At 8:32 Sunday Morning, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens Erupted Shaken by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, the north face of this tall symmetrical mountain collapsed in a massive rock debris avalanche. In a few moments this slab of rock and ice slammed into Spirit Lake, crossed a ridge 1,300 feet high, and roared 14 miles down the Toutle River. The avalanche rapidly released pressurized gases within the volcano. A tremendous lateral explosion ripped through the avalanche and developed into a turbulent, stone-filled wind that swept over ridges and toppled trees. Nearly 150 square miles of forest was blown over or left dead and standing. At the same time a mushroom-shaped column of ash rose thousands of feet skyward and drifted downwind, turning day into night as dark, gray ash fell over eastern Washington and beyond. Wet, cement-like slurries of rock and mud scoured all sides of the volcano. Searing flows of pumice poured from the crater. The eruption lasted 9 hours, but Mount St. Helens and the surrounding landscape were dramatically changed within moments. A vast, gray landscape lay where once the forested slopes of Mount St. Helens grew. In 1982 the President and Congress created the 110,000-acre National Volcanic Monument for research, recreation, and education. Inside the Monument, the environment is left to respond naturally to the disturbance.
Great hike. Headlamps are a plus so you can have your hands free to climb over the many rock pile obstacles. The lava wall and a couple of really tight spaces to get through made for an awesome experience. I've never experienced complete darkness until this. It wasn't as crowded on the day/time we went and if you turned off all your light sources, you could not see the person standing next to you. Would do this again for sure!
If you are a beginner mountaineer or an experienced hiker and are looking for an absolute thrill, this is for you. You need a permit that cost normally $23 and they start selling in February. The view is amazing at the top. Nothing I say on here will suffice, you just need to do it!
LOVED THIS HIKE! Permits are now bought online though, and can be printed out at home so no need to stop at the Lone Fir Resort. Ended up bringing too much water after reading the reviews here! It's a scramble on tough rock so bring warm gloves and/or gardening gloves (I brought both). We started our hike at 2AM and made it to the top to enjoy the sunrise. The wind was CRAZY at the top! But it was so beautiful! Bring layers and face layers (I had my buff and balaclava) because the dust and dirt get whipped around by the wind.
What a fun experience! Our kids 11 and 7 really enjoyed the caves. The upper was a little more than our guest was willing endure. It intimated her with a giant pile of boulders you had to walk over so we have already planned to go back next year. Just like everyone else says.. head lamp are a must.
Cant wait to do this again
This was an amazing experience. Went up in May on Mother's Day, and everyone wore dresses, it's tradition. The mountain was still covered with snow in May, so we took ice ax, crampons, and boots. The views were amazing throughout the hike, especially at the top.
More about the hike here: http://northboundanddown.com/2016/05/09/mount-st-helens/