Once again I am hesitant to write this post. If you are following the news from Washington State, you have heard about the Oso Mudslide. Which is about 40 miles north of me.
We have had record-breaking rains this month, over 9 inches. About a week ago, the side of a hill just let go. A mile wide wave of mud and debris came down, went across the Stilaguamish river and smashed into a rural neighborhood. The recovery process is ongoing, 20 people have died and 30 are still missing, somewhere in 40 feet of mud.
I was hesitant to write this post for one reason. Even though the loss of life is tragic, not to mention the houses themselves won’t be covered by insurance, nature has once again amazed me. I honestly wish the houses were NOT there, but I was on top of a safe hill somewhere watching it go!
Since I was a kid, nature, and the aftermath of a big event, truly amazes me. I can watch it forever. When I was little, I liked to build sand castles and walls below the high tide line. I would always try to make it as strong and thick as i could just to keep the waves out as long as possible. I could sit and watch it forever, and be ready to build another one at the next low tide.
I learned a lot from the way the water could find the smallest little crack and then make it bigger, or the way one wave, bigger than any other, would come in and simply overwhelm the entire structure. This has stuck with me as I grew up and I have built the same castles with both boys as they’ve gotten bigger.
When I was a climber, I climbed with guides who knew the safe routes, the ones not prone to avalanches. But just because we weren’t hit by them didn’t mean we didn’t see them. First we would hear the rumble, which gained our attention, and when you looked up and would see a huge amount of snow and ice tumbling down the mountain. When it hit the bottom, it seemed to explode back up in the air. Spotting these became one of my favorite things.
Back in 1980 I lived in Washington when Mt St Helens blew. We’ve all see the pictures of this, but I was watching it live. Ashclouds, mudflows, rivers flooding, I couldn’t get enough.
I read everything there was about it and have climbed that mountain 5 times just to see what there was to see.
One of the most memorable moments for me, came on top of Mt St Helens. I was on top, checking out the lava dome that is building in the crater, when a rock slide just let go. A huge rockfall occurred right in front of me, and I was able to take this video.
I was riveted to the sight. Again I was safe, on top, but I tried to memorize every rock and sound. It was the closest I’d ever come to something like this. There’s no way to plan it, and if I was even 10 minutes faster or slower I woulda missed it. Sometimes you get lucky.
I remember watching the raw footage off the tsunami rolling into the country side. I saw it completely overwhelming everything in its path. I wanted more!! I know I was watching people lose everything, and maybe even the loss of life. But the inner science teacher in me saw nature on the move. Nothing could stop it. It was a giant version of my sand castle at high tide.
I guess I look at it this way. The Earth has been her for over 4 billion years. Over time, volcanoes, the ocean, drifting continents and weather have shaped what we see and where we live today. What many people don’t realize, is that it is still happening to this day.
Hurricanes, sink holes, floods, and yes, mudslides. In a city, people don’t get to see this. I am lucky enough though, to live somewhere that I can see the process still happening. Again, I am very sorry for all the families, it makes me very sad.
Nature, though, is as dangerous as it is spectacular. My wish would be no one ever get hurt from something like this again, but I would still like to see a slide like this actually happen!