It was a pilgrimage of sorts. A bucket-list trip, for my husband especially, to get close to two volcanoes in the South Cascade Mountains—Mount Rainer and Mount Saint Helens. He’s an avid amateur geologist; volcanoes really excite him. This is not the first trip we’ve taken centered around visiting volcanoes.
We stayed a week in a cabin on the southeast side of Mount Rainer, 2-1/2 hours from Seattle. The view from the cabin was of the mountain, 18 miles away. By drawing, my time there became a meditation on the mountain.
|white-capped Mount Rainer across the Cowlitz River|
|Mount Dickson almost lost in the rain and fog|
|Mount Rainer and long morning shadows|
One day we hiked along the Ohanapecosh River and picnicked by Silver Falls:
Mount Saint Helens—the other must see volcano on our itinerary—was 30 miles away on ill-kept Forest Service roads. We hiked the Norway Pass Trail, an 800 foot climb, to view the eastern side of the mountain—the side that had collapsed in the historic and devastating 1980 eruption. Thirty-six years later, the opening to the volcano is still a threatening, dark, open crater. The catastrophic June event started with an earthquake that caused a massive landslide avalanche into Spirit Lake, which violently forced all the water up the mountainside, knocking down all the trees. Azure-colored Spirit Lake is still rimmed with the dead white trunks of those trees.
|Mount Saint Helens and Spirit Lake from Norway Pass|
The volcano then erupted, sending ash and debris over a wide area, knocking over all the trees in the adjoining valleys and mountainsides to the northeast. To this day, over three decades later, these trees—now silvery white and matchstick straight—are laying on the ground pointing away from the crater. The forest has barely begun to regrow. Mount St. Helens, still an active volcano, has left an eerie, much altered landscape. I’d love to go back. I have many more drawings I'd like to do. I was pretty pooped from the trek and I knew the drive back to the cabin would be arduous, something not to attempt in darkness.