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Oops, I exploded
Chapter One: Tummy Troubles
People are always making a big deal about my 1980 explosion. It was in the headlines everywhere. “Mount St. Helens eruption!” “Catastrophic Landslides!” “Miles covered in ash by volcano!” Yea, I killed a few people, and pretty much obliterated everything in my path. But it’s not like this was the first time I exploded. I’ve been blowing up way before dates and years were even invented.
And honestly, what’s the big deal? I have tummy troubles. And sometimes they cause me to, you know, erupt. Though I will admit, it was kind of a shame. The forest around me before the eruption was beautiful. There were all sorts of evergreen trees that formed thick, lush forests, and a crystal-clear lake humans like to call “Spirit Lake.” Though after my eruption, it wasn’t so crystal clear anymore. And then there were the animals. Elk, black-tailed deer, black bears, and cougars….I sort of killed them too. And quite a few birds. And insects. And the force of my explosion knocked down and acres of trees and forest. Oopsie. Though it wasn’t on purpose!
Only the little nocturnal creatures who were lucky enough to be in their burrows survived. Which was a shame. I mean hey, I have nothing against gophers. I just wished all the others would have survived too.
But anyway, how about I stop reminiscing and regretting and just get on with the story. It all started with another case of tummy troubles. Tummy troubles that occurred on a you know, geographic scale. In the early spring of 1980, I must of consumed something bad for me, because my stomach really started to rumble. Humans called it earthquakes. Man, talk about a stomach upset. Eventually, it hurt so bad I had to let out at least a little steam. I must have underestimated my own force though, because along with steam I let out quite a bit of ash. Oh yea, and I blew a 250 foot crater into myself. Whoopsie.
But what really made the humans freak out was a weird tumor of rock that started growing out of my head. Suddenly scientists were swarming all over me. Geez, nowadays with these pesky humans, no one can go about their normal geographical functions without a fuss! I’ve had plenty eruptions thousands of years ago, one around 36000 years ago was 4 times bigger than the 1980 explosion! And did anyone freak out and start running a bunch of tests? No, of course not. Humans are such drama queens.
Anyway, after that my stomach kept rumbling. And rumbling. And rumbling some more. And rumbling even more. Humans said it was like 20 earthquakes per hour.
That was when the humans, being the drama queens that they were, declared a state of emergency. People started evacuating. Well, that is, everyone for this one human. What was his name? Oh yes, Harry R. Truman. He lived in a lodge quite close to me, and when he was pressured to leave, he said, “I think the whole damn thing is over exaggerated. . . Spirit Lake and Mount St. Helens are my life. . . . You couldn't pull me out with a mule team." Stubborn guy. I liked him.
Besides, despite my rapidly growing there was no guarantee I was going to blow. Maybe everyone was just making a mountain out of a molehill- er, volcano.
Chapter 2: Let it Blow
Spoiler alert, the humans weren’t exaggerating. I let it blow. My side practically blew off And what happened to that stubborn old man, Harry Truman? Well, he died. Natural causes, I promise. Because I’m a natural geographical form.
Yea,I killed him. Hate myself for it to this day but man, did that explosion feel good. You know, having all that stuff churning inside you for hundreds of years can really give you quite the stomach ache. Unfortunately, there were some consequences to be paid for my relief.
The north slope of me catastrophically failed. There was a huge lahar, and it rolled down my side. Fun fact, it was the largest landslide witnessed in modern times. I know, impressive. That’s one thing checked off my bucket list.
In fact, my landslide was so powerful that it unleashed hurricane-force winds of hot gases. There were rocks in it too, and they completely toppled 143 square miles of trees. My explosion was so impressive, it affected areas the silly humans deemed out of the danger zone!
I killed 42 square miles of trees with the heat of my blast- but they still stood. It was like a ghost town, except with trees. And then of course, there was the ash. A lot of ash. Areas close to me got a whopping 2 to 3 feet of pumice, and even places several hundred miles away were coated with a thin layer of ash. It was like grey snow. Except less cold and clean.
There were mudflows and landslides and gases and boy- it was quite the scene. But it was only after I let out my oh-so-satisfying belch that I realized what I had done to my beautiful surroundings.
Chapter 3: A Forest in Ruins
My forest looked nothing like it did pre-eruption. Humans who recognized me and my surroundings before couldn’t point out a single landmark. That’s how much I’ve changed. The once lush green forest was barren and dead looking. Some humans say it was like the surface of the moon. Acres of trees were charred and knocked down. Pretty much all of my animals were wiped out, especially the birds and big mammals near the blast zone. Spirit Lake was uninhabitable, and had risen quite a bit thanks to all the ash that had fallen in it. Dead trees floated around in the lifeless lake. It’s only inhabitants were microbes.
But then, only 10 days after my eruption, something remarkable happened. Fungi started to grow back. Then slowly, shrubs began to grow back. Winds brought light seeds and insects into my environment. As soon as the first plants started to grow, small animals came back. When the vegetation thickened, Elk, being highly mobile creatures, were able to move in and out of my blast zone, which sped up plant recovery. Amazingly, salmon and trout who were maturing in the Pacific Ocean at the time of my eruption successfully swam up my ash-clogged waterways. It was a miracle.
Although I wiped out millions of organisms living above ground when I er, exploded, quite a few life-forms survived my blast. And the ones who didn’t were slowly coming back to me. I was so happy I could hardly believe it- my forest was recovering!
Chapter 4: Chaos in the 2000’s
My 1980 eruption was quite a shock for the humans. Unfortunately, the poor furless creatures were going to have to deal with quite a bit more drama from me. Because between 1989 and 1991 there were about 30 bursts of intense seismic activity lasting from a few minutes, to a few hours. A lot of my bursts were accompanied by small explosions from my dome. What can I say? I have a very bad case of acid reflux. And unfortunately, there are no tums large enough for me.
And then on September of 2004, my stomach really started rumbling. A bunch of shallow earthquakes began inside my lava dome. And let me just say, even though erupting feels nice, there is nothing pleasant about a quaking and grumbling in your insides. It’s even more uncomfortable when it’s on a tectonic level.
And then, on October 1, 2004, I erupted. There were several explosions of ash and gases into the atmosphere (sorry environment.) And though this eruption was nothing like my 1980 one, it was still quite a slap in the face for the humans. Because let’s face it, humans are complete control freaks. They think them and their fancy schmancy brains and technology can rule everything. But some things, like me, are just completely out of their control. The truth is, you can research and study a volcano like all you want- but you can’t stop one from erupting.