To get to the only active volcano in the contiguous United States you have to travel through Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which is named for the first forester of the United States Forest Service. Pinchot was a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt. In his book The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, leftist journalist Timothy Egan recounts Pinchot's role in guiding the USFS in its early days and his dismissal by Roosevelt's successor, William Howard Taft. Pinchot, a Republican like Teddy and Taft, later served two separate terms as governor of Pennsylvania.
We took the scenic way from Portand to Mt. Saint Helens--the Wind River Highway.
That's Mount St. Helens from the south. There was very little destruction on this side of the volcano from the 1980 eruption.
The '80 blast was directed to the north. Here you see some dead trees killed by the eruption along with some new growth.
A tiny solitary cloud overlooks some old tree trunks. William Wordsworth phrased it better, "I wandered lonely as a cloud."
Yes, that's steam emitting from St. Helens. The mountain is just four miles away from where I snapped this pic. The 1980 eruption caused the biggest landslide in recorded history; Mt. St. Helens elevation shrank from 9,677 feet above sea level to 8,364 feet in just seconds.
Thirty-six years after the mountain blew its top there are still tree mats, that is, piles of floating logs, on Spirit Lake.
That's the southern end of Spirit Lake. Somewhere beneath the water and 200 feet of muck and ash lies Spirit Lake Lodge, which was owned and operated by Harry R. Truman. The curmudgeonly 83-year-old World War I veteran refused federal evacuation orders; Truman's beloved mountain entombed him and his 16 cats. In the made-for-TV movie rushed out after the eruption, St. Helens, Art Carney plays Truman.
From the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument you can also catch a breathtaking view of Mount Adams, an inactive volcano just 34 miles away. You can also see Mount Rainier, Washington state's tallest peak and yes, another volcano, from the national monument.
One last look.
This is the closest I'll ever get to the moon.
From death comes life.
Here's a view from one of the many hiking trails inside the national monument.
Time to move on.