Mount St. Helen's National Volcanic Monument, Washington:  30 June 2006

    This was not on my Plan.  I only meant to detour just enough to grab a photo from a distance, but the more I saw,

the more I was compelled onward.  It wasn't "scenic beauty," but it was powerfully impressive.  [26 photos]

Mount St. Helen's, viewed from about 10 miles to the north.

Historical sign, describing the morning of the eruption

A more readable view

The lay of the land

The official entrance to the National Monument.

Old skeletons and new-growth forest. It has taken the ground a long time to heal here.

A view to the east

Explanation of the Blast Zone

Tree graveyard

For miles, whitish-gray trunks of shattered trees litter the hillsides, all facing the same way -- away from the blast

Mount Rainier in the distance to the northeast

As the road brings you closer to the volcano, the number of dead trees increases

Volcanic rock, formed 1000's of years ago

Spirit Lake, about 7 miles from MSH, was a thriving vacation and camping area...

Now, more than a quarter century after the eruption, it remains choked with thousands of dead trees

What looks like a wide and light sandy beach.... a vast logjam

Another hillside, even closer to MSH. The blast knocked all these trees down in seconds.

Spirit Lake

The east slope of Mount St. Helen's. Note the steam rising from a vent in the caldera.

The volcano from 7 miles away. MSH lost 1413 feet of elevation that fateful day.

Wildflowers and a long range view to the northeast

The caldera still breathes

No vegetation has returned to the lava and dust encrusted mountainside

No one is allowed within 5 miles of the mountain.

A mechanical victim, melted and crushed. It's unknown what became of the car's owner.