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May 6, 2010 / Greg Vaughn

Mount Saint Helens Eruption 30th Anniversary

Mount Saint Helens, Washington

Mount Saint Helens from Johnston Ridge.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens. On May 18, 1980 the volcano literally blew its top, spewing ash into the sky and causing a massive avalanche of debris that took 57 human lives and caused millions of dollars of damages. The blast from the eruption leveled thousands of acres of the surrounding forest, and wiped out who knows how many deer, elk, bear and other wildlife.

The critters have come back and wildflowers now emerge each Summer from the pumice and volcanic ash at the edge of the blast zone, but plenty of evidence still exists of the devastation that occurred here thirty years ago. Several visitor centers provide interpretive displays and panoramic vistas of Mount Saint Helens and its still-steaming crater.

Some of the best views are from trails near the Johnston Ridge Observatory and Visitor Center. The photo above was taken a little after sunrise from the Boundary Trail just east of the visitor center. Wildflowers dot the slopes leading down to the Pumice Plain, the barren area at the base of the volcano.

Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument will be commemorating the anniversary of the eruption with special events and displays starting May 14th. There’s a good round-up of events listed on Terry Richard’s blog, and lots more info available from the Cowlitz County Tourism Bureau.

For more views click on this link to my Mount Saint Helens photo gallery.

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