As you drive along Highway 12 east from I-5 there is one view of Mt. St. Helens near the road. If you go past Mossyrock and Rife Lake but are not yet to Morton, you will see Hopkins Hill view spot marked on the highway. You take a left and go a couple of miles to this spot.
When you get to Randle turn right and head south. There is a major bend in the road but go straight. You will cross the Cispus River, shown here as it appears further upstream. Take the road that follows the river to go to Windy Ridge by the main route (25 road to 99), or to go to the Iron Creek Campground. There is an interactive map of the area.
If you cross the Cispus and don't turn left but go straight ahead, on the 26 road, you will travel through some beautiful forest until you reach the blast area. One of the first sights is this one of Ryan Lake. It was a beautiful small alpine lake with a campground before the eruption, but you can see what the eruption did. Not all of the trees were knocked down, from the blast, but there was still enough heat to kill everything. I think four people died here.
As you drive from Ryan Lake towards Meta Lake you enter more of the blast area. This cloudy day photo can give you an impression of how much of the area around Mt. St. Helens looked. All the vegetation was destroyed. The closer you get to the mountain the more like a desert, or moonscape, the area looks. Most of the dead trees are gone now, salvaged before the National Monument was created.
As you come near to Windy Ridge, there are several wonderful views of Spirit Lake.
The USGS has another view of the Lake with Mt. Rainier in the background or with St. Helens reflected in the lake.
This view of St. Helens is from the north along the road to windy ridge. You can get a good sense of how it looks. You would assume it was a dessert area just to look at it, yet western Washington gets a large amount of rain every year.
The image above is a USGS photo of the lava dome, by Lyn Topinka, used with permission. Click on the photo or here to see the original. They have a series of "slides" that show the Mountain and Monument in detail. (You can see what the Mountain looked like before the main eruption.) The USGS Cascade Mountain Observatory is the most valuable resource on this mountain and other volcanoes.
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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We hope you will join us for Eucharist on Sunday at one of our three locations, Morton, St. Yves near Mossyrock, or Packwood, but if you can't and are looking for a church then try one of the communities in the South Sound Deanery.