Sunday, August 12, 2012

Destructive, Instructive, Seductive Washington State

Riffe Lake where we stayed in Taidnapam State Park
Taidnapam State Park is situated between Mt. Rainier National Park and Mt St Helens Volcanic National Monument.  As most of you will remember, Mt St Helens exploded on May 18, 1980.  But several months before, magma began rising sideways shoving the northern slope outward at a rate of five feet per day.  On May 18th, the north face of Mt St Helens collapsed in a gigantic landslide.  A hurricane-force blast of hot gas, ash, and rock erupted from the site.  The blast hugged the ground and killed trees as far away as 17 miles.  Part of this exceptional site has been set aside by Congress as a national monument for learning and research, where life could return on its own.  It was awe inspiring and scary.   

On our drive up to Windy Ridge. Mt Adams is in the background.

The blast area at Mt St Helens is still very stark.

Hard to believer 32 years have passed and we were still ten miles from the blast site.

Mt St Helens today.

Mt St Helens is the youngest and most explosive of the Cascade volcanoes.  Several eruptions were larger than that in 1980.  According to scientists, thirty-five hundred years ago she erupted producing 13 times more pumice, ash, and rock than in 1980.

Native Americans named her "Fire Mountain" and she has lived up to her name.  Scientists believe she will continue intermittent eruptions for decades before resting.  You can see where the side of the mountain collapsed.

This area is called the Pumice Plain where the landslide came down..

Tenacious plants are starting to transform this barren landscape.  Trees are now beginning to grow.

This is Spirit Lake.  Isn't it beautiful.  The lake was a recreational area used by the YMCA, Boy Scout and Girl Scout Camps, and church organizations.  It also had several lodges nestled along its 12 mile shore.  

When Mt St Helens erupted the landslide plunged into Spirit Lake raising the lake's surface 200 feet and submerging everything.

As the landslide plunged into Spirit Lake, it drove water 826 feet up the opposite ridges.  Returning waves dragged these trees, already toppled by the lateral blast, into the lake.  This is how it looks today.

Mt St Helens Lodge was destroyed by the lateral blast, then buried beneath the landscape deposit and Spirit Lake.  Above are a few of the remains with the rest of the lodge under 240 feet of water.  There is a 1.5 mile long 11-foot diameter tunnel drilled through a ridge to provide an outlet that keeps Spirit Lake at at safe level but the lake is no longer inhabitable.

At Windy Ridge we climbed up 440 steps for another panoramic view. 

A view of the Cascade Mountain Range.

Areas starting to come back naturally.

It shows how long it takes to grow a tree.

The road up to Windy Ridge was slow going.  Lots of twists and turns and areas where the asphalt was actually sloughing off the side of the mountain.  This was an area where a small landslide came down and the road had to be rebuilt including a bridge to get past it. 

Beautiful Mt Hood in the background.

Mt Adams was also in view.
The next day we went to Mt Rainier National Park.  It's a magnificent mountain standing at over 14,000 feet.

Beautiful Mt Rainier in the background as we drove into the park..

This is Box Canyon, 180 feet from the road down to the water.

Snow was still showing from all the glaciers on Mt Rainier.

You can see the small landslides in the distance.

Waterfalls were seen all along the drive.

Reflection Lake with Mt Rainier in the background.

Another view of Mt Rainier and we were only at 4,800 feet. 

Look at all the glaciers on the mountain and this was August.

Everything was green and beautiful.

The wildflowers were blooming everywhere which made the drive up even more delightful.

We stopped at Narada Falls along the drive.

The water is from the glaciers melting in the sun.  We even got a rainbow in the picture.

This is the Nisqually Glacier on Mt Rainier.  It has receded 1.5 miles in the last 150 years.

It's hard to see but there is a small river in the center from the glacier melting.

All the debris is volcanic rock that was in the glacier.

A cool man-made bridge over the Nisqually River.

Another old artifact Brett found.

We also found some hiking trails near Taidnapam and took the pups for long hikes.

This was a waterfall on Goat Creek Trail.  We were able to walk behind it and feel the misty water coming down.

A tree we saw growing under a ledge.  The top of the tree started growing horizontally when it reached the rock.

Lots of water and rugged areas where trees had fallen.

While staying in the area we also attended a Blueberry Festival at Mossyrock, WA.  

There was a parade.

This was Captain America who caught the blueberry burglar before he stole the festival.  Hey, remember this is small town America!

The Mossyback Drill Team........ladies with Dekalb drills.

Drinking blueberry beer.

There was also an antique auto show with hundreds of beautiful revamped cars.  We have never seen so many antique cars in one place.

Another week gone and we are now heading to Forks, Washington.  Forks, you say, home of the vampires and the Twilight series?  Well the Captain booked us a week here thinking it was close to the home of some RV friends.  Wrong!  But we decided to stick it out and and explore Forks (yawn) and the Olympic National Park and other nearby sights.  Stay tuned for the next episode.......  Peace!

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