My Pacific Northwest

Mt. Saint Helens / Spirit Lake

1

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.

***

ERUPTION:

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.

***
AT THE TIME OF THE ERUPTION:

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.

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

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