Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pictures from the blast site - St. Helens

Well, as promised from yesterday, these are just a few of the pictures that we shot on our road trip to Mt. St. Helens in Washington state last weekend. I have to admit that I've never been more disappointed in how my pictures turned out. They just do not even in the slightest way convey the sheer magnitude of this landscape. Imagine if you might, that what was once an enormous and vast forest was drastically and forever changed into a wasteland, which is ever so slowly, but surely returning to life. These first few shots were taken from the bottom at an observatory location near the small community of Toutle, Washington. There really wasn't much color so this first shot is of a small blooming heather plant that shows promise of spring.

My husband and my second best friend. Did I mention that it was very cold that day? It had snowed lightly earlier in the day and then again on our way down off the mountain.

This is a very large marshland that was created in this low-lying area. There is a 1 mile hiking loop around the perimeter with lots of birdlife to be viewed.

This is a shot of the Toutle River as it looks now. The ash and volcanic silt is everywhere and in some places appears to be in excess of 40-50 feet deep still. I can't even imagine how it looked with huge old growth trees and mud several stories deep flowing through here. Even as far as 30ish miles down, they had closed the I-5 bridge for fear the debris would take the bridge with it as it passed downstream.

This is another of the Toutle River with lots of new growth Alder near its' bank. Although there was no color, I found the view to be very calming and somehow beautiful in its starkness.

A little further up the mountain, this was our first view of the valley.

I zoomed in a little on this shot. The day was cold and grey and overcast with absolutely no sunlight. I would like to revisit this place on a beautiful summer's day and see the difference.

This shot is of the same valley, but taken further up the mountain and from the opposite direction. Shot using a 15x zoom. The camera does nothing for the magnitude of this valley.

Every bit of the grey in the background is volcanic ash.

This is a close-up of the Toutle River. Since the valley was torn and gouged and made so very much wider, the river has spread out and the whole thing looks vastly different than it once did.

This shot shows the roadway we had been on just a few miles back down the road. Notice all the new growth forest. The blast occured in 1980.

Again, this was shot with a 15x zoom. I would like to point out all those tiny brown dots in the foreground of this picture and on the trail. It is very hard to see in this picture, but I believe those are Elk. This will give you a small indication of just how far down the valley floor is.

This shot was taken with the wide angle lens and no zoom. Hopefully this gives you an idea of the size and depth of this valley and just how big those mountains are. I felt small and insignificant, and there is still a little bit of an eeriness to the place just imagining that when the volcano errupted, the trees, mud and lava flowed down through this location at the rate of 150 mph. Anyone or anything in its' path didn't stand a chance.

So, that's it. Someday I will revisit this place and this time I will make it up to where the road ends at the Johnson Ridge Observatory and peer down into that crater. But in the meantime, here are a few facts courtesy of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Volcano Review.
1986-2004 Snow and ice accumulate in the crater (about 650' thick) forming North America's youngest glacier. At 0.4 square miles the glacier's area is 1/5 that of all of the pre-1980 glaciers combined.
October 2004 Eruptive activity resumes with more than 1000 small earthquakes per day and small steam and ash eruptions. A new lava dome rises through the Crater Glacier at a rate of 1 dump truck load per second.
2004-2008 The quiet extrusion of mostly gas-free, semi-solid lava continues until the extrusion pauses in February 2008. During the 3-year long eruption, a total of 7 lava spines are extruded, filling the south crater with a 1,300 foot tall pile of fragmented rock (taller than the Empire State Building and 2/3 mile long by 1/3 mile wide).
Hmmm...do you think she's just taking a nap???


Grey Horse Matters said...

You took some very nice pictures, even though it was a grey day. I remember the eruption, so many years ago. Glad to see some life coming back to the area.

Gail said...

What a wonderful trip and great pictures. I am sure none of us can imagine the sheer awesomness of this valley.

Reddunappy said...

I take our volcano any day over huricane Katrina or the others, at least she stays fairly quiet. I remember watching her blow, I was 13. we used to go ride the horses as kids and have to run home because of the mtn blowing ash again. Memories.LOL but you wont get me up in that crater, I remember what she did back then!

"Ice Pony Girl" said...

Oh boy! I'd love to ride there.

Molly said...

Thank you for the road trip. Such wonderful pictures, I could feel the cold dampness and smell the new growth.

My mother remembered seeing the mountain from her grandfather's house on a hill in Portland. She was very excited when it blew, as were we all.

Nightshade said...

wonderful pictures! I would love to go visit Mt. St Helen's!

It looks like you had a great time.


Melanie said...

You took some really great photographs!!! I have never seen that area in the winter, and it really is quite stark and desolate looking, isn't it???

I remember when we camped at the state park, and I found out that the mountain was still another 1 1/2-2 hours up from there. I was like "Are you kidding me???"

Glad you had a good time! :)

allhorsestuff said...

Hay there Lorie,
Nice trip huh!I have yet to get there..can you believe that?!
I see it all the time while I ride.
Well, I am glad you and your man got away. I know, sometimes the pics just don't ampliphy the vastness of what you see and feel.
Love ya my freind!!

Anonymous said...

looks like a great place to hold an endurance ride :)

happy trails

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow! So impressive and so stark...and so ominous, too. It all looks like it's waiting.....

I loved the pics of you and your hubby the best :)


Lisa said...

What a fascinating entry and I thoroughly enjoyed your pictures. I was thinking it was eerie as I was reading. Nature is so resiliant and independent - after going through that she rebounds without complaint. Amazing.

I hope she is napping and doesn't decide to wake up for a long time.

Thanks for sharing this.