rivers. All of that is gone. Within a 10 miles radius the land is still barren and essentially free of plan life even 22 years later. It looks like a moon-scape.
We started at the visitor center and saw a film of the eruption. We then drove about 50 miles to the Johnston Ridge Observatory where you can look into the top of Mt. St. Helens from a distance of 5 miles. The road starts out through an old forest, then a forest planted in 1983 after forestry service allowed the broken trees to be removed and the area replanted and then the blast area where the trees are still blown down by the explosion of May 18th, 1980. This blast area is the approximate 10 mile radius area. This area looks very barren. You are able to see the 700 foot lava cone that grew inside the crater during many eruptions from 1980 to 1986. Since 1986 the volcano is quiet but this cone shows how the volcano rebuilds itself. Having just visited Mt Rainier it is especially interesting and scary to see how a beautiful snow covered mountain that people visit and spend time on can become a completely changed and barren land. One day Mt. Rainier will erupt.
There is a whole string of volcanoes running north to south in the Cascade Mts. There is Mt. Baker north of Seattle, Mt. Rainier just south of Seattle, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams just east of St. Helens, Mt. Hood just east of Portland, Mt. Newberry in central Oregon, Crater Lake in southern Oregon, Lassen Peak in northern California and, no doubt others.
There will be a photo album of Mt. St. Helens as soon as we get some time.