Mt. St Helens' historic eruption took place in 1980, seven years before I entered this crazy world. I grew up hearing anecdotal stories about the insane event, but it took me three decades to get my butt to Helens for a proper visit. Rainier really steals the show around here, and since it's visible from the city I grew up with an idea of it as the quintessential Washington peak. Only in the past few years of hiking regularly have I come to know and appreciate the lofty competition: the North Cascades and Liberty Bell, Mt. Baker, Mt. Adams, Olympics, let alone The Enchantments...
It was undeniably fulfilling to finally witness the absolute abundance and magic of Mt. St Helens this past weekend. Claire, Julia, and I made our way to the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center at the end of Highway 504 on Sunday morning. We were somewhat prepared for a hike to Harry's Ridge, another one of those archetypal trails I've admired trip reports of for years. I had avoided it due to the drive time from Seattle, but it's an easy 2 hours from Olympia. New territory is the absolute best.
You don't need to put in any work to get a Facebook ready photo of this place. From the moment you park, views of Mt. St Helens are arresting. We had come in expectation of glorious wildflowers and the mountain delivered spectacularly. We took the Boundary Trail just under 2 miles in before hopping on the Harry's Ridge trail, named after Mt. St. Helens icon Harry Truman (no U.S. government affiliation).
Harry is what indie movie dreams are made of. He became a local legend at the end of his life. Sassy and senile and dead-set (literally) in his conviction to remain Innkeeper of the Mt. St. Helens lodge despite two months of erruption warnings and calls for evacuation. At 83, he was buried in the eruption and the largest resulting landslide in history.
He was interviewed extensively by morbidly obsessed news people in the days leading up the catastrophic eruption. I love this quote I found from the time: Speaking in the third person, he said "You couldn't pull me out with a mule team. That mountain's part of Truman and Truman's part of that mountain."
His conviction equally disturbed and impressed everyone watching in wait.
Sometimes I ponder the Doomsday possibility of an earthquake so massive multiple Cascade Stratovolcanoes are set off simultaneously; tidal waves dominating and disappearing downtown Seattle sky scrapers. These are momentary, fleeting visuals that accompany my quiet, internal acknowledgement of the unknown that abounds in Nature.
"I had the realization that I and my entire generation, My whole civilization in fact, are going to be one thin layer of sediment in the side of a cliff someday......I'm going to die and be a million years dead, and anyone who might possibly judge me for my pursuits and mistakes will be a fossil right next to mine in that cliffside." -Gregg Levoy
Views of Mt. Adams across Spirit Lake
Despite the danger that lurks around every bend of life and everything worth doing, I've come to a really important conclusion lately.
I am going to be okay no matter what.
When I think this thought and turn it around, try it on in my mind, I'm not met with any of the hesitation or doubt that I used to feel. Instead it's more like fact, indisputable, cut and dry reality.
I've pulled myself up and out of despair more than once. I feel more self assured today than I ever have. I truly don't feel like I need anything or anyone. I still want plenty, but need doesn't proceed or determine the want. What comes my way, let alone actually stays, is a blessing. A story for later. Perhaps a lesson as well. I don't chase ghosts or demons anymore, nor people. I'm not in the business of convincing anyone to value me or understand me as I continually change.
It makes a difference. Respecting yourself, looking within for validation, acceptance....it changes the energy of your force field, which is constantly bumping up against and sometimes merging with others. Self-esteem is good for the goose and good for the gander.
Try it on for size. Tell yourself: I am going to be okay no matter what. I ebb and flow. I survive.
"The fear of being unloved is at the root of every tyrant's desire to oppress others in order to feel worth. Self Love is not only a radical act, its collective awakening will transform and heal our world." -Bunny Michael
|Finally at the tip top|
Heading back down the line