Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mt. St. Helens...29 years later

We went to within five miles of St. Helens Saturday...our third visit in 15 years. Each time it is a thrill to see what is left and what is growing after the 1980 blast that shook the Pacific Northwest. The mountain lost 1500 feet back then leaving a crater in the top of the old volcano. It is quite a sight close up. However, looking at the pictures one does not get the sense of size and distance.

It takes about two and a half hours to get to the closest visitor center. There is one just off I-5 in SW Washington, but you have another 45 miles to weave your way into and up to 4,000 feet to get to the closest vantage point. It is good highway with sweeping mountain vistas and very high bridges. As you travel up to the view point you pass the areas damaged by the eruption. Fifteen years ago, when we fist visited Mt. St. Helens you could still see fallen trees; today, not so much.

Jim joined the Golden Age Pass club for national parks. You pay $10 and get a lifetime pass. I joined at Yellowstone back in 2003 and have been gain free access into national sites since then. The P-burgh Lutzes don't have much need for such a pass in their locality, but they do get to Virginia frequently which is rich in such places. Just an aside that I think is indicative of the times.

We started down the mountain to find a picnic spot...we have eaten there before, and found ourselves in the midst of a wedding which used MSH as a backdrop. We got there just in time for a the walk down the aisle. After the brief ceremony, the couple got in a helicopter and flew into the volcano.

Out trip home was uneventful...Portland on a Saturday afternoon is a piece of cake.
As we crossed the Colombia, we saw Mt. Hood for the first time in their visit. The clouds have finally lifted.

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