If you head into the Monument on the 99 Road, you pass through wooded terrain until you reach Bear Meadow. This is where the most famous sequence of photos was taken during the first part of the eruption. As you continue past the turn off, you are still in forest, and can see the mountain in the distance. You will continue just a little further around the ridge and suddenly come into the blast area.
As you drive into the blast area, you can see how some trees and other vegetation is growing back. However, the area is still desert-like compared to anywhere else in Western Washington State.
You will come to the turn to head to Ryan lake. If you turn there and go about a mile, you will see Meta Lake, one of three lakes in the Monument. It was here that several people died. Their car is still beside the 99 road.
Take a look at a before photo of Helens from the USGS and then you can appreciate the violence of an explosion that gutted this volcano.
Except for the USGS photo above, all images and text are by the pastor, all rights reserved.
©1997 Roger J. Smith
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