postcards from the blast zone are now ten percent off

Pre-eruption, this was one of the more sublime forest vantages one could hope to find anywhere in the Cascades south of Mount Rainier, not only for the green curtain of subalpine perfection the Pacific Northwest is known for but also that mind-bogglingly symmetrical stratovolcano (the Fujiyama of America) soaring to the sky before a sprawling, wind-dappled mountain lake. If it weren’t for copyrights, I’d share a scanned photograph of this exact view from one of my dusty, old books on the Cascades.

September 2010 - Helens (12)

To more fully get the drift of Tah-one-lat-clah before the 1980 eruption, all one has to do is: 1. Plop more than a thousand feet of volcanic rock back on the mountaintop (don’t forget to pack it real tight inside of the crater or the whole thing is gonna slide back out, surely you must know this from your sandcastle-building days?);  2. Aim twenty-five Acme snowmaking machines 360 degrees around the mountain and pull the levers back to the Full-Blast Blizzard setting for several weeks because doggone, it takes a lot of snowflakes to make even one glacier; 3. Finally, plant several hundred thousand trees hereabouts where I stood for this frame. They don’t have to be super-big because far as I’ve been able to determine this particular area was primarily second growth woods being that Weyerhaeuser, other private logging enterprises and the State of Washington (pencils for schools, at least) had already helped themselves to the ancients. Voila! There you go! Can you picture it? If not, this panorama must suffice for now. Come back in a couple centuries so you really get my meaning.

2 thoughts on “postcards from the blast zone are now ten percent off

  1. It’s still a wonderful vista, with those shrubs really flaming in foreground, some accent trees, and a blue lake. Really it’ll take a couple of centuries for the woods to be restored? You’re discussing sand castle engineering, which I always loved the heck out of, and I’m thinking about that Hugh Grant movie “The Englishman who went up a hill…” one of the longest titles ever, I bet. Good math problem for the kids, if every visitor brought 1 cu. ft of dirt in their knapsack, how many visitors would it take.
    There was also some articles a couple years ago, about someone rigging up hoses, to make ice stupas in the Himalayas, to serve a miniature glaciers/irrigation in the dry mountain valleys over there. The Tourist Board or whatever in Washington might borrow some gear from the ski resorts and give it a go.
    I was looking at the map, hadn’t realized you were closer to Portland than Seattle, and noticed this is Skamania County (as in The Specials, Madness, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones!? That’s great)

    • Not a couple centuries for the trees but by then the volcano might have built itself back up to its former stately proportions, the dome inside the crater has been growing all this time although I think there’ve been a handful of significant knockdowns (including some eruptive activity in the mid aughts). I was a little more obtuse than I realized, there. Sorry about that. Isn’t Skamania great? Yes, Mount St. Helens is a little ways down there. It’s a far more pleasant jaunt for Portlanders, I’m pretty sure St. Helens is even part of their skyline but I’m not positive. There’s some uniquely exasperating sprawl (in that it’s like Groundhog Day where I can never tell how much further out of everything there is to go) between Tacoma and Olympia that various times over the years has served as a major deterrent for me heading downstate.

      Hope you got to relieve some of that cabin fever, this weekend.

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