As I mentioned in my previous post, my aunt came to visit last week. On Wednesday, I took her to Mount St. Helens. On Thursday, we followed that up with a trip out to Rainier. It was important for me to do these day trips on consecutive days, because I think the contrast between the two areas is very striking. Mount St. Helens and the surrounding area still wear very deep scars caused by the 1980 eruption.
Look at this landscape:
This was taken from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. (You can't tell from this picture, but there is steam rising from the lava dome.)
Now this (somewhat cloudy) picture of Rainier, taken from the visitor center at Paradise:
Huge difference. St. Helens seems desolate. Rainier looks lush (if a bit snowy) and full of life.
Signs of life exist at St. Helens, of course. Wildflowers bloom, even amidst all the tree stumps left from the blast. A coyote passed in front of us on the road. As I was getting ready to leave, I spotted a butterfly, which is a known symbol of resurrection.
But Rainier, too, shows its signs of renewal. It was a harsh winter, and the deep snow is finally giving away to avalanche lilies.
The snow drifts are melting into rivulets in some places, waterfalls in others, creating a different landscape from what I've seen in previous visits.
After we left Mount Rainier National Park - since this is likely my last visit, at least to the Paradise side - we did something I've been wanting to do for awhile. We stopped at Copper Creek (a former client of mine) for a slice of their blackberry pie a la mode. It was so delicious. The perfect ending to our visit. We also stopped to browse at a couple of galleries in Ashford that sit along the road going in and out of the Nisqually entrance to the park. I recommend doing this. There are so many interesting things to see along that road.
As always, my entire photo album is on Flickr. Of all the things I'll miss about living in this area, these majestic mountains are what I'll miss the most.