In all honesty, I rarely spent my free time in the mountains, despite living in two incredible mountain ranges. I’m much more at home on waves then ridges. But still, every once in a while I’ll turn my back on the ocean and head skyward. After over twenty years of living in the Pacific Northwest, Theresa and I finally turned our attention on one of the most notorious mountains in the US if not the world; Mt. St. Helens.
Mt. St. Helens
An active stratovolcano, St. Helens takes if name from Lord St. Helens and was named by Capt. Vancouver during his explorations of the area. Mount St. Helens is most notorious for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, at 8:32 a.m. PDT, the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of the highway were destroyed.
A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale caused an eruption that reduced the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,365 ft (2,550 m), replacing it with a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche was up to 0.7 cubic miles (2.9 km3) in volume. The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was created to preserve the volcano and allow for its aftermath to be scientifically studied.
I wrote a novel about Israelis who live their own lives on the slope of a volcano. Near a volcano one still falls in love, one still gets jealous, one still wants a promotion, one still gossips. – Amos Oz
At the time of its eruption, I was attending college in the south and didn’t pay too much attention to it at the time. Standing on the roadside look at the obviously missing top to the volcano I can only shudder when I try to imagine what that day would have been like to those living in the area.