So I have a thing about natural disasters. I find them completely terrifying and fascinating. I'm bummed I missed the East-Coast earthquake. Rainier looming over the cities of Puget Sound makes me slightly uneasy. And when I was a little kid, St. Helens gave me nightmares like nobody's business. Seeing it in person was pretty intense.
|I find it hard not to imagine a barfing sound when viewing it from this angle.|
|The blast conveniently removed all the trees for a great view.|
The area affected by the eruption is still clearly visible. Stumps and fallen trees spot the hillsides. The valley floor is piled with mounds of gray ash and pumice, with streams carving sharp gullies through soft, unsettled sediment.
|The blast zone near the visitor center.|
|The maw of the monster|
The walls, inside and out, were covered with evocative photos taken by the owner, telling the history of his family before, during, and after the eruption. The A-frame in question was just a few days from being complete when the mountain blew, dumping several feet of lahar (mud flows from melted glaciers and volcanic ash) over the new home, the property, and the surrounding land. The A-frame is still there as a monument; you can look down into the living room and see the depth of the volcanic sediment you stand on. The owner, working behind the counter, said it was very eerie; where they were located, in a valley to the south, they neither heard the explosion nor experienced the ash cloud, and the flood didn't reach them until several hours after the main event. There are also photos of him, his family, and their favorite spots before and after; fishing holes, stores, homes, first pristine and then covered with gray muck. He also sold soda, ice cream, and T-shirts reading "Mount St. Helens: The Biggest Ash-Hole in the West." Displayed in a cabinet were a number of plaster casts purported to be sasquatch footprints. Oh, and this:
|St. Helens and another Cascade volcano, Mt. Adams, in the distance|