Montana/PNW trip, National Parks and Monuments, Washington, Wildflowers

Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

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On Thursday, May 19, we decided to drive in the rain to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. When we stopped at the state-run visitor’s center near the edge of the park, they showed us the view we could expect at the observatory, which was solid white. We decided to go anyway, and I’m glad that we did. The ride was beautiful and by the time we got to the top it was snowing.

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In the observatory center, we talked to a ranger, looked at exhibits telling the stories of people who did and didn’t survive the blast, and watched a film about how the biodiversity in the blast plain increased because of the introduction of sunlight. Some burrowing creatures and those on the sides of the mountains away from the blast survived. Many new species moved in.

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When the film screen came up after the first film, it showed a wall of white cloud behind the large windows. We decided to watch the second film, which was focused on geology. This time, when the screen lifted, the clouds had cleared up just enough for us to see the plain in front of the blast, not the mountain. Everyone hustled outside and we took a few photos before it faded back into white.

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On the way back we stopped at Patty’s Place to have some delicious cobbler. When a man at the table next to us asked for Texas Pete for his elk burger, Sandy asked them where they were from. Lexington, NC, right down the road from Greensboro. Patty’s Place had a big wrap-around porch and I’ve never seen so many hummingbirds in one place in my life. I’m sorry that I didn’t have an elk burger. Sounded good.

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Then we headed to Astoria, Oregon, driving along the Columbia River on the west side of I-5. I could see living in that area if it wasn’t for earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides and volcanoes. Those make me a bit nervous.

Glacier National Park, Montana, Montana/PNW trip, National Parks and Monuments, Wildflowers

Glacier National Park, May 17, 2016, Part II

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Next we headed north to the east side of Going-to-the-Sun Road at St. Mary’s Lake. I wanted to do a bit more hiking but we had no water left in our bottles and every store in the little town there was closed. We drove up as far as we could to the point where you could see Jackson Glacier. It looked like a snowfield in the distance, which was a bit disappointing after some of the dramatic glaciers we saw in Alaska. I took photos of wildflowers everywhere that I could.

Near the bottom of the road a grizzly bear ran in front of the car ahead of us out of a meadow into a little stand of trees. I only got a glimpse because I was fumbling with my camera. Lesson learned – I mostly missed seeing the bear AND I didn’t get the shot. But still! A grizzly bear!

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^^^There it is. “Jackson Glacier is approximately the seventh largest of the remaining 25 glaciers in Glacier National Park…In 1850, there were an estimated 150 glaciers in the park. Glaciologists have stated that by the year 2030, many if not all of the glaciers in the park may disappear completely.”

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^^^This was a lovely little stream with several waterfalls and a good trail. Those are colorful rocks, not leaves.

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^^^The sedimentary layers in the Lewis Overthrust were fascinating.

In front of the East Glacier Depot

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^^^We returned the car, hung out at the historic depot, and got on the train with no problem. Taking clear photos from the train was not easy, so I don’t have many. I smuggled a few Montana beers with us which I ended up lugging around for most of the trip! We had dinner on the train and I got off for a few minutes at Whitefish, but after that we slept through the rest of Montana, Idaho, and the edge of eastern Washington.