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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mt. Ranier and Mt. St. Helens

Yesterday (Saturday) we headed out to explore Mt. Ranier National Park with a packed picnic lunch and high anticipation of seeing new and awesome sights!  The south entrance to Mt Ranier Park is about 35 miles NW of our RV park in Randle and was a scenic drive. The park itself is huge, covering an area of 370 square miles. The peak of Mt Ranier is 14,410 ft and is so tall that about half the time, the peak cannot be seen as it is often above cloud level. We were fortunate in that the day we went the weather was very clear. The mountain is an active volcano and is subject to an unlikely, but possible eruption similar to the one at Mt St. Helens in 1980. If there were an eruption, the potential damages could be catastrophic with large areas of destruction and devastation. Scientists believe there would be ample warning before an eruption for evacuation. There are 25 major glaciers on Mt. Ranier as well as  numerous ice patches and snowfields that are visible any time of the year. We traveled to the Henry Jackson Visitor Center in the area known as Paradise on the south side of the park. There are no roads that access any part of the park above 6400 feet. The elevation at Paradise is 5400 ft, so you can see the mountain itself is over 8000 ft above the highest road.

Today (Sunday) we left with another packed picnic lunch and headed south with great anticipation of exploring the Mt. St. Helens area. Mt St. Helens is a National Forest which is very different from a National Park. The roads leading into and throughout the area were pretty bad and in much need of repair. The trip from our park at Randle to the closest observation point at Windy Ridge was about 40 miles but took well over an hour due to the road conditions and some type of bicycle race being held there this weekend. The first half of our trip was through beautiful lush forests of majestic western cedars and firs, but as we progressed, the damage to the forests became more visible, particularly at the higher elevations. The eruption at Mt. St. Helens was May 18, 1980 and blew away over 1300 feet of the top of the mountain. It was the most destructive volcano eruption in US history and left the top of the mountain with a one mile wide horseshoe shaped crater.  The surrounding area around Mt St Helens is covered in many dead trees that are partially standing or on the ground. The ones still standing are leaning away from the eruption area due to the force of the blast. The nearby Spirit lake at the foot of the mountain is still partially covered in dead trees, some 34 years later.   

Tomorrow (Monday) is another travel day with our destination being Oregon!  We are going to the Tillamook/Bay City RV Park on the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 101) for 3 to 4 days. The drive tomorrow will be about 200 miles and should not be too stressful as we are going around Portland. This will be our first view of the Pacific Ocean and can't wait to get our feet wet in the Pacific!

Entrance to Mt. Ranier National Park

Our first look at Mt. Ranier

Same shot but with camera at full zoom.

Roadway below us.

The pictures don't relate how huge and domineering the mountain is.

The Visitor's Center.

Steps leading to a trail at the Visitor's Center.

You know me, can't pass up a flag shot!

We came across this large female elk eating apples in someone's front yard in the town of Packwood.

She's right pretty, don't you think!

                                  The next set of pictures is from the trip to Mt. St. Helens
Our first sighting of downed trees from the Volcano blast.

Skeletal remains of once mighty fir trees

Some of the 300 bike riders we encountered today. Very friendly bunch. I don't know how they can pedal up those mountains!

The mountain to the left of the sign is what's left of Mt St Helens

Spirit Lake. The upper part of the lake is covered with dead trees.

Another viewpoint of the volcano.

Rest and picnic area near Windy Ridge. If you picture a vertical line above the middle table, that is where the left side of the mountain was. If you picture a vertical line from the white line right of the rightmost table, that is where the right side of the mountain was. If you cross the imaginary vertical lines, that would be where the peak of the mountain used to be. 

The center picture is how the mountain looked before the eruption
Steps to an observation point at Windy Ridge. No one in our group was game to hike up them!

Spotted this sharp Vette in the parking lot pulling a matching home made camper.

We had our picnic at the base of an active volcano. How cool is that!

We purchased some fresh corn from the RV Park and had to shuck it for dinner tonight. Man it was good! We've eaten like kings on this trip!

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