Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 6: Mount St. Helens

We arrived in the surrounding area of Mount St. Helens after dark so we found somewhere to stay and looked for a place to eat dinner.  We were kind of in the middle of nowhere so our options were scarce.  The man at the hotel kept going on and on about the wonderful hamburgers at a little place just a couple of miles down the road so we decided to give it a try.  Well...we tried.  We walked in and sat down.  The place was completely empty except for 2 people at the bar.  When the owner/manager/waiter came out from the kitchen he told us that he couldn't serve us because we had a minor (Kellan).  We found this so funny and at first we thought he was joking...nope he was totally serious.  We had to take a picture of the Country Corner Kitchen and Tavern.
Kellan is the only 11 month old that I know that has already been kicked out of a bar for being underage :)
We had to drive a little farther but we did find somewhere else to eat!  Before we went in search of dinner we got a cabin at Silver Lake Resort.  I'm not going to lie, it was a little creepy at night.  Not because of the was an adorable little hotel with 10 cabins right on Silver Lake.  However, like I said before, we were in the middle of nowhere (there isn't a whole lot around Mt. St. Helens) and on top of that its the off season for most travelers.  The entire hotel was completely empty and only one other cabin had someone in it.  So we were in the middle of the woods, beside this lake and an empty hotel, and surrounded by virtually empty cabins.  Of course the next morning, it seemed silly for being freaked out because its such a cute place.

The hotel and dock

Our cabin, lucky number 7, right on the water :)

Nothing fancy but definitely cute
We got ready, packed the car, and headed towards Mt. St. Helens.  The lady at the hotel came by our cabin to give us a coupon for another nearby restaurant called Patty's Place (The couple at Silver Lake were so nice) and she said it would be on our way.
Patty's Place was SO GOOD!  We actually ate there twice...on the way up to Mt. St. Helens for breakfast and on the way back down for lunch.

The man at Silver Lake also told us to be sure to check out Clearwater Lake on our way up the mountain.  This completely natural lake did not exist before the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980.  Several lakes were totally filled in and no longer are there because of the blast.  On the other hand, the eruption also created new bodies of water like this one.  It was very interesting to hear the park rangers talk about how nature is correcting itself and is slowly working to rebuild the habitats that used to be here.
Just so that you can compare the before and after...this was a picture of Mt. St. Helens the day before the eruption.  USGS Photograph taken on May 17, 1980, by Harry Glicken
Mt. St. Helens, 2 years after the eruption.  Isn't it crazy how much of this mountain came off?  I also learned that it technically wasn't blown off...some of it was blown off, but a lot of it slid down the side causing a massive avalanche.  USGS Photograph taken on May 19, 1982, by Lyn Topinka.

Now back to our pictures (not nearly as impressive), it was difficult to get clear pictures because of a haze due to the wildfires all over the Pacific Northwest.  We were able to see a lot better than the pictures show.  It was amazing to see the before and after shots of the mountain and all of the changes that the blast caused inside the museum. 

32 years later you can still see the damage that was done.  Trees still lay over on their side and you can see tiny little toothpick forests on the tops of nearby mountains where trees were singed to death and left standing in place.  There is also a huge pumice field that surrounds the nearby area too...just like Crater Lake.  It is amazing that after all of this time, scrubby grass is the only thing growing on this land that used to be covered with thick forests.  This whole area was either covered with mud from the avalanche, entire forests were leveled, or entire forests were burned to death but left standing.  It is absolutely amazing to see the destruction in person.

Our adventure continues tomorrow...

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and amazing that it still looks so desolate 30+ years after the eruption! I remember going up on the Haleakala volcano in Maui and seeing how different the landscape was and how the few plant and animal life that lived up there had adapted to the conditions. It seriously looked like another planet! I have an interesting piece of the Mt. Helens story to share with may find it interesting. It wasn't about me because I was just born in that year. At the time of the eruption, my parents (adopted) lived in Billings, Montana (pretty far away) because my dad was in the Air Force and stationed there (this was during the Cold War and he worked in a missile silo). Anyway, they were actually away in CA visiting Dad's family at the time, but when they got home everything was covered in soot and ash from the eruption. It blew the ash that far away! Pretty incredible! It was even inside their closed garage. I thought this might interest you a little. :-)