Day 3:    Holy Smokes !! Its Mount St. Helen !!!

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Dance on a Volcano,

by Genesis

Holy Mother of God, you've got to go faster than that to get to the top. Dirty old mountain all covered in smoke, she can turn you to stone, so you better start doing it right!, you better start doing it right!

You're halfway up and halfway down and the pack on your back is turning you around. Throw it away you won't need it up there, and remember you don't look back whatever you do, so you better start doing it right!, you better start doing it right!

On your left and on your right the lava is green, the lava is blue, and your friends didn't make it through. Out of the night and out of the dark into the fire into the fight, well that's the way the hero's go,  No, No No !!!      No, No No !!! 

Through a crack in Mother Earth, blazing hot the molten rock spills out over the land.  And lava's the lover that licks your boots away, Hey !!  Hey !!  Hey !!

You don't want to boil as well! B-b-b-better start the dance! D-d-do you want to dance as well ?

The music's playing, the notes are right. Put your left foot first, and move into the light. The edge of this hill is the edge of the world, and if you're gonna cross you better start doing it right!, you better start doing it right!

Reprinted with absolutely no permission.

Pickin' up a tacky straggler from SeaTac!

With these stirring verses from Phil and the boys, Mike, and Bone who had picked up Hadrian at Seattle-Tacoma Airport that morning decided to check out the biggest geologic blast on the North American Continent since the Jerry's Chicken Incident,,,  Mount St. Helens.

When you think of the Pacific Northwest you think of verdant forests with lush evergreens. In their initial touring of Oregon and Southern Washington that is exactly what the boys had seen. But as they approached the recently awakened volcano, signs of the devastation  were as apparent as the restroom at Jerry's Chicken, as evidenced below.

Mount St. Helens surprised the whole country when on at 8:32 Sunday Morning, May 18, 1980, it erupted. Shaken by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, the north face of this tall symmetrical mountain collapsed in a massive rock debris avalanche. In a few moments this slab of rock and ice slammed into Spirit Lake, crossed a ridge 1,300 feet high, and roared 14 miles down the Toutle River. The avalanche rapidly released pressurized gases within the volcano. A tremendous lateral explosion ripped through the avalanche and developed into a turbulent, stone-filled wind that swept over ridges and toppled trees.

Nearly 150 square miles of forest was blown over or left dead and standing. At the same time a mushroom-shaped column of ash rose thousands of feet skyward and drifted downwind, turning day into night as dark, gray ash fell over eastern Washington and beyond. Wet, cement-like slurries of rock and mud scoured all sides of the volcano. Searing flows of pumice poured from the crater. The eruption lasted 9 hours, but Mount St. Helens and the surrounding landscape were dramatically changed within moments. A vast, gray landscape lay where once the forested slopes of Mount St. Helens grew. In 1982 the President and Congress created the 110,000-acre National Volcanic Monument for research, recreation, and education. Inside the Monument, the environment is left to respond naturally to the disturbance.

The first view of not-so Spirit(ed) Lake!

When Mount St. Helen erupted, it literally "blew-up"! The Pyroclastic Flow (The type of eruption the Mount St. Helen experienced) of hot gases and rocked blew out the top and one side of the mountain reducing the total size of the mountain by 3,500 feet, similar to the effects to Bone's pants after the Jerry's Chicken incident. The speed and power of the eruption literally blew away trees and top soil, scrubbing the surrounding landscape down to bare rock. Huge trees can be seen that were killed and sterilized by the incredible heat of the blast, which are still lying around the barren landscape like match sticks. In the lower right side of the picture below of Spirit Lake, you can see over a billion board feet of sterile lumber still floating in the lake, blown in from the blast.

Fine for Climbing ($500 Bucks !!!)

The boys stopped at at the National  Park Center at Spirit Lake for a scheduled talk on the Eruption and its aftermath. Mike and Hadrian asked the Park Rangers if there were tours given on the mountain. They were told that there were helicopter tours of the crater, but the mountain was still to dangerous to climb and had been recently experiencing more seismic activity. When Bone pressed the issue, the Boys were warned that there was a $500 fine per person for being caught on the mountain.

Playing "Hide and Seek on the Mountain"

Now Mike was little reticent, but Bone stated that he and Hadrian could wait in the car, but he was going up. Remember, the Park Ranger stated that they would get a ticket only if they were caught on the mountain, therefore he had no intention on getting caught. So over a chain link fence with yellow caution signs and down into the pumice fields they went!

