Christine’s Tea Room

My favorite Place in Washington State: Mount St. Helens (I)
by Christine Chen -- June 17th, 2013

 Mount St. Helens is located Skamania County, Washington, about 96 miles south of Seattle, Washington and 50 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon. The volcano is part of the Cascade Range and belongs to the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanoes [1]. The highest peak is 8365 ft. (2550 m) in elevation.

Mount St. Helens captured at Hummocks trail.

Have you ever seen an active volcano in your life before? Well, I have seen several ones but Mount St. Helens is the most spectacular and impressive one among all.

My understanding about Mt. St. Helens came in three folds. Through reading the description about Mount St. Helens in the brochure of Western Field Trip, it was my first time knowing this place. The second time, we were on the flight from Washington, D.C. to Seattle, Wash.. Before arriving at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, we saw it through the windows on an airplane and it was spectacular from the aerial view. The third time seeing it, I was already on the visitor center at the Johnson Ridge, also the best observatory point of the volcano cave.

Mount St. Helens captured at the Visitor Center of Johnson Ridge.

Mount St. Helens is also notorious for the latest eruption in May 18, 1980. The magma from eruption flattened 230 square miles (600 km2), causing 57 deaths and a huge amount of social and economic loss. The visitor center on the Johnson Ridge represents the numerous geological studies that had been done in Mount St. Helens, informing visitors the cause, process and consequences of the eruption in 1980. Normally, due to the heavy snow in the winter the visitor center is open only for half of the year. However, in memorial to the thirty-year-ago eruption, there will be a grand re-opening for the visitor center on May 18th, 2013. We were very lucky to be able to pay a special visit to the visitor center at May 9th, several days before the re-opening thanks to our special guests Ken Russell, Dan Omdal, and the faculty of Western Field Trip. (The only sad thing is that we couldn’t buy any beautiful post cards or cute coyote dolls at the gift shops because they were not open yet.)

The edge of the area affected by the 1980 eruption. You would have been safe if you reached this side of the bridge successfully.


Jessie, Kevin and I took this photo in front of the Visitor Center at Johnson Ridge. We had great time during this trip!

Thanks to our hosts Ken(left) and Dan (middle, in the back) that brought us along several stops learning about Mt. St. Helens history, habitat restoration and wildlife management. Ken Russell is the previous Forest Pathologist who recently retired from DNR and Dan Omdal is the current Forest Pathologist in DNR and also a MF’88 alumni. With Joe and Alec, our funny fellow travelers at the Elk Rock.

The visitor center on the Johnson Ridge represents the numerous geological studies about Mt. St. Helens, informing visitors of the cause, process and consequence of the eruption in 1980. My personal favorites in the visitor center are the short film and the 3D eruption model. There are two films, and the latest one is newly produced for re-opening, the short film reveals the breathtaking moments in the 1980 eruption. Thanks to HD film making technique, it feels so real. After the film ends, DO NOT leave the theater immediately otherwise you will lose one of the most spectacular view at Johnson Ridge. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, and the only thing I can tell is that it worth a try!


(to be continued)

[1] Wikipedia- Mount St. Helens; June 16th 2013.

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