Experiencing Mount Saint Helens

Mount St. Helens
The day began early with a departure from Friday Harbor on the San Juan Islands. We took the Washington State Ferry from Friday Harbor to Anacortes. It was a short stint lasting one hour. From Anacortes we reunited with Michael, the bus driver, and the tour bus. We journeyed about 2 hours to Seattle/Tacoma.

On the way we had a brief rest stop at the Smokey Point rest stop.

Back in Tacoma
Upon arrival at Tacoma, we were right across the street from where we were on Wednesday. This time, we spent time dining for lunch at harmon brewery. On the same block was a really cool thrift shop and a store front location of Tacoma School of Arts.

We left Tacoma and headed toward Mt. St. Helens. Before ascending the mountain, we stopped near Toutle and Castle Rock. We picked up geologist Joe Couture who boarded the bus and gave a minute by minute recounting of events on May 18, 1980 when Mt. St. Helens errupted.

Along the way we saw downed trees and charred trees. We also so evidence of a new growth forest — a forest where all trees are about the same age and about the same height. 

Learning the details

On the bus, the geologist played the actual 911 tapes from the fateful day. He also gave riveting statistics of events

  • The eruption began around 830 am and lasted for 9 hours
  • The blast was the force of 500 atomic bombs
  • Everything from mile post 20 (near Toutle) up was the point of no return
  • The town of Maple Valley no longer exists
  • 185 miles of road was destroyed
  • Heat wave was 600 degrees traveling at 100 mph
  • For 20 miles trees were knocked down
  • Enough trees were knocked down to build 150,000 three bedroom homes
Atop the mountain was a breathtaking view of Mt. St. Helens. The Mt St. Helens National Volcanic Monument commemorated the work of geologist Dave Johnston who lost his life. It also commemorates survivors and their stories. In the distance wildflowers are blooming. 
Map of Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
The meadows are spotted with wildflowers
Vast and expansive; words cannot describe.
Downed trees still lie in the distance
Mt. St. Helens
Visitor Center at Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic monument has much history along with stories of survival and accounts of May 18, 1980
Indications of the Ghost Forest, decades later
After leaving Tacoma, we eventually head South East to Mount Saint Helens
A map explains the affected areas
Near Toutle, A monument to Big Foot, also known as Sasquatch.

2 thoughts on “Experiencing Mount Saint Helens

  1. This bring back memories and they were not so good at first because I knew a couple from the area and they were worried about the families back home. They families survived it and they were. The couple was our next door neighbors at Ft. Campbell, Ky I like this.


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