Yesterday we drove to the Forest Learning Center. We’ve been there in the past but not for many years. The growth around the mountain is astonishing! Our first visit to the mountain post eruption was when Jenn was perhaps 5. The mountain blew in May of 1980 and Jenn was born in January of 1981 so you get the basic time frame. We did not have any intention of actually visit[ng the mountain that day. We were camping at Iron Creek near Randle, WA and went out to take a ride. We drove up a forest service road admiring the beauty of the forest. We went around a bend and suddenly before us was devastation! Downed trees like matchsticks lying on the ground as far as the eye could see and now we could see the blown face of the mountain. I was driving and had to pull over to the shoulder as I sobbed for the loss of the forest, the animals and the people who had died. I was also filled with wonder as I saw the fireweed and other early risers coming up through the ash. The signs of hope and renewal were all there before me.
We plan to repeat that drive next week. We know from seeing other areas that the devastation we saw will not be there but we don’t know exactly what to expect. Over 18 million trees were planted in the first seven years of so after the eruption and, of course, nature has had her way too!