Science Tribes on Mount St. Helens

James Sedell


I grew up camping in the Cascade Range, fishing the pristine alpine lakes up along the backbone of Oregon’s high mountains. I knew the waters of that country as a kid, and, later as an aquatic ecologist. As the helicopter flew me and several other scientists to the shore of Spirit Lake, I kept reminding myself that the waters of the blasted landscape around the volcano would bear no resemblance to the waters of my childhood. Even so, as I stepped out at the short of Spirit Lake, I was awestruck. The world had been rocked. All my boyhood recollections of cold, clear alpine lakes and streams in the shadows of tall conifers were blasted away, changed into a landscape of uniform gray. My extensive scientific knowledge of the ways these waters once w as was simply irrelevant. It was a staggering and disorienting encounter. My first footsteps into that alien landscape began an important journey into scientific and personal discovery.

From In the Blast Zone, page 84. (OSU Press, 2008)

Full Publication from Oregon State University Press