Mt Saint Helens Hike
- September 25, 2020
- Posted by: William Hurtado
- Category: Recreation
In 1980 the fifth highest peak in Washington State blew up–a volcanic eruption that made history and spread ashes around the world. Mount Saint Helens is now a national monument that people can visit. My family had the opportunity to hike the ash covered trails recently with another family whose story of resilience is worth telling.
Garrison and Merilyn Chaffee are youth workers who have spent their lives helping people. Garrison is a youth pastor and Merilyn a music educator. They lived and worked in Paradise, California, where their children enjoyed the family estate that included a swimming pool and a grove of apricot trees.
In the morning of November 8, 2018, Garrison noticed the winds coming toward him and a light glow of a fire that had started miles away. He knew that soon the fire would reach him and his town, so he started to quickly evacuate. Little did he and thousands of other Paradise residents know that this fire would be the deadliest wildfire in the United States since 1918.
Like Mount Saint Helens blew up and displaced hundreds of families, the Paradise fire blew away the Chaffee’s normal life, displacing them for months.
The family heroically did everything they could to help the community around them. Garrison helped fund, build, and deliver over 250 sheds to local families. Merilyn helped kids gain strength through music by taking them on tour so they could process and tell their story.
Now, 18 months later, after total immersion of helping people cope, the family is worn and needs time to “breath.” They decided to step away and travel around the country to begin a family-centered recovery. My family was blessed to be one of their stopping points on their journey. Together we visited Mount Saint Helens and reflected on the greatness of the mountain, even after its eruption.
Flowers are blooming. Trees are growing. Life is re-emerging. Even after a hard blow. It hurt, but there is hope. I thank the Chaffee family for inspiring us to reach for hope even after experiencing such great loses. It is possible to breathe again!