Mountains of Music

SUE'S VIEWS • Story by Susan Piper • Artwork by Lila Adams

Aren’t we fortunate that local businesses and organizations sponsor free outdoor summer concerts in our communities? The lineup of performers is amazing this year (see listing, page 30). What fun to throw together a snack box — or go all out and devise a “designer picnic” to share with family and friends, while relaxing and enjoying live music in one of our beautiful parks. There is even summer music on our local volcano, Mt. St. Helens!

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We may be entering a new era with regard to Mt. St. Helens. Many of us cherish nostalgic memories of Spirit Lake and the mountain before its eruption in 1980. The camping, huckleberry-picking, boating, fishing and hiking were glorious. We’ll never forget Harry Truman, summer camp, snipe hunting and singing around the campfire. What a loss when it all changed. But Mt. St. Helens need not forever remain a symbol of grief and destruction. Or a shrine to what once was.

It’s been 33 years and Nature has worked a miracle. Some community leaders — a few who were not even born yet when the mountain blew! — are gently helping us “turn the page.” The volcano and surrounding area offer a mountain of new possibilities.

Yes, something big is afoot at Mt. St. Helens. Authority over one segment of long locked up electrical power has been passed from the U.S. Forest Service to Cowlitz County PUD. This will benefit all property owners along SR-504, from Milepost 22 to Cold Water Ridge. “This is a major step in promoting economic development along the corridor,” wrote Mark Smith, who owns EcoPark Resort in Toutle.

Meanwhile, new hiking, mountain bike and snowshoe trails are being developed. Alice Dietz mentions many of the attractions along Spirit Lake Highway (SR-504) in her column “Beyond the Eruption” this month (see page 31). Some 300,000 visitors come to Mt. St. Helens each year, Alice told me. Two-thirds of them travel from foreign countries. We locals must be missing something!

When is the last time you made the short, 52-mile jaunt up Spirit Lake Highway? Maybe it’s time to venture to the mountain — again or for the first time. Let’s all get ready to take a “new look” at Mt. St. Helens.

A great opportunity presents itself on June 29 when Arts & Vines invites us tour from Castle Rock to the mountain, sipping local wines and enjoying Northwest art at various venues along the way (see ad, page 19). The day culminates at Johnston Ridge with Music on the Mountain (see ad, page 22).

Columbia River Reader’s bus will be on the scene. Stop by for your free gift and enter our drawing for an invitation to a future bus excursion. Rumors are flying about recent sightings of Bigfoot in the vicinity. Maybe we’ll get lucky and catch a glimpse. Some people say Bigfoot is drawn by the sound of drums.

Enjoy the music of summer.