My Pacific Northwest

Mt. Saint Helens / Spirit Lake


Many believe, as I do, St. Helens was the most beautiful, of all the beautiful, Cascade Mountains (Rainier, Hood, Baker, Adams, Shasta,>>>}.

Not only did it’s symmetrical cone earned it’s nickname ‘Fuji-san of North America’, but Spirit Lake at the base of the mountain, was nothing short of spectacular.

My Uncle Chuck, and my oldest Brother Chuck, were avid fisherman; and EVERY CHANCE they had, they’d go fishin’.

And it didn’t matter where: out on the Sound; salmon fishing out of Westport or Ilwaco; or on one of the lakes near Tacoma (American, Spanaway, Tapps, Kapowsin), or on one of the multitude of NW rivers.

I mean, it jus’ didn’t matter.

I was never much of a fisherman because I hardly ever even had a bite, let alone a fish. And if they were skunked, I was often kidded about being bad luck.

Good natured kidding? – Sometimes yes; sometimes, hmmm, not so sure.

On occasion, we would take the long drive down to Spirit Lake because they supposedly heard reports the fishing was good; but I always had serious doubts about that being the real reason:

>>> Because to see the sunrise from the lake, and ‘light up the mountain’, WOW!! <<<

Fifty-seven people were killed in the eruption, and the most famous was the 83-year-old Harry Randall Truman who REFUSED to leave his Mt St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake.

Note: We would often stop at the lodge to load up on essentials: fishing krap, Hostess Snowballs, Rainier Beer, etc.



May 18, 1980, 8:32am

The mountain became VERY ‘active’ on March 18 with a 4.2 earthquake. Steam venting began on March 27. By the end of April the north side started to bulge.

On the morning of the 18th, a 5.1 earthquake triggered a massive collapse of the north face of the mountain, which triggered the eruption.

Note: The daily seismic activity and venting were often the lead story in the PNW, but I don’t recall ANYONE predicting such a catastrophic event.


We were living, +/-30miles west of Olympia.

The sun rises very early in the PNW in May, and I kept waking up that Sunday morning to be surprised it was still dark.

I checked the bedside clock, but I didn’t believe the time because I assumed one of my chuckle-headed boys had been playing with it, AGAIN.

I tried without success to go back to sleep; and finally couldn’t take it anymore, got up, and looked out the window.

The ash was coming down like fine snow, and my first thought was of Harry Truman.



May 21, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,


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