Return Of The Forest

It has been over 30 years since Mount St. Helens blew its top: Thirteen hundred feet of the mountaintop collapsed into the Toutle River Valley. The explosion claimed 57 lives and devastated almost 150,000 acres of forests. I’ve wanted to visit Mount St. Helens for many years. Finally on Saturday, we took a road trip to see it. While it was a beautiful drive… I was surprised by the lack of trees and vegetation in areas closer to the volcano. Most of the new forests were planted — more than 18 million seedlings were planted by hand. And in some areas of the blast zone, you can still see a lot of trees lay where it fell from the blast.

The area was a photographer’s paradise. However, it was a challenge for me to get good shots. I wanted to capture the vastness of the devastated areas but since my widest angle lens is 18mm, it was difficult to get the feel. I decided to shoot panoramic so that you can get a better sense of the area. The panoramic image below was created using three images. Click on it to see a larger size with better details of the volcano.

For those who enjoys hiking, you can hike up to the top of the volcano. It’s about 18 miles round trip. I thought it would be awesome to get images of the inside of the volcano, but I probably need to get in better shape before I attempt the climb.

Here is a panoramic image of the valley.  Click on it to see larger image.

21 Comments on “Return Of The Forest

  1. Really great job Em, Can’t even tell it’s a pano. I have yet to go there but, it’s on my “to do this summer” list. 😀

  2. I’ve been checking these out and not having a chance to comment for a while now. These are simply beautiful shots. It looks like it was a great day for shooting and the top two are really lovely. I’m glad you had a chance to get out and had fun shooting!

    • Nice to see you Jonathon. It was one of those rare sunny days we get around here. Hopefully, this weekend will be decent enough for another road trip. Not sure where but guess I’ll let my spirit take me to where ever… 🙂

  3. It looks like an amazing place. Like everyone else, I’m surprised that the effects of the eruption have lasted this long – I guess the natural disasters I’m used to are bushfires, which devastate the land but refresh it at the same time.

    • I think with bushfires, the amount of ash left behind makes perfect fertilizer for the plants. Unfortunately, the amount of ash from the volcano eruption was too thick for the plant roots to reach soil. When the tree company planted their seedlings, they had to hand dig each hole through the ash in order to plant them in the soil.

      Nice to see you back posting again! As always, your photos are amazing. 🙂

  4. Nice shot of Mount St. Helens. Surely we folks in the mid-west are missing the mountains and oceans that you get to enjoy. But we get to see/enjoy them via your lovely shots.

  5. These are all beautiful photos of the landscape. It’s hard to believe that I was there about 15 years ago and I was amazed at the devastation and the look of the standing trees that were bare. I have these photos on film. Nothing can compare to actually being there and experiencing it, like you have. Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to see a return of the forest.

    • I totally agree. Mount St. Helens is definitely one of those places that it’s best to experience it in person. It’s an amazing sight.

      Other than the man-made forest I was surprised that the landscape still look so bare after 30 years. Although, from what I’ve read, it sounds like the volcanic ash made growing difficult and slow. Unlike the tree company, nature doesn’t use genectically enhanced seedlings for regrowth.

  6. My goodness, how very scarred the area around the volcano still looks.
    In that valley? Is all that gray, volcanic debris?…where that stream is flowing through? or is that just the way a wash looks in this area, Emily.
    Beautiful pictures and I enjoyed enlarging them and viewing different areas in them.

    • I know… I was surprised the area around the volcano still look so bare. The valley you see was the path of mudflows filled with debris, blasted trees, rocks, from the volcanic eruption. The gray water in the stream comes from the melting snow covering the volcano. The area is still full of volcanic rock fragments and ash. And that’s why so little vegetation and trees are able to grow there. I think it will be way after our life time before the area will look lush and green again.

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