Mt St Helens
Mount St Helens Travel Blog› entry 13 of 18 › view all entries
I found this great campground, Eco Park, near the north entrance of Mt. St. Helens. They are a private campground with trails down to the Toutle River. I grabbed my pack and headed down the mile long horse trail to the river. I wanted to find a nice big lava bomb to take home. I certainly found plenty of smaller ones! The river was gorgeous - in addition to the lava bombs and dead trees and debris, there were lots of elk tracks and fresh, new green plants springing up. I started packing my bag with lava bombs and then I hoisted it on my back and realized I was never going to make it back up that hill with so much weight on my back. And I couldn't carry the big lava bomb I wanted.
So I repacked with just a few smaller pieces.
I stopped at the Johnston Ridge Observatory and watched a very powerful video on the eruption. Then I walked up to the viewing platform and just took in the view. The volcano is so beautiful. And then you look around and see all this destruction still visible more than 20 years later. All the trees are still blown down radially from the blast, the trunks now bleached from the weather. Flowers are just starting to peek out of the ash that is everywhere. A little clump of grass here, a couple of flowers there, the land is regenerating.
Off in the distance, the Toutle River is still flowing around debris from the eruption that never washed down the valley. You can barely make out the stream amidst the mud that still covers the valley. Just below, you can see hummocks - or large pieces of the volcano that blew off during the eruption.
As it was still early in the season, not all of the roads were open in the park, and the southern road just opened that day, but it was a good 3 hours of driving just to get there. I was doing a quick tour to see what was here, so I decided to skip that . I know I'll be coming back. I want to spend more time here and Crater Lake and Mount Rainier. All three are beautiful parks with lots of hiking to explore.