Posts Tagged ‘Mount St. Helens’

Ten years ago I took this photo of Mount St. Helens from a ridge six miles away that was directly in the blast zone. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “If you are too focused on the end result, you may miss the rewarding journey that will ultimately get you there.” – Anil Kuma Sinhar

          Ten years ago, I was still living and traveling full time in my small RV with my canine companion Maggie. This was the year that I visited Mount St Helens.

Looking out at the gaping mouth of Mount St. Helens from a point six miles away once known as Coldwater Ridge triggered goose pimples on my arms. I knew that David Johnston, the first to report the volcano’s eruption, had been standing on this same ridge, a spot that stood directly in the volcano’s blast zone. The 30-year-old Johnston had been one of 57 people who lost their lives to the angry mountain.

As I noted the 40th anniversary of that tragic event as I drank my coffee and caught up on world news this morning, images of my visit to that once again sleeping volcano dug their way to the surface of my thoughts.

What I remembered, and confirmed by the photos that I had taken at the time, was that life was returning to the blast area. Grasses and trees were reestablishing themselves, and flowers were blooming.

And grasses and Indian Paintbrush were growing around a tree stump left by the blast.

Life changes but it goes on, as it has for millions of years. As it will after the coronavirus is conquered. Not all of us will make it. Whether the virus gets us, a truck runs over us in the middle of the street, a crazed madman shoots us at a MacDonald’s, or we simply run out of the days allotted to us, we’re not going to get out of this world alive.

Focusing on when that final day will be is not something I’m going to do. Instead, I’m going to simply treasure every minute I have left on this planet, and just keep going until my tomorrows run out.

I’m glad today for the memory of looking out on Mount St. Helens as it returned to life and the reminder that view offered me to savor every moment because tomorrow may not come. Everyone dies – but not everyone lives.

Bean Pat: To all those on the front row helping others survive the coronavirus.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Trails through Craters of the Moon National Monument take one through a dark, angry landscape. Photo by Pat Bean


Volcanoes are one way the earth gives birth to itself.” — Robert Gros


The huge lava field that spreads out across Southern Idaho’s Snake River Plain was thought to resemble the moon’s surface, hence when the area was designated a national monument in 1924 it was called Craters of the Moon.

While the name remains today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s two-hour walk on the moon’s surface 45 years later showed it was nothing like the moon’s surface. The name stuck, however, just as Junior remains Junior to his parents even when he’s 65 years old.

As I walked across the rugged blue-black lava flow on trails that took me into a world far removed from my daily existence, I couldn’t help but compare this adventure with my recent visit to Mount St. Helens.

Yet even in this harsh landscape, life manages to exist. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The lava that covers the landscape for miles at Craters of the Moon is between 2,000 and 15,000 years old. Yet the scars it has left on the land looked younger than those caused only 30 years ago when Mount St. Helens erupted. Mother Nature has gentled the scars created by the Washington volcano with new grass, wildflowers and trees. While life certainly exists at Craters, it’s a place where the land shouts of volcanic action.


Less than two hours away from Lake Walcott State Park, where I was a volunteer campground host, the monument’s strange landscape had called out to me to visit. I answered but found that the dark rugged landscape agitated me. Where viewing St. Helens had been a calming experience, Craters of the Moon, with its twisting, roiling turmoil of anger still visible, reminded me too much of the world we live in today.

A sobering thought pushed itself to the forefront of my brain, telling me that both these dormant volcanoes will probably flow and blow again. As beautiful and as calming as Mother Nature can be to me, I was forced to admit she does have her destructive moods. Sadly, so do we humans.

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