Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mount Saint Helens

Scoot has an abiding interest in volcanoes.  He does a school report on volcanoes every couple of years.  When we went to Japan, he said he wanted to "walk on a volcano."  We figured out, too late, that he meant "hike up Mount Fuji."  This summer, we decided it was time to visit Mount Saint Helens.

Dandelionslayer and I remember the big 1980 eruption.  We were on the other side of the country, of course, but we remember hearing about it, and seeing the movies at school.  My parents' friends, who lived in Yakima at the time, sent us a vial of ash the next Christmas.  So we felt a sort of connection to this place that we hadn't visited.

Much of the surrounding area has been replanted with noble firs.  They stand there like round hairbrushes, the limbs sticking out so straight that you can barely see them.  But I was surprised at the barrenness of the mountain itself.  A ranger told us about forms of life that braved the conditions of the crater soon after the eruption, only to be disrupted by later events. 

This dome in the crater keeps growing, as does a circular glacier that surrounds it.  And the steam rises.  This is definitely a live mountain.

Plant life is creeping in around it, though, like this paintbrush . . .

. . . lupines, blooming a little later than at our sea level home, and . . .

. . . I really don't know what this is.  Any ideas?

Of course, the geologic formations are easier to see without so much plant life.  I particularly admired this amphitheatre,

and this frosted ridge.

Some of the tourists were pretty cute, too!

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