Earlier this month I did an 8-mile round-trip hike from the Johnston Ridge visitor center to Harrys Ridge near Mt St Helens. It was a cloudless day and the volcano had blown away all the trees back in 1980. Numbskull that I was, I didn’t use sunblock and got severely sunburned. But I’ll share the rewards that I literally paid for with my own skin (it fell off my face and arms over the next couple weeks).
I would not take my kids on this trail. One slip and you’d be sliding down the steep slope over pumice and lava rock. Good luck stopping your slide. Then there is a short cliff you fall off, followed by another lava rock slide, and a second cliff drop. That’s how a beautiful landscape can chew you up and spit you out if you’re not paying attention.
A polarizing filter is a must for this type of shot. It cuts the light reflecting off dust and haze in air and makes the photo clearer and more colorful. This is the view from the Johnston Ridge observation platform.
This is the remains of a tree which got blasted flat by the eruption 35 years ago. Even with the pieces of the mountain lying around in massive piles and entire forests annihilated, it’s hard to comprehend the destructive power of the side of that mountain blowing out!
Once up on Harrys Ridge, there are breathtaking views from every angle. This shot is looking over the shoulder of Mt St Helens to Mt Hood across the Columbia River in Oregon State. I shot it with a 200mm lens and then cropped it quite a bit in post processing. By the way, Harrys Ridge is named after a man who lived on Spirit Lake and refused to leave his home. He lost his life when the mountain exploded.
I like this composition because it has so much depth to it. Stump, lake, hillside, more lake, mountains, snowy peak, sky… it just keeps going. If you’re wondering, that’s a giant log jam in the lake. It’s been floating there since 1980.
Hope you enjoyed these photos of a fascinating National Monument. When somebody says “volcano” people usually think of tropical islands, but we have them in the continental U.S. also.