Mount St. Helens: Monument to Catastrophe!
By Edward Isaacs
As a field guide, I strive to write field reports of each trip I lead, not only for my own personal record, but also as a reminder to others for years to come. Life is often replete with busy schedules, making it easy to forget what you had learned on a tour just a few weeks beforehand. One such report was a letter to the participants of the Mount St. Helens Family Camp last year. We are greatly looking forward to another season at Mount St. Helens this upcoming year; registration for our next family camp will be opened by January of 2020. In the meantime, please enjoy the following – see you on the trail!
What a marvelous opportunity we had to spend time together this past weekend investigating our Lord Jesus Christ’s creation! Genesis 1: 26-28 records God giving the first man and woman the Dominion Mandate, a responsibility to protect, care for, and investigate His world. Proverbs 25:2 states that, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” God has given us not the only the command but also the means to fulfill this ultimatum to explore His creation. God has given us supreme mental abilities far exceeding artificial intelligence and even the most human-like organisms. To use these abilities is to glorify God, and that is exactly what we did together this weekend at Mount St. Helens.
Initializing this search for a fuller understanding of God through His creation, we began Friday with an introduction to Mount St. Helens at the Mount St. Helens Creation Center before leaving by the Spirit Lake Highway to get our first glimpses at the Castle Lake Viewpoint. Along the Hummocks Trail in the adjacent valley we treaded upon the deposits of the largest landslide in recorded history. Here we gained not only an appreciation for the cataclysmic geologic work accomplished here, but also for the rapid biological recovery. Speedily our day ended, leading to our repose east of Cougar awaiting for our excursion through old growth forests, mudflow deposits, and the scorch zone the following morning. After these accomplished on Saturday, we continued to the northeastern reaches of Spirit Lake, again to witness the catastrophic deposition of basin-wide sediment fill and rapid biological recovery of both terrestrial and aquatic organisms. Our final day was hailed with an early rise and joyful praises to our Savior before we headed out for our final exploration. Of both great interest and great proportions was the Pine Creek Boulder, believed to have floated on the 1980 Pine Creek Lahar much as ice floats near the surface of water. Later we passed the upstream channel of the Pine Creek Lahar as we drove to the region of the Muddy River Lahar to investigate the peculiar physics of these geologic agents. At Lava Canyon we discussed the evidence for rapid geologic processes both before and during the May 18, 1980 eruption. Our final destination – a lava tube at the Trail of Two Forests – provided an introduction to lava tubes and the extensive post-Flood volcanic history of Mount St. Helens.
Mount St. Helens – a true monument to catastrophe – provides us with a modern analog for both the tremendous geologic upheaval during the Genesis Flood and the succeeding unparalleled biological recovery across the globe. David proclaims that God “hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion” (Psalms 111:4). But this is only a beginning; much more study needs to be done, particularly fleshing out our general chronology of Mount St. Helens and the area during and after the Flood. Even more important, however, is the dissemination of this information with a greater audience. That is what we pray we have done: strengthened you in your faith and further prepared you to give a ready answer to those who ask you a reason for the hope that is in you, as Peter prompted us (1 Peter 3:15).
I thank God for the time we were able to spend together investigating our Creator’s wonderful works. If you have any pictures that you are willing to share, we would enjoy seeing them and, if possible, using them for future work on our website/newsletter or perhaps in future publications.
Photographs by Edward Isaacs and Perry Webb