Picture taken from an old camera a photographer just so happened to find at a Portland, Oregon Goodwill. She discovered there was still film in the camera and took it to be developed. The pictures were of the erupting volcano, forgotten by the family who took them.
Splintered stumps and downed trees reveal the direction the lateral blast traveled. Hot gasses made the blast flow like a fluid while the weight of ash, rock and fragmented wood held it tight to the ground. The ground-hugging cloud followed the lay of the land, rolling up and over ridge tops. Within 90 seconds, the debris-filled blast struck this forested hillside, pulverizing ancient trees. The nearly 500 mile per hour blast shattered and toppled trees. The blast stripped their bark and branches, carrying them miles away.
Unfortunately, this is how we saw Mount St. Helens the day we were there. As it was when we were leaving the Olympic Peninsula, the fire smoke from Canada has lingered on and is flowing down into southern Washington and into Oregon.
Mount St. Helens was declared a U.S. National Monument in 1982. At the end of the roughly 50 mile drive from Castle Rock to the Visitor Center at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, there are exhibits, movies, and Ranger led walks and talks. We enjoyed our visit, but I sure wish the sky was clearer.