Some roots and seeds that were churned up in the landslides came to rest near the surface and soon sprouted. Insects buzzed in, and pollen rode the mountain winds. Tiny pocket gophers, whose burrows had served as bomb shelters, emerged to dig new holes, churn up fresh soil.
One forested valley that was transformed into a flat expanse of rubble is today a patchwork of wetlands and plains, home to bright green Pacific chorus frogs, red-winged blackbirds, elk and coyotes.
The air is heavy with alder pollen, and noble firs and Douglas firs sprout everywhere. As more plants like the purple lupine flower or the orange fireweed sprout, rebirth gathers momentum.
The area should be fully renewed within 100 years, an eyeblink in geological time.
It's been 20 years since Mount St. Helens erupted
with the force of a 24 megaton nuclear bomb, and life is returning to the devastated area.