Thirty-one years ago today | High Sierra Topix  

Thirty-one years ago today

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Thirty-one years ago today

Postby gcj » Wed May 18, 2011 9:07 pm

Haven't seen anything in the news about this anniversary today...

One sunday morning 31 years agos on May 18, 1980, I took my usual hiking trip through Henry Coe State Park near San Jose, CA. I was taking my usual weekly Blue Ridge Loop to stay in condition for my High Sierra climbing/backpacking trips. I reached the top of Middle Ridge and I heard a deep and strange thudding sound like distant explosions. It was definitely from the north and at the time I thought that a plane might have crashed at San Jose or Moffit. I looked at my watch to note the time- 9:30am. I didn't really think much about it again until I reached the top of Mt. Sizor where I took a lunch break. I knew that Mt Saint Helens was in an eruptive state and I mused on the thought that it had maybe blown it's top and created another Crater Lake-like formation. I knew that Krakatoa had been audible from thousands of miles away... it was a fun little fantasy.

That was the last I'd thought about it until I got home late that afternoon and was shocked to see on the news that Saint Helens had indeed blown it's top! I remembered the strange booming sound I'd heard. "What time? What time?", I yelled at the TV showing film of the carnage and destruction- rivers choked with trees and debris... Finally, the newscaster said that the explosion occured at around 8:35am. Damn, I thought. I remembered the time I'd noted- 9:30am. At 8:30, I was down in a deep ravine. The only sounds I heard were from birds. But... wait a minute... How far away is Mount Saint Helens and how long would it take for the sound to travel? I did some very rough measuring and calculations and found that it would take a bit less that an hour. Wow! Did I really hear the eruption of Saint Helens from about 620 miles away? I later learned that even people living in Portland and other parts of northern Oregon didn't hear it. But, sound can behave in weird ways through reflections in the atmosphere and so forth. To this day I still wonder about this. Did I hear it?



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Re: Thirty-one years ago today

Postby hikerchick395 » Thu May 19, 2011 9:26 am

Ash is still blowing off of the top.

Mount Saint Helens last July
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Re: Thirty-one years ago today

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu May 19, 2011 10:24 am

I was very lucky to climb Mt. St Helens in 1969 before it blew off its top. It was such a beautiful symetrical peak! I really was saddened to think that the beautiful summit was gone! I was living in Wyoming. My mother lived in Spokane and since I was a geologist, she decided to catch some of this historic ash for me. She hung out a huge sheet horizontally thinking that she would then be able to at least get a small jar of ash for me. The sheet filled and fell to the ground. They got so much ash in Spokane that they spent several months cleaning up the city streets. They had to go out in masks, wet down the ash and shovel it up for garbage truck pickup. I still have my small jar of ash.
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Re: Thirty-one years ago today

Postby Troutdog 59 » Thu May 19, 2011 10:40 am

I wasnt aware today was the anniversary of the eruption. Thanks for the 411!! Cant say if you heard it or not, but it works for me and is still pretty cool regardless!!!! I was just taking an interest in geology while attending Pierce Jr College in So Cal and was taking Geo 101 (Intro) course. Our text (still have it) had this nice symetrical pic of Mt. St. Helens under which the caption read "its dormant cascade volcano"!!!! Like WD, I too have a small vial (40 ml VOA) of ash sent from a friends aunt who lived in Spokane.
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

R. Trower
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Re: Thirty-one years ago today

Postby BrianF » Thu May 19, 2011 11:01 pm

I had the pleasure of climbing Mt St Helens in June 1979, just a blink (geologically speaking) before it blew. I too remember how beautiful and symetrical it was, and how beautiful spirit lake was. After visiting the site a year or two after the eruption and seeing the extent of the devastation and the force of the explosion, I wouldn't be surprised if you heard it. Sound does carry in strange ways
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Re: Thirty-one years ago today

Postby gcj » Fri May 20, 2011 4:56 am

Hi
Thanks for the responses. I've always been interested in this event and just wanted to see if anyone else had a similar experience. I guess I'll continue to wonder about this- it is fun to tell the story now and then. I envy those of you who actually climbed it. It must be sobering to think that much of what you were walking on is now scattered across much of the continent. ...and in our sample vials (I happened to have one, too!).
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Re: Thirty-one years ago today

Postby sparky » Fri May 20, 2011 6:28 am

Wow, I remember that happening....but I was only 3 years old!??!
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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