Mt. St. Helens

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We had a wonderful weekend up at Mt. St. Helens this past weekend. It was the first time the two of us had used the camper we bought last fall. Mike spent the entire winter outfitting it, making changes, and generally getting it ready to go so that all we had to do was pack some food and some clothes and then go have fun! Which we did! We had no problems with the exception of a leaky hose fitting in the cabinet beneath the sink. Our camper has a very small bathroom (which is great...this camper despises public facilities). The TP dispenser is inside that cabinet, and there is also room to store extra rolls. When I reached in for some, I found the roll we were using was saturated with water, and then realized all the extra rolls were saturated as well. Uh Oh. 

Upon investigation, Mike discovered a loose hose fitting. It was fine until he used the outside shower to rinse something off. When he pulled the hose (coiled under the sink) to the outside, something came loose and began to leak. He just tightened it, and the problem was solved...except that now we had no TP. We just went down the road a few miles to the local KOA and found some RV-safe TP there. And, if you've been following our travels the last few years, then you know we've had our share of traveling disasters. This one was small potatoes in contrast.

So, on with the fun!

We stayed at a sort of crappy little park in Silver Lake, WA. Various sources have the name of this town as one word: Silverlake; or two words: Silver Lake, so who knows what it is? Anyway. The park was quiet and the view wasn't bad. Just pretend you don't see all the power lines.

The weather could have been a little sunnier, but we're not complaining. We got sprinkled on a few times, and the skies opened up into a veritable deluge a few times, but not when we wanted to be outside. Given our usual luck, the weather was downright cooperative.

And I just want to give you a peek at how tastefully decorated the interior of the camper is.

We passed by the national park visitor's center on the way to the RV park, and I picked up my first refrigerator magnet for the camper. (Did I ever tell you I collect refrigerator magnets? Truly, I do. One of these days I'll give you a tour of the refrigerator door. Who's up for that?) Anyway...ahem.

They won't stick anywhere except on the range hood, and so I don't suppose, technically, they can be called "refrigerator" magnets. Also, I collect shot glasses. Got one of those too. (Yes, I like drinking tequila shots, with the lime, and the salt, and the whole thing.)

Traffic was terrible getting out of Portland, and we didn't get set up until late in the day. Our first day, we pretty much ate dinner, drank some wine, and relaxed. While we were at the ranger station, we asked about hiking recommendations, and the ranger recommended the Hummocks Loop Trail, shown on this map:

Saturday morning, I did my first cooking in the camper. I made Denver Omelets, which we had with the Oatmeal Currant Breakfast Bread (link to the recipe) I baked the day we left, and that turned out to be a good choice for a day of hiking. I like it warmed up a little and spread with some soft cream cheese. Oh yes, and little kitchen...big mess...but not too bad for cleaning up.

After breakfast, we set out on our hike. It was a bit of a drive from where we were camping, but a nice drive, and interesting. Along the way, we stopped off at the "Forestry Learning Center", which was a fancy structure built in the aftermath of the eruption by Weyerhauser. Weyerhauser owned the land around the mountain, and it was their timber that was rendered not much more than a field of toothpicks following the eruption. The exhibits were interesting and educational. If you find yourself in the area, it was definitely worth a stop-in, and it was free. There we learned some interesting facts.

First off, there was some discussion about whether to restore the trees in the area or whether to let nature take its course. There were good arguments for both, and so some sort of compromise decision was made to set aside a large swath for the national park, and to allow Weyerhauser to replant the rest. Take a look at these stats:

Sorry for that shadow...it was unavoidable. But here's what happened: They salvaged enough timber to build 85,000 regular-sized three bedroom homes. (They didn't necessarily build the homes...just giving you an idea how much timber was salvaged.) Then, when they were given the go-ahead to replant, they became the nation's largest nursery stock supplier in the process because they eventually planted over two BILLION seedlings. Think of that! And then on and on. Their efforts have been wildly successful as demonstrated in these images below:

There were other pictures of other areas, and seeing it in person what impressive. Of course, the trees now have 12 more years of grown...all uniform in height, which was interesting...but truly, you'd almost never know the devastation had occurred.

And Mother Nature has had her day as well. While the reforestation is not as dramatic as Weyerhauser has been able to accomplish, it is still impressive. 

