Mt. St. Helens eruption tantrum so devastated the landscape that Hollywood tried to rent it as a Star Trek sound stage. Yet as our hike continued, each bend in the trail revealed a startling exclamation of LIFE!
How did life recover so quickly at Mt. St. Helens?
“Parachuting in, and wafting on the wind, millions of spiders and insects, following their normal life cycle, rained from the sky onto the ash-covered earth. Few survived, but these ‘bug bodies’ became food for animals, insects and spiders and fertilizer for plants!” Quote from The Case of the Missing Mountain.
This “rain” of bugs, which I would have DEFINITELY wanted an umbrella for, was a great start for recovery of life here on the Hummocks trail.
The wind also transported Lupine seeds, a spectacular purple wildflower. This plant survived in the poor ashy soil because its roots contain a bacteria that pulls nitrogen out of the air – like a magician!
Islands of Life!
Staking it’s claim to life for about three or four years, the Lupine acts as a net, collecting things like dead bugs and pieces of dirt. It begins to establish an “island of life!” Later, enough humus has built up that other pioneer plants like Fireweed and Pearly Everlasting can make their appearance.
Adventure to be continued…