Magazine article Sunset

St. Helens 8 Years Later, Asleep and Approachable

Magazine article Sunset

St. Helens 8 Years Later, Asleep and Approachable

Article excerpt

St. Helens 8 years later, asleep and approachable An outing to Spirit Lake, at the heart of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, not far from Interstate 5 in Washington, seems about as difficult and dangerous as a trip to the zoo. A brand-new 1-mile hiking trail leads down to the lake, where blue-green waves lap at a pumice beach scattered with driftwood. Beyond it, the gray volcano rises, its crater yawning benignly. Eight years ago, it was a different scene. The earthquake-triggered avalanche that ripped down the volcano on May 18, 1980, and the subsequent volcanic eruption left the lake doubled in size and mired with mud and timber, the surrounding forest flattened and blanketed in a thick layer of mud and ash. Today, the lake appears to have regained most of its clarity; there's even talk of restocking it with trout. And only at a distance do the hills in the blast zone now look barren; up close you can see fireweed, alder, even young Douglas fir emerging through the ash between downed logs. …

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