Life returns (1988-2001)
In July 2001 we visited Mount St. Helens for the second time and tried to locate as many places as possible where we had taken photos previously in 1988. Due to the rapid growth of vegetation this was sometimes more difficult than we had anticipated. Using triangulation techniques for a first, rough localisation and then the position of individual stones or logs to finally pinpoint the precise location of the camera.
Near Lahar viewpoint: Of all places visited, we found this the most impressive. A whole young forest has re-established itself, and soon Mount St. Helens no longer will be visible from this location. The big log is from a tree which got knocked over by the lahar. The same mudflow also caused the breach in the forest in the background.
Lahar viewpoint: Destruction in 1980 was not by the explosive blast (which went the other way towards the North), but by a lahar, mainly caused by the melting of Shoestring glacier, remnants of which are below the prominent notch in the crater rim. The sign has been removed - not stones on the ground: We are indeed in the exact same spot as in 1988!
Mount St. Helens from Independence Pass. Within the main blast area the changes, from a distance, seem unspectacular. However, note the greening of the slopes in the centre of the picture where young trees are growing by the thousands. Less change occurs above the natural tree line. Also the mountain is now too low to allow the growth of major glaciers.
On the path leading from the road to Spirit Lake. Are these pictures reversed? Indeed the right one is the later one! The tree trunks still standing on the right have fallen in the meantime because they were standing on highly unstable ground: Soil is steadily creeping downwards. Whereas living trees would have survived the tilting and moving, the dead ones finally fell, leaving only small stumps.
Near Spirit Lake's north-eastern shore. We are standing on a terrace several dozens of meters above the lake level. Despite the altitude difference a colossal wave from the lake caused by the eruptive blast, washed over this place removing all trees and almost all stumps. First major pioneer plants in 1988 were lupines. Meanwhile they got joined by a much richer vegetation, including many larches.
«Miner's car». This car is located near Meta Lake, some 15 kilometres from Mount St. Helens' crater. The family that owned it was visiting relatives near Meta Lake when the 1980 eruption occurred. None of them survived. Fences were installed to stop vandalism by souvenir hunters. Later the fence was removed again. Life returns in unexpected ways: In 2001 we observed chipmunks using the car as a hideaway.
Development of vegetation in front of Vadret da Morteratsch
A similar photo somaprison was done in the forefiled of the glacier Vadret da Morteratsch. You may find this material on Glaciers online.