Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mount St Helen NM & Mt Ranier NP

It was a drab kinda day for visiting Mount St Helen National Monument and Mt Ranier National Park, but in this part of the country, you take what you can get, especially if it's not raining.  I had the eery pleasure of visiting Mount St Helen way back in the late '80s not too long after she "blew her top". 
From Wiki: 
Mount St. Helens is most famous for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, at 8:32 am PDT[2] which was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, caused an eruption, reducing the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,365 ft (2,550 m) and replacing it with a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The earthquake was caused by a sudden surge of magma from the Earth's mantle.[3] The debris avalanche was up to 0.7 cubic miles (2.9 km3) in volume. The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was created to preserve the volcano and allow for its aftermath to be scientifically studied.
This was a view of the sediment dam that was created some 20 miles down from the eruption.  Of course it looked much more destructive and dramatic 30 years ago I'm sure.
When I was here 30 years or so ago, all this was brown, mostly.  There were some small green ground cover but nothing like this.  There hundreds of volunteers in the years after the "blast" and destruction that came in the many areas of desolation and planted thousands upon thousands of native and non-native trees and mountain-type flora.
Downstream some five miles from the volcano base.
Thirty years ago this valley was nothing but mud and thousands of mangled trees and rocks.
A lot of natural and man-made effort has evolved over the past 30 years to bring about the transformation that has taken place here.  Sad part about it:  The volcano is still active and the mountain is swelling as the instruments record the movements each year.  So, she may again blow her top again soon.  Who knows?
Coldwater Lake (750 acres): Located in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument off SR 504,  was formed by a debris dam resulting from the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
Unfortuatel, the Monument had not opened when we were here. Go figure! :-(  It opens this coming week with a new visitor's center, new electronics and HD videos from the day of the blast and much footage from days after the blast.  So, looks like we'll catch this new stuff on our visit next year.  So, we left here, which by the way, is a long drive from Fort Lewis Famcamp in Tacoma.  It was about 75 miles.  And we headed for Mount Ranier NP.
As you can see, the weather got a little better.  The sun came out and it was around 64 when we arrived at the entrance to the park.  It was stll about 20 miles to Paradise Inn however, and it was one way and one way out, as all other roads into Paradise were not opened yet.  You'll see why in the next few photos.  The above phot appears as if it we were entering a rain forest, and down here I guess one could say it really resembled one.  Well, hold on to your boots folks.
Half way up the mountain to Paradise.  WOW!
I now know why Mount Ranier always looked like it had snow year-round when viewed from afar:  Because it does!
We never really got to see the top of the mountain, as it was shroud in clouds all day.  From what we read, it is most of the time anyway.  It so so massive, that it "creates" it's own weather.  Awesome!  ount Ranier is just a huge, massive mountain.  And, it too is an active volcano.
Inside the visitor's center from the second floor.
Children (and adults) playing.  Folks still hike to base camp at 10,000 feet, and some go to the top this time of year.  They say it's better to go this time of the year before the big melt and the huge man-eating crevices begin forming everywhere.  Go for it!  I'll pass!
Longmire Inn half way down the hill.  We stopped here and had a nice dinner. 
Relaxing a little after dinner before we drive the 50 miles back to Tacoma.
The old service station has been preserved at the Inn.
On the way back, in Elbe on route 7, we had to stop and read about this cute little church building.
Wow!  We didn't know that Mount Ranier has 26 "named" glaciers around her massive foundation.  Who would've thought that? 
Well, so ends another blog of our wonderful journeys.  Today (Saturday 5/14) we head out for Mount Olympus NP over on the Kitsap Pennisula and the rain forest.  Yep, rain forest.  Only one on North America.  I'll tell and show you all about in our next blog.  Till then, Joe & Nancy signing off.