Summer Quarter Special Field Course

Mount Saint Helens, Washington (photo courtesy USGS/CVO).

BIOL 497/597 (77) or GEOL 497/597(77):
Kicking Ash at Mount St. Helens

Summer Quarter 1997
Instructors: Drs. Buchanan, Kiver and Schwab


A seven day field trip will enable participants to study firsthand some of the fascinating and spectacular natural history of the Cascade Range, specifically at Mount St. Helens, Washington. We will focus on the volcanic geology of this region and the effects of the catastrophic 18 May 1980 eruption and subsequent eruptions on the landscape and ecosystem along with the present state of biological recovery. Course participants must be capable of daily strenuous activity in rough terrain at high elevations.

Here are graphics showing the location of Cascade Range volcanos [18K,gif] and the eruptive history [16K,gif] of the major cones.


Course meets from 27 July to 2 August, 1997. We will depart the Cheney campus at 7:00 A.M. sharp on Sunday and return to the same point late in the afternoon the following Saturday. Pack a lunch for the first day of travel.

Pre-trip Meeting:

A mandatory pre-trip meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 21, at 6:00 pm in the Geology Department on the EWU Cheney campus. It is critical (and expected) that you attend this important meeting!! Contact the instructors if you absolutely can't attend this meeting!

Tentative Itinerary:

Day 1 -- Drive to Mt. St. Helens area, roadside geology and biology; camp at Seaquest State Park.
Day 2 -- Roadside geology/biology up the Toutle River and various hikes; camp at Seaquest State Park.
Day 3 -- Hikes at Ape Cave, Lahar, Lava Falls; Camp at Beaver Bay.
Day 4 -- Long hike to summit or to Ape Canyon; Camp at Beaver Bay.
Day 5 -- East side geology/biology and introduction to Windy Ridge; Camp at Iron Creek.
Day 6 -- Various hikes around Windy Ridge; Camp at Iron Creek.
Day 7 -- Drive to Cheney, arrive about 4:00 P.M.


The required text, Roadside Geology of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Vicinity by Pat Pringle, will be furnished to students enrolled in this course. There will be readings assigned during the pre-trip meeting for the students to complete.

Course Fee:

The $113 course fee pays for all transportation, Monument entry fees, text, handouts and campground fees. Students must provide their own camping gear (see list on reverse) and furnish their own meals. Note -- all tuition and fees must be paid in full prior to departure.

Equipment and Food:

A recommended equipment list is found below. We will be camping in campgrounds during the entire trip, and preparing our meals in the field. Plan accordingly.


Attend the pre-trip meeting. Students are required to complete a set of pre-trip questions due at departure time, maintain a road log of the trip that clearly describes each stop with text and sketches, and also answer a set of post-trip questions. All assignments are due no later than 4 pm on August 12, 1997. Graduate students will have special presentations to make in the field.


It is expected that students will be in good physical condition and capable of extended daily hikes at high elevation. At least one hike will gain/lose 4,500 feet in elevation over an eight mile distance over very rugged terrain. Students with personal medical concerns must see an instructor before participating in this field course.

More information:

Call Dr. Buchanan or Dr. Kiver at 509-359-2286, or Dr. Schwab at 509-359-4727.

Or you can send inquiries via email to:

Suggested list of survival equipment:

Note: Campsites will not have electrical outlets.  Do not bring equipment
that requires electricity!

1.  Outdoor clothing (including a rain jacket, warm jacket, sweater, long pants,
hat, gloves, etc. in case of inclement weather).  Daytime temperatures will most
likely be pleasant to hot, however, it can get chilly at night.  Also consider
bringing shorts and t-shirts for hiking in hot weather.  Note:  we will be in the
Cascades - the weather can be highly variable so be prepared.

2.  Sturdy lightweight (and water resistant) hiking shoes and extra socks;  tennis
shoes for around camp.

3.  Shelter - pair up with someone and share a good quality, lightweight nylon tent.
Bring a tarp if your tent doesn't have a good rain fly.  Don't forget a ground cloth.

4.  Sleeping bag and pad - recall that it may get cold at night.  No cots or huge
inflatable mattresses, please.

5.  Food - we will be camping every night and also preparing meals in the field.
Plan your meals ahead of time, preferably using foods items that do not break or spoil.
Pack your foodstuffs in study cardboard or plastic utility boxes.   Space is limited
and coolers are not allowed.  Pack your lunch for the first day of the trip.

6.  Camp stove - again, pair up with someone and share a stove.

7.  Eating utensils - to be both fed and polite!  Include a bowl, knife, spoon, etc.

8.  Personal toiletry items, towel, etc.  Showers may be available at some campgrounds.

9.  Water bottles - bring at least three (3) one-liter water bottles.
We will provide the water.

10.  Money - as everyone knows one can always survive with money!

11.  Sturdy day pack - a roomy day pack to carry your lunch, notebook, water bottles,
sweater, etc.  Do not bring a frame backpack!

12.  Notebook and pencils, hand lens and handouts.

13.  No rock hammers or plant presses!  We will be visiting a national monument,
therefore, no collecting!

14.  Strongly recommended: sun screen, sun glasses, bandana and/or hat.  Long underwear
for lounging around camp on a chilly, damp night.

15.  Flashlight for the lava tubes and around camp at night (and unscheduled Bigfoot

Non-essential items (what the heck, go first class)

1.  Camera and film - buy your film ahead of time as it is very expensive in the monument.

2.  Hand lens and binoculars.  Plant, bird, bug and rock field guides for the Cascades.

3.  Extra bucks for purchase of material in visitors center.  Always tempting!

Important Note:

Please try to pack all of the above items in a soft duffel to facilitate packing the gear. Avoid suitcases or frame backpacks! Also, keep important or necessary items in your day pack for instant access during travel to and from Mount St. Helens. Pack compactly.

Go To:

Here is theEWU Department of Geology page, an entrance to all things geological at Eastern.

Check out Dr. Buchanan's Home Page to learn more about his courses and research activities.

Visit the official EWU Home Page for a virtual tour of the university.

Stop by the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory to learn more about Cascade Range volcanos.