Mount St Helens Volcano and memorial as seen from Johnston Ridge
I spent a day at the Mount St Helens Volcano National Monument this past week to catch up on the latest activities at the Johnston Ridge Observatory located 5 miles from the volcano crater. A new outdoor amphitheater is under construction, and it’s a race against time as to whether or not it will be completed before the observatory closes down for the winter. It will greatly assist in accomodating the crowds of people that gather for presentation talks about the volcano.
What I came to see at the JRO (Johnston Ridge Observatory) was the new 17 minute movie in the renovated auditorium entitled “Mount St Helens: Eruption of Life.” I was literally blown away by this film! It is everything that one would expect from today’s cinematography standards with its high-definition filming and surround sound. Original historic film is combined with state-of-the-art digital cinematography that results in a small masterpiece that tells the volcano’s story from eruption to rebirth of plant and animal life in the post-eruption blast zone. The minutes showing the pyroclastic flow rushing through the forests and lakes destroying everything in its path kept me spellbound. Viewers grew silent as they watched with awe and emotion the drama that unfolded before them on the wide screen. And then, as soon as the film finished, the black curtains that were in lowered position from beginning to end of the film lifted to reveal a panoramic view of the volcano with its gaping crater through large, paneled windows directly in frontal view. The audience gasped. What a finale!
Mt St Helens (center), Toutle River Valley (left), Castle Lake (right)
Another volcanic peak, Mt Adams, seen barely rising above the wasteland
Coldwater Lake was formed from the 1980 eruption
Native ground squirrels make their homes among the fallen trees and ash