Friday, November 2, 2001

Hello from Kelso, Washington!

Start time: 0800

Start odometer: 22959

Weather: Start of day cloudy and fog, cloud breaks as day progressed, temperature 50 degrees F., ranged from 38 to 58.


Another great day of touring, with a visit to the impressive Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.  Spent much more time than planned (no surprise) in the east side of the park and the Windy Ridge area.  After a beautiful drive around the south side of the park, I decided to stop in Kelso to position myself for a visit to the west entrance of the park tomorrow.  Kelso, while originally involved in sustaining a mining industry, now serves as the lumbering and milling center for timber operations throughout the region (information from the phonebook.)


Highlights of the day included a hike to Layser Cave, last inhabited by natives over four thousand years ago.  This was followed by a drive to Windy Ridge Overlook, located to he east of Mount St. Helens.  I learned bit about the eruption of May 1980, and the incredible power exerted by nature on the landscape and some of the people here at that time.  At the overlook, I met Mark and Heather visiting from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Two more interesting people I have had the fortune to meet on this trip.  They were headed to Seattle today and should have a nice night before having to fly back home Saturday.  (By the way, in case you two were wondering if the fog ever cleared, I remained in the area for another 45 minutes.  While views to the north appeared, Mount St. Helens stayed elusive behind the fog!)


As I was traveling east from the overlook, I met three hunters preparing for elk season tomorrow.  Bud, Paul, and Rick are from a town southeast of the park and they had some interesting stories about the eruption and results of its force.  One final note, the roads today led through some spectacular scenery!

Click on picture for larger image, hit back button to return to this page.

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The town of Morton, Washington.

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Along the trail to Layser Cave, the yellows glowed alongside the other trees.

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Clouds and fog make for an interesting view.

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A tree with an interesting bark.

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Close-up of the tree.

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The entrance to Layser Cave.

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A picture of the end of the cave.

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Another view from the trail.

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The parking area for Layser Cave.

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Another gravel road!

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This is the road leading into the east side of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.  After some clearing of clouds from this angle, the scarred landscape can be seen.

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As the fog rolls in, the road shows as a silver ribbon into the clouds.

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My first look at Spirit Lake.

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Another view of the lake.  Objects in the water are tree trunks.

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A view of Mount St. Helens, eastern slope.

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Mark and Heather, as we waited to see if the fog would clear.

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There was a stairway with a couple of hundred steps up to a viewpoint that provided some great sights (and a bit of a good workout.)  This picture is looking down into Spirit Lake at an interesting trunk sticking out of the lake.

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Another look at Spirit Lake.  The peninsula in the upper right portion of the picture was covered and wiped clear of all vegetation by a wave generated by the landslide during the eruption.  Water traveled eight hundred feet up the slopes of some of the ridges.  Also, note all the trunks on the water!

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The viewing area after a short trail beyond the top of the stairs.

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It was interesting to see the new growth occurring in this landscape.

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From the viewing area, looking down at the parking lot.  My car is at the right.

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On my return trip, I stopped at a pullout and noticed this "slight" crack in the rock below the road!

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Another view of Spirit Lake.  Since this particular area is further from Mount St. Helens, the vegetation is quickly recovering.

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Looking at another barren landscape with remnants of trees.

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This helicopter had just lifted off the road to the left of the picture, then headed almost straight down into the canyon.

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Along another trail, I noticed this fallen tree with twisted trunk.

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Being further away from the eruption, the recovery is faster here.

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In May 1980, this car was parked on the other side of the road, and the owners were in a nearby cabin by a mine.  The blast pushed and rolled the car across the road to this position.  The owners in the cabin did not survive the blast.

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Looking at the rear of the car.

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I was amazed that this tire looked unscathed.

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One last look at the road through the wounded forest.

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South of the park, I found this pretty lake providing great reflections.

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This picture is actually upside-down!

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One last view of the lake.

Tomorrow I am returning to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, entering on the west side.  I will then head northwest towards Neah Bay.  Maybe I will finally get there tomorrow!  Thank you for visiting!


Routes traveled today: Wa 7 - US 12 - FS 23 - FS 25 - FS 99 - FS 25 - FS 90 - Wa 503 - US 5

Lodging: Motel 6 -

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Copyright 2001 Igor N. Nikishin

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