So let's just get on with our hike. Here's the trailhead:

The "Boundary Trail" takes you up to Johnston Observatory (observing volcanic activity...not stars). David Johnston was a USGS volcanologist who was killed when the eruption occurred, and there are several places named for him. The "boundary" in that name refers to the boundary between Weyerhauser reforestation and nature's efforts. And this trail is also a part of:

Now as we go, please mind your manners:

And I'll tell you what: I wouldn't pick up a frog if you paid me $250. Yeah, I'm built that way.

So the wildflowers were pretty amazing, and keep in mind that this is all the work of nature as I show you these images. Some of you might have seen some of these posted on Facebook already, but I'm hoping you'll learn something with this more in-depth description of what we saw. 

We noticed these little guys right away. After studying them all along the trail, I'm prepared to say that I think these are tiny baby lupine reseeding themselves. The little star-shaped leaf clusters were no larger than a dime, and the rain drops clinging to them made them sparkle.

Here are the same leaf clusters blooming with the familiar blue lupine blossoms. 

We saw larger clusters along the trail as well, similar to these, although these were cultivated at the Forestry Learning Center:

Also, lots of foxglove in all different colors. There were the usual purple ones:

Light pink ones:

And also some pretty white ones, although my pictures of those weren't very good. Here are a few close-ups.

I took this one below with my iPhone with attached Olloclip macro lens. Cool!

The Indian Paintbrush were really the stars of the show on this hike

growing right to the trail's edge:

Here are a few more:

The little white flowers below were no bigger than the head of a glass pin.

We passed through all different sorts of terrain. Maybe you're wondering, as we did, what "hummocks" are. Well, I'm here to tell you that we learned something new.

As we were reading this sign, Mike asked, "What's a hummocks?" And so right there on the trail I Googled it on my iPhone and came up with the answer! (What a marvelous world we live in!) Here's what Wikipedia had to say about it:

Hummock is a general geological term referring to a small knoll or mound above ground. They are typically less than 15 meters in height and tend to appear in groups or fields. It is difficult to make generalizations about hummocks because of the diversity in their morphology and sedimentology. The term hummock, or hummocky, is also applied to extremely irregular surfaces. An ice hummock is a boss or rounded knoll of ice rising above the general level of an ice-field. Hummocky ice is caused by slow and unequal pressure in the main body of the packed ice, and by unequal structure and temperature at a later period.

And studying the hummocks at Mt. St. Helens has given geologists a better understanding of the forces at work in other eruptions around the world, including Mt. Fuji, Mt. Shasta, and several others. Here are a few examples of it that are easy to see (although the pictures aren't particularly thrilling).

It can be seen all along the banks of the Toutle River, which was at one time a beautiful fast-moving mountain river, and is now reduced to a muddy stream choked with ash. We stood at one point and looked east:

and then west:

Here is where the weather might have been more cooperative, because we would have liked to have seen the whole mountain. That is the crater you see in the background (at least, what isn't covered by clouds). The crater is "C" shaped, and the opening of the "C" is on the left side of the mountain. But I really took this picture to show you the lumpy landscape made up of hummocks.

Many ponds and marshes are also a part of the landscape, and we passed through more densely forested regions where we saw them.

You can see in the image below that it had started raining lightly. The tree canopy was dense enough that we stayed dry.

In this image below, you can see a marshy area that abruptly drops off. We believe this is a large beaver dam creating the distinct levels. I've indicated the sticks with that pink arrow, but the dam extended quite some distance. 

We also walked along a stream for quite a distance, and it was very quiet. I made a little video, mainly so you could hear what we heard. If you're on a hand-held device, you'll probably have to move to a computer to see it. It's only a few seconds, but shhhhhhhhh, listen...

After that, we had lunch in the parking lot (one of the advantages of having a camper rather than a big fifth wheel...we brought it with us!), and then we took naps. Then we drove up to Johnston Observatory. There, we could see some of the large trees that were blown over and then half buried in ash.

You can see more on the left half of the image below. Also, notice the wildflowers in bloom.

Were it not for the cloud-cover, we could have seen into the crater here, but alas. It was not meant to be on this day. We weren't complaining because we were so happy that the rain wasn't falling harder. Still, you can get a sense of the landscape and another view of the hummocks.

