Mount St Helens

View of the Toutle River bed and mudflow (Mount St Helens is behind the clouds).

Sep 3 – We had a relaxing, late morning (after the the early train): cozy inside, shadowed by the surrounding trees, listening to a light rainfall and feeling confident, so far, that the RV doesn’t have any leaks.   It was nice to experience rain – a little bit – for the first time on our trip, and also to not feel the urgency of having to get a start on the day before it got too hot.  That would not be an issue.  The WA State Park Mount St Helen’s visitor’s center was the first stop, jus a few miles away from our RV park in Castle Rock.  It was pretty crowded, but the movie and exhibits were interesting, and the kids earned a Junior Geologist badge.

The drive to the National Monument and Johnston Ridge Observatory is a long one – 52 miles each way from Castle Rock on winding highway 504.  There was cloud cover and intermittent rain most of the drive, but also glimpses of the Toutle River, mud flow, downed trees, and new forest, that gave a strong sense of place.  When we arrived at the observatory,  Mount St Helens was completely covered by clouds, but the view of the valley was open, and breathtaking.  By the time we finished with the exhibits and the Junior Rangers activity books, there was a wall of fog covering the entire valley. Still,  it was powerful to be right there, and for the kids to see the shattered trees and the new flowers that they learned about inside.  We’re still hoping for a glimpse of the mountain and crater before we leave the area.

At the Johnston Ridge Observatory
View of the lava fields at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, before the clouds completely closed in.
Another view of the Toutle River, further downstream in Kid Valley.


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