I will never forget the moment, while driving through the clouds on a mountain near Mt. St. Helens with my friend Jeff, we burst through above the clouds and saw the volcano in all of its glory straight ahead.
As the clouds cleared, the devastation of 1980 spread out in front of us in the valley below us while we stood on Johnston Ridge, named after the volcanologist killed during the eruption.
The valley floor is over two thousand below me in this picture, and it is breathtaking to know you’re looking so far down from your mountain perch.
Much of the mountains nearby were horribly scoured by the pyroclastic flow that crashed into the mountain at hundreds of miles an hour.
The mountain above has still barely recovered from the blast, and has a vertigo-inducing trail along it. The visitors’ center is well done, and of particular interest are the stories of the morons who ignored the order to evacuate and lived to tell about surviving a volcanic eruption of Plinian proportions.
Spirit Lake still possesses a large number of shattered tree trunks, deposited in the lake by the eruption. But life has begun to return to the mountains, as can be seen below in the form of beautiful wildflowers.
What does this have to do with St. Louis architecture? Not much, but it was such an amazing experience I had to share it.