By Steve Graepel
I remember the feeling more than the sound; a palpable ‘crack’ shattered through the bones of our house. At first we thought it was a car accident or maybe a gas explosion, but as we looked out the bay window to the north, we knew it was far worse... a mushroom cloud vigorously boiled up over the Portland skyline.
The youngest of the Cascade volcanoes, Mount St. Helens has always had the geological temperament of a teenage girl, marked by no less than four Current Era outbursts rivaling that which we experienced the morning of May 18, 32 years ago today. The peak's personality played a prominent figure in Native American oral history. According to the Klickitats, she was caught in a love triangle with two brothers who destroyed villages and territory while vying for her attention. As punishment, the chief of the gods turned all three to stone: Adams to the north, Hood to the south, and Loowit, to the west, became Louwala-Clough—or smoking mountain.
[Above: Mount St. Helens's yawning breach from the northwest. Photo: Steve Graepel]