The Johnston Ridge Observatory is the visitor center at the end of Spirit Lake Highway (hwy 504), the Western entrance to Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument. From the Observatory, we hiked to Harry's Ridge, an 8 mile RT journey through the blast zone of the May 1980 eruption. Harry was a long time resident of Spirit Lake in the shadow of Mount St Helens, he couldn't bear to leave when she erupted and remains there with his beloved mountain in spirit today.
This was an amazing trail and we hit it at the perfect time of year...flowers were exploding all over the hillsides, it was sunny and 75 degrees, very few people on the trail...I think we'll have to call this a Favorite!
|Just a quarter mile into the trail we are entranced by the flowers and the views.|
|Did I mention the flowers?|
|To the North were mountains denuded of trees in the 1980 blast, about 10 miles from MSH.|
|The trail hugs Johnston Ridge and draws us nearer to the heart of the blast zone.|
Hans is a small figure on the trail.
|This is a look back at Johnston Ridge, the visitor center is practically invisible atop the ridge.|
This ridge took the brunt of the blast and channeled the landslide debris to the West,
down the Toutle River flood plain.
|We are right there, face to face, with this incredible, living mountain. |
It's impossible not to be bowled over by the obvious force and destructive nature of the
landslide and eruption 34 years earlier.
|The trail continued around Johnston Ridge and into a small valley full of hummocks,|
large deposits of rocks and debris left behind as the initial landslide moved through.
|Lupine are very hardy and were the first flowers to come back to the devastated landscape just a year after the blast.|
|Rising out of the valley we were treated to incredible views of Spirit Lake and Mt Adams, 45 miles away.|
Thousands of tree trunks from the 1980 blast float upon Spirit Lake.
|Before us, the end of our trail enticed us toward a full frontal view of Mount St Helens.|
|We shared Harry's Ridge with a seismic monitoring station, and no one else!|
|The bulge in the center of the crater is evolving. |
Activity over the last 34 years has replaced 7% of the lost mountain.
|Steam issues from a gaping crater.|
|Steam billows from the top edges periodically.|
|Ash was deposited up to 150 feet deep in the blast zone. the Toutle River carves a new canyon through the ash.|
|Look at those grins!|