After a real Sunday breakfast with lots of Belgium waffles, we leave Portland area towards north.
As the weather is overcast we skip the trip to the waterfall and the gorge along the Columbia River and head directly towards Mount St. Helens up in Washington. We see the mountain soon after we leave the HWY, but it is hidden by a big cloud. As we drive Scenic Route 504 closer towards the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument the clouds dissolve more and more and eventually we see Mount St. Helens without any clouds standing in front of us. It’s very impressive, since the eruption in May 1980 the area has gone through a remarkable recovery. Since 1984 Mount St. Helens is a National Monument and remains untouched by humans; i.e. no reforesting, no hunting and only limited access for the public. Realizing and seeing what has happened here not even 30 years ago is amazing. We speak with an elderly (70 year old) volunteer who explains us that they do a lot of geological and seismic research on the mountain. Apparently all the mountains in the north west of the US are connected through one big magma pool some 20 miles under the surface of the earth. Scientists are most worried about Mt. Rainier, since it is very close to Seattle and could erupt as well at any point in time. Mt. St. Helens is still active, not on the outside but within, it has a lava dome in the crater which has been growing over the last years and in 2004 it was rumbling again.
The part that has been reforested in the years before 1984 is very green again and we see again some beautiful swallowtails and other butterflies, deers, a lot of blooming flowers and some little fish, salamander and tadpoles. The lakes are very clear and clean and it is very quiet and peaceful.
In the afternoon we drive through countryside villages and small cities to Auburn, just south of Seattle.
Overnight Stay: Travelodge, Auburn, WA
Dinner: The Mexican
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