Explosions in the Sky

27 09 2009

Last weekend we headed down to Portland for a music festival. There was one catch: I caught a cold or the flu or something that invaded my body trying to keep me from having fun! I spent most of my time between Tuesday and Sunday in bed on all kinds of cold medicine. I was able to make it up for a few hours at a time to see some of the bands we went to see. Sitting in the back corner with a cup of tea and a kleenex most of the time. I was cute…I’m sure.

On Sunday morning, I was feeling closer to normal than I had in many days and it was absolutely gorgeous out! Scott said we needed to “swing by” Mt. St. Helens since I had never been. What kind of person can call themself a Washington State Resident (of 8 years) and not have seen the National Monument?


mt st helens from johnson ridge

Well. She doesn’t disappoint. It’s incredible to be driving through a forest and turn a corner into total destruction.

001_MSH Spirit Lake

spirit lake and the glacier covered tippy top of mt adams

There is a learning center at Johnson Ridge where they have some artifacts and stories of survivors as well as those who perished in the blast. These are actual seismograph machines monitoring the activity under the mountain. This will help predict future blasts (the latest small-ish blasts were in 2006).

003_MSH Seismograph


There are signs everywhere telling people to not feed the wildlife. While they are cute, they could bite, etc. I was sitting on the ledge soaking up the sun, waiting for Scott to come out of the learning center when this guy was flitting around the ledge.

004_MSH Psycho Chipmunk

chip the little chump

Then, out of nowhere, he just attacked! I was innocently snapping pictures and he came after me. As soon as this was taken I was on the run from a creature about 1/100 my size. 

005_MSH Psycho Chipmunk

chip the little chump on attack

Throughout the park, there are trails you can walk to see some of the remaining destruction. Everything was left as it was in 1980.

006_MSH Everything Left

snapped at the base

For some reason, on this hike, I had an intense craving for Taco Cabana.

007_MSH Tacos

she must be from san antonio

Most of the soil surrounding Mt. St. Helens, is sterile due to the heat of the landslide (lava & gas got to temperatures of over 1300°). There are some areas of greenery and wild flowers, but nothing is particularly tall. Just underbrush, ground cover, and of course, the ever-freakin-present dandelion.

008_MSH Scenery

new growth amongst destruction

On the loop around from the learning center to the parking lot, there is a memorial to the 64 people who perished during the event of the blast and subsequent massive landslide. (The top 1300 feet of the mountain blew off, equalling about 235 square miles).

009_MSH Kim


As you walk around it’s so interesting to see remnants of life. The below trees confused us. The blast was 29 years ago. Could these trees have stunted their growth in the blast? Or have they just grown odd? What do you think?

011_MSH Bendy Trees

confounding trees

This is my favorite shot. It’s hard to see the detail when it’s not a massive picture, but you can see the standing dead forest and the trees that were blown over by the 300 mph rock, land, and tree filled wind that blew in the blast. So powerful to see it.

012_MSH Everything Left

left as it was found

A cute and happy Scott was very glad to get up to the monument.

010_MSH Scott

cute scott




4 responses

28 09 2009

oh man!!!! i wonder if on some strangers blog there is a video of some crazy woman running around screaming?? (from a tiny helpless animal) i would pay money to see the video of you & the chipmunk.

seriously…why is there a taco at the monument?

28 09 2009

good question, mel!
Kim, glad you posted this. I have never seen Mt St Helens… by the way, I was chased by a half-black squirrel yesterday at Fiesta Texas… seriously! He kept trying to climb up in the stroller & I was sitting next to it holding Katie. He wouldn’t leave, so I finally had to pack it up & head off! But before I left another couple sitting on a different part of the patio was sending me dirty looks b/c they were trying to let their little girl see this funky looking squirrel (front half of his body was normal color, but back half was pitch black) that I was squawking at & trying to scare away (but was probably scaring their little girl instead)…

29 09 2009

I did a couple of circles (at 17,000 ft) around Mt Ranier one day, and then headed for St Helens to do the same… as I got closer, a big puff of steam/smoke came out of St Helens about the same place the cloud is, in your photo… I made the command decision to make a big turn to the East, and go straight to Dallas… We (read, I) had seen enough. I remember wondering at the time how high debris can fly in a minor eruption?

29 09 2009

what is it with the Kruger girls and squirrls?
Love the educational post. thanks. Beautiful pictures. And I do hope you are feeling better.

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