After Mount Saint Helens blew up, and it had been deemed safe for tourism, my parents took a trip to Washington to visit my sister, Caryl and her family who were living in the Seattle area at the time. They decided to take a trip to see Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I’m not sure how many years after the eruption their trip was, but I do remember them telling me about how totally barren the whole place was. They told us about the buried cars and homes sticking out of the ash…broken and ruined. During that eruption, 57 people lost their lives, as well as countless numbers and species of wildlife. I can’t imagine the way that whole area must have felt to be in…so quiet and empty of life…almost like being on another planet.
Yes, it would be a trip of a lifetime…to be able to see an area devastated by a volcano eruption. It is such a powerful act of nature, and yet, behind it all is such a great loss of life and destruction of such beautiful land, and in this case, even a loss of the beautiful mountain top, now forever changed. So many trees were destroyed, literally blown over and burned in minutes. It is so strange to think that one minute the area was filled with wildlife, trees, and flowers, not to mention people…and the next minute it was all gone. Yes, they knew it was coming, but I’m sure many people truly didn’t believe it would happen, or at least that it would not be as bad as it was. I think that if they could have known what was coming, they would have left the area, but their minds couldn’t wrap themselves around that reality…in fact I don’t think most of the nation expected the eruption to be what it was. I know I was shocked by how devastating it was.
It has been over 32 years since that shocking day in our nation’s history. When I came across the pictures of my parents’ trip through the area, I began to wonder what the area looks like now. It would seem that the area is slow to return to life, but then I suppose that ash makes poor soil for many things to grow in. Weeds might do ok there, but trees and grass…maybe not so much. I don’t know how my parents or my sister, Caryl and her family felt about the area, but their pictures told the story of a disaster of epic proportions.