Walking on the Moon ?!?

The day they were at the National Park was a breezy, overcast day in the low 50's, perfect for long hikes and rock climbing. As they walked to the base of the Mountain Hadrian mentioned to Mike that landscape was very exotic or "just like the moon".

Well Prepared Mountaineers ???, Not !!!

When the boys sneaked off (literally!) they only took a couple of sweaters, they had no water, ropes, gloves, hiking shoes (tennis shoes only) or other usual gear for such a venture. So between the sneaking and lack of safety items, this truly was turning out to be a typical Mike and Bone adventure !!!!!

At the Base of the "Beast"

Having hiked through a pumice field for a better part of 45 minutes, it became painfully apparent that this little hike was about to become a major ordeal. Undeterred Mike, Bone, and Hadrian pressed on.

Determining a Route

How to tackle the Beast. The boys had two simple criteria:

1. How to climb up with minimal equipment (since they had none!) 

2. How to hide on the way up as to not get caught.

Hadrian suggested a route that went up a long sloping ridge along the blast-line.

Hadrian's Wall Route

The Crazy-Ass Climb Up !

The boys started up the mountain, they learned why pumice is used to make soap, it is extremely abrasive to one's clothes and hands.  Every time one of the boys slipped or slid, clothes and flesh ripped and shredded. Thus the boys painfully learned that real mountaineers are not wimps and weanies for wearing gloves and boots!

"Are we there yet  !?!"

3 hours later itseemed that the summit wasn't any closer, other than the fact that the air was thinning and they began to walk through clouds. Despite the growing despair they trudged on.

"D'oh" !!!

Homer Simpson

Half-way up they also realized that bringing supplies like snacks and water is another of those "wimpy" things that they could have used on the climb.

The Crater's In Sight !!

Through most of the climb up, Mike led the pack, followed by Hadrian, with Bone bringing up the rear. After 5 hours of climbing, they were all on the brink of despair when over a ridge Mike saw the cloudy crater!

A profile of the final Ridge to the top (Remember, No Gear!!)

After all this, there really ain't too much dancin' at the Top !!

The top of the crater as it turned out is really not a good place to boogie, it was very cloudy and windy. Also to add to the "excitement", it is at an extremely steep grade (about 35 degrees) without any stable rock to hold on to,  just crumbling pumice walls.

Bone at the Brink

Here is a picture of Bone near the summit being used as contrast for the 8,000 foot view of the plateau below.

The "dispossessed" Spirit Lake

This is the best shot from the summit that shows how the super-heated mud flowed out of the torn-out side of the mountain and pushed Spirit Lake out of its original banks, and into a new formation.

Don't give me that Line !!!

At the summit Hadrian, Mike and Bone could not see the end of the blast zone, it went on for miles and miles. They were able to see the focus of the blast, since the north end of the mountain blew out, it went for hundreds of mile in a very focus pattern. It was fascinating to observe that within a quarter mile, that there could be both scorched earth and verdant woodlands.

What goes up must come down

In addition to being precariously perched on a wall, it was windy and very cold. So in addition to their hands and clothes being ripped up and bleeding the boys were getting hungry and cold. So after a few minutes near the crater the boys started their trek back.

Playing "Hide and Seek on the mountain", Part Two

The trip up took 5 hours, however trip down only took 3, and was much easier except the two times the boys heard helicopters and scrambled to hide in the rocks to avoid be seen on the mountain !!  The trip down was faster but also a little more painful, between the fatigue and the darkening mist the boys lost their footing a lot more and experienced a lot more "pumice burns"

Hearing about the "Goofs" on the Mountain

Once down they face a very deserted National Park. Pulling out of the parking lot and back on the main road the boys chance immediately  upon a Gift Shop with a concession stand. The Concession Stand had what looked like really good barbequed ribs (actually they were so hungry everything looks good!) that would have made fine shoe leather they were so tough. Buying all the remaining ribs Mike, Bone, and Hadrian, voraciously gnawed and the bone and "eaves dropped" on two National Park Rangers who were talking about the reports from the helicopter tour pilots about a few idiots climbing on the mountain\ !!! The boys smiled inwardly and politely left as soon as possible.

Making a Homa in Tacoma

After the very bad chow, the boys replenished the "Hall of Shame" with some Olympia Gold's and heading north on I-5 to Tacoma. With plans the next day for Mt. Rainer and Seattle the boys grabbed a cheap motel and made it an uneventful night.