Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Mysterious and active Mt St Helens

We live in the riverside community of Kelso Wa, and the Coweeman River runs past the back yard of our house. Kelso is at the confluence of three rivers The Cowlitz, The Coweeman, and the Columbia River. It is a nice little community mainly supported by the Lumber Industry. This town and the town of Longview Wa popped up because of the huge tracts of timber here in SW Washington. I should blog about Longview in the future it has and interesting story as does Kelso.
To the east of us is the still steaming Mt St Helens that erupted in May of 1980. Volcanoes pique my geeky interest so I have wanted to go up there and see it up close for some time. When I first got here to Washington State I took a trip around to the back side of the mountain to get a picture of the famous mountain. You can't really see it from town because of the hills that block the view. This is the picture I

You Can't see the caldera from this side, it is actually on the north side as I found out later. Silly me the map guy never looked at the map or satellite images to find out. This was a good adventure though got to see some cool potential camping areas. Cute girlfriend would like us to blow the dust off our unused new camping gear sometime before we are too old to camp...grin

This blog is really the set up for the unusual things I saw on my last trip up to the Mt St Helens area so this will be a two parter.

Just before I went up to Anacortes I took a trip up the Highway that takes you to the see the north side. The weather was iffy and it was trying to snow when I got to the first observation area (There are two). There is a Science and Learning Center at the newly formed Cold Water Lake and the Johnson Ridge Observatory. I like how the Science and Learning Center looks from the air.

I Think it looks like a Humming bird...or maybe a Thunderbird!
This is what the day looked like when I got to this place.

You couldn't even see the bottom of the caldera the clouds were so low. I headed back down and got some video of this cool waterfall on the way down.

On the way up I passed this sign that said "Bigfoot Country". I pulled into this place and it has this concrete monster to greet you.

  That Animal Planet show "Finding Bigfoot" should come here and save some time. There is a curios shop there and this poor A Frame house that got buried during the Mt St Helens eruption. This poor A Frame cabin is buried almost to the second floor of the place in volcanic ash and mud.
It is pretty interesting how mother nature is recovering after that eruption. It is happening at a faster rate than the experts ever thought it would.

I remember this eruption. The news was a buzz for a few weeks a head of the disaster. I was reviewing all that and ran across the story of Harry R. Truman. I remember this story. This cantankerous old man wouldn't leave the mountain no mater how much the authorities pleaded with him. He owned an Inn and a little store right below the north side of the mountain. He never thought the mountain would get him. Sadly the place where his Inn stood is now under 200 feet of water at the reshaped Spirit Lake. When you get up there it is unbelievable the amount of earth that was moved during this disaster new lakes formed because of the mountain coming down and blocking streams you are in awe when you see it. The before and after picture really show how much change there was. The logs that were dumped into spirit lake are still floating on it surface to this day.
Recently we had a clear day here in the Pacific Northwest and I wasn't working so I took another drive up there this time with cute grand daughter. It was a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky.

This time I wanted to get right up to the Observatory and look into the mouth of the beast but they had the place close so you could even drive up to it. Cute grand daughter and I had to settle for the Science and Learning Center.

You can just about see the new lava dome in the caldera. Cute grand daughter had a great time looking at stuff. She looked through a spotters scope one of the park rangers had set up. We watched a movie about the eruption, and she played with this creepy interactive talking ranger thing set up much like the talking heads in the Haunted House at Disneyland.

After that we set off back down the mountain. We made a stop so she could play in the snow next to the road in one place. The Army Corps of Engineers built dam to hold back the massive amount of sediment created by the eruption. There was enough sediment pushed down stream all the way to the Columbia River to raise the channel enough that ships could not pass through to get to Portland for a short time.
Well cute grand daughter and I stop by there and hiked to the dam. It is about a one mile hike out to the display out at the dam. Wouldn't you know, the Dam display had been vandalized so there wasn't much to see.
The Hike out was fun though. There was some sticks near the trail head so I picked one up for a walking stick. Cute grand daughter picked one up too. Hers of course was twice as tall as she was, and as we walked along she picked up a bunch of other sticks to compare and see if they would make a better walking stick.

This is where the hike got a little weird. Those two bent over trees.
We hiked out to the dam and goofed around there for a little while. When we parked our car there was what looked like a mother and her, maybe 10+ year old, son with her. She was sitting in her car when we got there and then followed us out but kept a little distance from us. She didn't go out on to the dam when she got there, but her son played around near the fenced edge while we went out to see the non existent display near the middle of the dam. As we left the dam structure I spotted this miniature trail. I thought it was something that water had run down but on closer inspection it was a trail made by these rather large red headed black ants. We poked at their ant mound with our sticks to see how they reacted and the woman son came over and talked to us about him discovering the ants. The mom and son started down the trail ahead of us and kept stopping to make sure we were behind them. She was spooked about something.
We made all made it back to our cars and cute grand daughter had to take her stick with her. She had to go to the restroom so we stopped at the Bigfoot Curios shop so she could use the facilities. While there I got her a little treasure chest and a quarts crystal amethyst to put in it. She loved that box all the way home, putting the rock in and taking it out. She told me how she was going to show it to her friends. She was surprised when I told her that Amethyst was her birth stone. Spoiling Grand Children like a proud Papa should.
It was a great day except for those bent over trees. I think I know what those are!

More to come!

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