On my vacation a couple of weeks ago we decided to take a drive up to Mt. Saint Helens. I’d never been there before and have always wanted to check it out. The eruption of St. Helens in 1980 had quite an impact on me as a child (as it did for anyone who lived in the Pacific Northwest at the time) and I’ve always felt drawn to it for this reason.
It was a lot closer than I thought. It took us less than two hours to drive there. Closer than the beach! We visited Forest Learning Center first and wandered around, checked out the exhibits. One thing that I learned while there was that, due to the way the sound waves bounced when it exploded, the people in Portland didn’t hear the explosion. Yet those hundreds of miles, or more, away heard it! Fascinating. I talked to my mom about this and she told me that she heard it in Spokane. She was outside gardening and heard the explosion but thought something at Hanford exploded. Apparently it was very loud. A few hours later the ash from the mountain would darken the sky and we would be covered by it.
Later we decided to check out Coldwater Lake (photo above). Then we hiked for a bit on South Coldwater Trail.
I was completely in awe the entire time I was there.
I’ve mentioned this before on this blog (here and here. And maybe even here. And here. ), but I’m very sensitive to the vibe, or energy of a place. If that makes sense. Hopefully it does because I don’t know how else to describe it. For example, I love Mt. Hood. Very much. I’ve always been drawn to it, even as a child. When I’m up there I feel very alive and full of energy. Mt. Saint Helens, on the other hand, didn’t leave me at all with that happy, alive feeling. Kind of for obvious reasons, really. When you look around you can see with our own eyes the destructive power of it. And what you see really gives you pause. This mountain, twenty years ago, killed a lot of life. And that destructive energy remains. So my feeling there was this feeling of utter and complete respect, but not warm, fuzzy, happy respect. Respect because she could totally kick my ass if she wanted to. Raf likened St. Helens to the Hindu goddess Kali, “She who destroys.” Yes. Nail hit on head.
However, with destruction comes new life, too. Life is taken away and life is given in return. It’s the way it is. When we hiked through these birch trees I thought of Doug, the time we went huckleberry picking several years ago in a remote part of the Colville National Forest. Below the ridge we were on was a grove of birch trees. Doug’s mind was a font of random factoids and I remember him telling me, “There was a fire down there. You know how I know? Because birch trees are the first to grow after a fire.” So walking through this grove made me think of him, which was nice. And it made me think of how things tend to work out, somehow, when horrible events take place. Which was also a nice, hopeful, thought.