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  • Day159

    Mt St Helens, Washington State

    November 3, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 0 °C

    We were both so excited to see Mt St Helens - I mean it's a volcano that erupted pretty fiercely in very recent years and the top has blown off! What more do you want?! We even spoke to a few people who have lived here all their lives and talk about how sad it is to see the landscape decimated. Unfortunately the weather misbehaved the whole time we were there and we never actually got to see the mountain.. major disappointment, but we did get to see some other really cool stuff to make up for it!
    We drove up first to the main viewing point, but started to get pretty snowy on the roads as we got up higher... Some scary moments and eventually we made it to a road block :( but we decided to do a short walk around the lava hummocks in the snow! You are walking right among huge piles of rock that came straight out of the volcano! Pretty cool. And we got some great views of the valley to see how it's been changed by the lava flow. I can see why people find it sad, but it's also beautiful and fascinating to see how life is slowly returning.
    We also went to visit some older remnants of Mt St Helens' eruptions - the lava caves and canyons. Another even hairier drive through the snow (well done Madeleine again ..!) past the hundreds of hunters out for the first day of the season. First stop was the lava canyons which were carved out a few thousand years ago during an eruption - you can see the lava flow in the cliffs! The snow on the path was pretty deep this time so we didn't do the full walk which had steep drops into canyon! The Ape caves were the next stop and we got a lot more than we bargained for! We took a couple of torches for what we thought would be a short walk into a large cave.. but we ended up scrambling over huge rocks, pulling ourselves up on ropes and staring at snow coming in through skylights! After a few hours of total darkness and seemingly never ending rockfalls to battle, we made it to the cave mouth.. and emerged into Narnia! There had been a dusting snow at the caves which are at a slighter lower altitude, but when we emerged 2 hours later, the whole place was transformed into a silent white forest! It was the most surreal experience to come out after hours into a totally different environment. It's also a one way walk so there's no-one around when you emerge which added to the sense we were in another world! Truly fascinating walk.
    Both exhausted by this point, but we did make it to the lava trees - holes in the earth where the lava had flowed around the trees and solidified. The tree sets on fire then eventually rots away to leave a 2m deep hole in the ground!
    So we didn't get to see the mountain that caused all of this, but seeing the effect she's had on the area around was almost as good!
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