washington map
Nature's Wrath & Recovery

The eruption of Mount St. Helens in southeast Washington state on May 18, 1980 instantly changed the landscape of hundreds of square miles of the Pacific Northwest. Destroying forests, rivers, farmland, and killing 57 people and thousands of animals. Much of the volcanic mountaintop was blasted away in the enormous eruption.

But now a recovery of sorts is in progress. The lava dome in the mountain is rebuilding, and elements of nature are slowing coming back. I have made two trips to see this amazing place. In 2001 and 2008.

I was surprised at how fast the trees have returned. Unfortunately, I was not able to hike to the crater rim as it was late in the day and clouds quickly enshrouded the volcano. You do need a permit to climb to the rim. About 13,000 do so every year. It is not particularly strenuous, but there are hazards like loose pumice and fast-changing weather. Perhaps I will return in another 7 years. Let's hope all remains calm in this part of the Ring of Fire.


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