Mount St. Helens is one of the most fiesty volcanoes on the planet. It is certainly one of the most active volcanoes in the United States. Situated in Washington’s Cascade Range, this stratovolcano is known for its explosive and frequent eruptions. Mount St. Helens has produced lava flows, towering lava domes, and erupted roiling ash clouds and pyroclastic density currents. Out of all of Mount St. Helens’ eruptions, one event in particular has branded itself into our memories: the eruption on May 18, 1980.
May 18, 1980
It was a quiet and sunny Sunday morning in Washington. Birds were singing in the thick forest and trout were splashing in the Toutle River. Elk roamed through the underbrush. And Mount St. Helens conical peak dominated the landscape.
Since March 1980, frequent earthquakes had rattled the volcano and surrounding landscape. Several small eruptions of gas and ash had occurred at the summit in recent weeks. More startling was the way Mount St. Helens had begun to deform. A tremendous bulge had formed under the north slope of the mountain in a matter of weeks.
Scientists and local government officials had never seen anything quiet like it. They understood that Mount St. Helens was active, but the last eruption had been in 1857. No one alive had witnessed the potential power behind the volcano. They frantically studied the mountain and try to predict what type of eruption the volcano would produce – and when.
The Pacific Ocean is absolutely magical. One never knows what they’ll discover on its shores or in its rich blue depths. There is something about the steady crash of the waves against the shore that relaxes and envigorates the soul. Our Base Camp is nowhere near the ocean, or any significant source of water, so we made tracks for the beach while we were in Oregon this summer. We didn’t choose just any beach, however. We chose Cannon Beach, Oregon for sentimental reasons and ended up finding a volcanic treasure: Haystack Rock.
Put that yawn away! The Boring Volcanic Field is far more exciting than it sounds! Where and what is this Boring Volcanic Field, and who gave it such an unexciting name? Buckle up – let’s go investigate!
Heading eastbound out of Portland, your eyes will either be fixed on traffic or on magnificent Mount Hood. Standing at 11,250’ above sea level, the stratovolcano certainly dominates the landscape. If you’re kicking back in the passenger seat, you’ll notice the enormous hills that just out of the landscape like molehills.
As you turn up Highway 26 toward Mount Hood, you’ll soon find yourself driving through the tiny town of Boring, Oregon.
I am super excited to announce that Intrepid Times and Exisle Publishing are releasing an amazing anthology called “Fearless Footsteps” next year – and that our story about climbing Mount St. Helens will be featured in it! Copyright © 2019 Volcano Hopper. All rights reserved. Loved this post? Share it!
Wy’east has a secret. He loves the sunrise.
Before the sun even rose, I felt the stirring. I lifted my head from the soft pillow and looked out the window. Outside of our log cabin at the base of Mount Hood, the sky was turning purple behind the thick cluster of trees. Streaks of pink began to tint the clouds, then orange strands began to glow. But there was something else in the air that morning that I’d never quite felt before during a sunrise. It was like the quivering excitement you felt as a kid on Christmas morning. It grows and grows until you burst from your bed and race downstairs to see the presents under the tree.
I snuggled under the thick down comforter as I watched the sunrise. The excitement thickened in the air like static electricity. Jason was fast asleep next to me. And I hadn’t heard a peep from downstairs. Even the birds had barely begun to chirp. The only one up was the volcano.
Monitor Ridge – Part 2
Three steps. Two. One. Suddenly, Mount St. Helens’ summit crater stretched wide open in front of me. The rim of the crater curved around to the north like eagles’ wings. An enormous lava dome that dwarfed everything around it sat perched in the heart of the mile-wide crater. The lava dome itself sat steaming happily away, tendrils of the white steam curling up toward us. The sharp scent of sulfur – like rotten eggs – made my nose sting.
We had made it! I clung to my husband, brother, and sister as we cried victorious tears. Jason, Paul, and Alex had each been overwhelmingly patient and kind to me on that hike. Twenty-four hours before, none of us imagined we’d be standing there together. But there we were! Successful because of each other’s patience, love for each other and for the volcano, and because of God’s grace.
After years of hoping, dreaming, and planning, the morning of August 4 found the four of us driving down the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway in search of mighty Mount St. Helens. My three partners in crime and I had explored the river valleys and Forest Learning Center on our way toward the volcano. But now, the time had finally come for me to meet Mount St. Helens face to face. No more reading, research, or hoping to catch a glimpse out the airplane window. Today I was just a girl, standing in front of a volcano, asking it not to blow me into the stratosphere. At least not until I’d had a thorough chance to explore its slopes!
The Pacific Northwest has a vibe all of its own. Trendy metropolitan cities, pulsing with their own energy. Thick forests of vibrant green and field strewn with wildflowers. Crashing ocean waves. And magnificent volcanoes that command the attention of the entire landscape.
The Cascade Arc is home to 20 very big and badass volcanoes, most of which are composite volcanoes, and over 3,000 smaller vents. Volcanic fields dot the landscape of the Pacific Northwest and have made it what it is today.