Last September, I finally got to see one of the most famous places in the state of Washington, Mt. St. Helens. I have written before about the eruption that took place back in 1980, the year after I arrived in the Pacific Northwest.
These are pictures I took at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is named after USGS geologist David A. Johnston, who died making observations of the eruption.
That's a screenshot of a TangoGPS image of Mt. St. Helens, using Google's satellite photo data. I've added the notations to show where state route 504 ("S.R. 504") and the Johnston Ridge Observatory are in relation to the Mt. St. Helens crater.
As the first ridge the eruption hit, Johnston Ridge didn't fare all that well. Thirty years later, the ridge is still littered with dead trees and stumps that were created by the explosion.
There's a big multimedia presentation at the Johnston Observatory about the eruption, and the things that have happened on the mountain since that day.
The most spectacular view, of course, is the mountain itself. The Observatory sits near the open side of the Mt. St. Helens crater, providing a view of the still-active region inside. This is a panorama of the mountain, with the Observatory's patio on the right:
Catch the mountain at the right time, and you can see into the crater itself:
The lava dome is clearly visible within the crater. That view didn't last long. As the preceding photo shows, the clouds started obscuring the crater. Before we left less than two hours later, it was barely visible.
That dome has changed shape several times since 1980. As I said, this mountain is still active. This sign shows that rather clearly, as it discusses the various eruptions and changes that have happened just in the last few thousand years. Every few centuries, something about this mountain changes in spectacular fashion.
Click on the images to enlarge. Have a good Sunday.
UPDATE: Added an explanation of the last photo.