Monday, June 25, 2012

Volcano Caching

My oldest daughter has a strong fascination with and deep interest in volcanoes.  In fact, when she was finally old enough to have her own Geocaching name instead of what I used to call her (Geo-Baby) she chose the name LavaRocks - though we haven't been diligent in logging all of her finds online.  Needless to say, she has always expressed interest in visiting an active volcano.  Ideally, she'd like to see an actively erupting volcano in Hawaii, but this time she'd have to settle for somewhat quieter active volcanoes in Washington - Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. 

Before our recent cruise, we spent a few extra days in and around Seattle, WA.  On one of those days, we made a road trip south towards Portland, Oregon and spent the day visiting Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens.  There were two Earth Caches that I really wanted to find while visiting:

      Narada Falls at Mount Rainier
      Mount St. Helen's Earthcache at Mount St. Helens

At a summit elevation of 14,411 ft, the clouds were so thick around Mount Rainier that we couldn't even see the top of the mountain.  Apparently the peak is only seen approximately 100 days each year.  Regardless, we had a great time exploring Mount Rainier National Park, learning about the volcano, viewing the glacial waterfalls, playing in the snow high up the mountain, and hiking on just a few of the many trails.  The forest, rivers, and numerous waterfalls around Mount Rainier make it one of the most beautiful natural places I've ever been.  It is a surreal experience watching your children play on the slopes of what is considered to be one of the most dangerous stratovolcanoes in the world! 

Further south, Mount St. Helens is a totally different experience.  Although most of the area surrounding the mountain has recovered well in the last 30 years, the area directly across from the 1980 blast is still very much a barren wasteland. Huge trees are still seen lodged horizontally in the mountainside from when they were blasted across the valley from the eruption, and the entire area is covered in a fine, gray, ash powder (as is easily seen in the aerial Google Maps photograph).  The area directly across from the eruption is now home to the Johnston Ridge Observatory which was named in honor of U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist David A. Johnston who was on duty at the USGS, Coldwater II observation post during the May 18, 1980, eruption.  This is where we spent most of our time during our visit to Mount St. Helens touring the exhibit and watching the seismometers record real-time seismic activity from this active volcano.

UPDATE: My thoughts and prayers go out to the four injured climbers from my town recently injured in a tragic accident last week on Mount Rainier and to the family of the park ranger who died while rescuing them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

U guys should visit Lassen National Park in cali

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