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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Highway to the Clouds

We started off from our motel at Woodland Washington and got onto Interstate 5.

Right from the beginning there was a sense of the fabulous beauty we would find once we arrived in the mountains.

The Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest viewed the mountains as Gods who provided the abundance of life and which also had rivalries between each other. Upon arriving among them it is understandable that they would be regarded as deities. With no television or news, no radio or sounds other than that of nature, their presence is overwhelming and awe inspiring. If you listen you can hear them speak.

There are three rivers that descend
from Mt. St. Helens.
The river beds are still loaded with volcanic ash; we drove alongside this one on the way to the summit.

The road to the last of three observatories climbed up and into the clouds.

The expanse of the wilderness
was breathtaking.

We crossed this bridge ....

...and entered the clouds.

Most of the day was gray and drizzling. Some times the ran stopped, but it rarely cleared. We stopped at three Mt. St. Helens information locations on the way to the top. Each had day by day measurements and representations of what the mountain was experiencing the days preceding the eruption on May 18th 1980 and the catastrophic results that ensued as well as current seismographic readings and information about the possibility of future eruptions.

This is the wall of the last of the three
observatories with the designation of Mt St. Helens on it.
Inside was this massive tree trunk. It was easily three and one half feet in diameter and was salvaged and used to show the tremendous power of the volcano. Despite millions of dollars of reforestation efforts the effects of the volcano in 1980 were still plainly visible on the sides of some mountains.

In the observatory there is a theatre and a film is shown periodically throughout each day that documents the days leading up to the eruption. Behind the screen there is a window and curtains that are opened after the film to allow the audience to look out and see Mt. St. Helens in the distance framed in the window. Because of the rain and low clouds we did not have this opportunity.

This photograph was taken in back of the observatory overlooking the valley and mountain ranges in the distance. Despite the clouds it was beautiful and awe inspiring.

Text and photographs Copyright by David H. Roche 2006

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A practitioner of the art of living with the intent of learning how to die without fear.