Mt Saint Helens, as well as Mt Rainier, are part of the High Cascades. This particular volcano has been active for a long time, considering its oldest rocks are 37,000 years old. Although earthquakes were growing more frequent, at the the end of March 1980 no one thought an eruption was possible. By the end of April, police strongly encouraged evacuations, but mandatory evacuations did not exist at that time. Not everyone left, including one man who decided to stay because his wife was buried in his backyard. The man claimed he had chosen that location for his home because he "wanted to be closer to God." Well, if that was his intention, he chose wisely. On May 18, 1980 at 8:32pm, Mt. Saint Helens finally erupted. The explosion was so powerful, a third of the cone was completely destabilized, which can be seen by the pictures below. The nearby valley was filled with a hot mud flow, killing many people, and ash covered many states in the vicinity. The air blast knocked down trees and took lives as far as 20 miles away.
Eventually, we arrived at the Newberry Park Basaltic Lava Flows. Here we walked along a path surrounded by what is known in Hawaii as "aa lava" (pronounced "ah-ah"), which is so named because it's apparently rather painful to walk on barefoot and "ah-ah" is the sound you make when you do. We chose not to find out for ourselves.