Friday, June 19, 2015

Mount Saint Helens

Summer travel is in full swing. My first noteworthy stop was Portland, Oregon for my annual work retreat. While downtown Portland was great, I was surprised how much I enjoyed our day trip to Mt. St. Helens.

We all packed plenty of reading material for our two hour journey, but we didn't need it. Our vans were driven by two very knowledgeable drivers who narrated our whole trip.

We learned that most of Portland has been retrofitted to withstand an earthquake over 6.8. Though, none of the many bridges in the city would survive. We learned that in Portland, like many cities, people built beautiful homes with a view on the foothills. But, the foothills are thick beds of silt which are vulnerable to slides. 
The beautiful beaches along the Oregon coast are covered in volcanic ash.  I learned that the mountain used to have a normal peak that blew off when the volcano erupted. When Mt. St. Helens erupted, the glaciers inside the volcano melted and sent 46 billion gallons of water rushing away from the mountain.

We had about 2 hours to explore the visitor's center and surrounding hiking trails. The area is a National Park - so don't forget your parks pass.

The view looked like a mix between walking on the moon and walking through beautiful mountain fields.

The purple flowers were the first to return after the the devastation. The flowers brought nitrogen to the soil and animals back into the valley.
It was fascinating to see all the tree stumps where trees were just knocked over.

The downed trees on private land were taken to California to special mills which were retrofitted to cut these trees with embedded rocks. The trees on BLM land were left as-is.

While the towns in the projected lava/mud flow were evacuated, no one predicted that the volcano would have a lateral blast too. Most of the fatalities were people caught by the lateral blast. 

After a picnic lunch and a lovely hike along a deceivingly hilly trail, it was time to head back to Oregon. We left a little dusty and tired, but with a new found appreciation for volcanoes and geologists.

Not a bad first hike of the summer season!

1 comment:

Poozoe said...

So cool! I lived in Sacramento when it erupted and we had a TON of ash falling on us....from, I think, over 500 miles away. So amazing.