And that was pretty much the end of our exploration of Mt. St. Helens. We plan to go up again on a sunnier day...just to make a day trip of it. The park is only about an hour and a half from our home, and so it would be fun to go up again just for the day. No doubt, we'll take more camping trips too because there is lots of hiking to be done.

So I've been on the computer too long already this morning, and I need to get going. I want to go to Curves, and then to the grocery store, and then I really, really, really need to do some housework. I doubt any sewing will get done today.

What's on your agenda for the day? Planning your Fourth perhaps? I know I am.


Dora, the Quilter said...

I am so glad you were able to take your new camper out for an enjoyable trip!
I think your post about Mt. St. Helens is the most I've seen and read in one place (at least about the recovery) since it happened when I was "just a young thing." Looking back, it does seem the time went amazingly quickly, but it's been a long time.

beaquilter said...

Love the pics and plans.... yup got plans for the 4th and more :)

Anna said...

what beautiful and educational pics!

Judy H. said...

We drive past Mt. St. Helens frequently when we visit my parents in Oregon City, and often end up stopping at Toutle River rest area. I never stopped to think what Toutle River was like before the eruption, though.

gpc said...

What a beautiful walk! I listened to the video clip several times -- could listen to that all day! :)

WoolenSails said...

The trailer looks great, that is a nice unit to have for your shorter trips. Enjoyed seeing the photos of your hike, and it is nice to see so much green and beauty that rose from the ashes.


barbara woods said...

loved your pictures , want ever get to see it my self

Christine M said...

I love that you have decorated your camper with that gorgeous camper stitchery hoop. Thanks for the tour Barbara.

Cath said...

Great Post Barbara......I so enjoyed visiting Mt St Helens (probably the only time I ever will)

Andee said...

I felt like I parked a camper right next to you and went along! So gorgeous out there and wow on the trees, so glad to see that! I too wouldn't pick up a frog--or much other wildlife--if you paid me!

Brown Family said...

We went to the Johnston Observatory. It was a very clear day and you could see steam/smoke rising from the crater!

andrea@tidelinequilts said...

Loved your post, so descriptive! And your photos are beautiful. I love making bread, and can't wait to try your recipe! Thanks for sharing!

Diane Wild said...

What a great trip. Envious of your adventures. Beautiful pics. Thanks for the tour.

Siouxzq64@gmail.com said...

Thank you for the lovely post. I miss seeing the mountain and all the wildflowers. Thanks for sharing all you learned too.

Dana Gaffney said...

Wow, thank you, that was fascinating. Are they doing anything to try to clean the river or just let nature do it's thing? It's sad that it's not cleaner.

Tami C said...

Thanks for taking us along on your maiden voyage of your new camper. Kenny and I are considering getting one to do a little traveling. I loved all your pictures and descriptions of what you were seeing. I especially loved the sound of the little stream. I could probably listen to that all day!

Snoodles said...

Awesome post, fun commentary and as always, gorgeous photos. Love that macro shot you did! :)

Dixie said...

Really interesting, thanks.

Doris Rice, The Quilting Queen said...

Nice nature tour and very interesting. The only thing better would be being there in person. We have Indian Paint Brush here in TX and it is beautiful with the bluebonnets in Mar/April.

Kate said...

The changes are amazing, both in terms of new growth and what still show of the original damage.

quiltzyx said...

Thanks for the trip to Mt. St. Helens! Knowing that it's close to 100f outside today (I'm at work right now), I can pretend that I'll be going out to a cool day when I leave at 4pm!
The camper stitchery looks perfect in the dining area of the camper! As for the kitchen, I lived in an apartment in Pasadena once & our stove was actually a camper stove. It had 4 burners, but you couldn't really put 4 regular sized pots on it at the same time. And the oven above it had a slot that an attached pin-on-a-chain to lock it closed! lol I don't recall if I ever used the oven the 2 years we lived there. There was a regular size sink & counter there, at least. Sorry about the water hose leak, but glad Mike was able to easily fix it.
It looks like Weyerhaeuser has done an admirable job - over a billion seedlings planted! Wow! The wildflowers on the au natural part are beautiful too. I hadn't realized that foxglove had "hairs" in the bells.
Great little audio-video! Now all we need is smell-o-vision to go along with it. ;)
Thanks again for the trip & doing all the research so we could learn something new today! You're the best!!