|May 18,1980-The day Mt. St. Helen's erupted with explosive force. The eruption was nature's plan but caught the scientific community off guard. Volcanic eruptions have happened since the planet was formed. We do live upon a molten ball of liquid magma and the relief of stress is very necessary to maintain a balance in the earth's crust. It was unfortunate that 57 people lost their lives in this immense force of nature. After seeing the site it was amazing so few people were involved. The whole north side of the mountain let loose with sudden explosive force and leveled everything in its path for many miles. All the trees were blown over and scattered like toothpicks and the stumps were blasted with rocks and debris traveling over 300 MPH. The surrounding hills were left bare. Looking at it today leaves one with a most eerie feeling. The second phase of the eruption was that the snow was melted and the resulting water carried the mass of mud and rocks down into the valley and road burying the existing river and wiping out the road and bridges for miles and miles. Ash rained down for hundreds of miles like snow.Today Mt. St. Helens is a National Monument dedicated to the study of how nature recovers and repopulates the landscape once again. We kayaked Coldwater Lake which lies about 5 miles from the mountain. It was such a picturesque scene. The lake is an adventure in solitude. It was so quiet- Only the sound of birds,wind and the splash of water against our kayaks broke the silence. The powerful aroma of the numerous wildflowers which filled the hillside permeated the air with a seductive sweetness. All was perfect with the world. We traveled some 8 miles and had a fabulous time. A bald eagle was spotted flying within a few hundred feet of us.The hillsides are slowly being repopulated with new forests of deciduous trees. These trees will eventually succumb to forests of mountain pine-all part of nature's progression. On the eastern hillside some pines remained which had survived the volcanic blast because they were protected by the hillside in that area. It was a most fascinating landscape. We saw numerous waterfalls which fed the lake. The stumps and trunks of the trees blown down by the eruption lined the hills and shore. The water in Coldwater Lake was crystal clear. After our voyage we drove to the main visitor center where we watched an excellent film of the cataclysmic eruption. It could occur again at any time. The drive to the area was about 100 miles and took two hours each way. It was so worth the effort. Don't miss your chance to see this special place. We returned home exhausted to have a great dinner at Stanford's Restaurant.