Hitomi and I never have gone to hike Mt. St. Helens.
I have seen it from the air. When I was younger, A monk with a small plane, from Tim's zazen group, flew Tim and me over the crater area. I got to see it quite clearly from the air. I've seen it also from commercial planes, on the many flights to and from California.
I've also seen the IMAX movie at the Omidome, and countless pictures of its eruption.
For some reason, it didn't really seemed worth the drive. Too far. The North Cascades are a bit closer, so are Baker and Mt. Rainier. Photographically, those areas are more impressive overall. But I figure, since it's bound to be environmentally interesting. It has been 30 years since Mt. St. Helens erupted, it would be worth a look to see how things have recovered.
It's clearly no longer a moonscape, though parts of the Johnstone ridge area still look barren. There's (smallish) trees and shrubs everywhere. It looks like a serious fire plus a windstorm blew through, with a tsunami of some sort filling the lake below with the logs. Well, that's pretty much what happened, plus ash and magma, etc.
Botanically, every patch of land is dominated by one or two species of ground cover plants, e.g. just bracken fern or huckleberry. Or, you might come across a dense stand of alders, or a stand of grand fir or hemlock. In disturbed sites in a forest, there's at least some more competition between species, but it seems what grow is what colonized first.
The hike we did was a loop, a scant 8 miles from the Norway Pass trail head. Not hard, but it was a bit difficult in the heat and with little shade. Hiking the middle of the day wasn't a great plan, but we had just driven up that morning. The trail was in good shape with just a few older ladies coming our direction. (Most people seem to have headed up to Mt. Margaret.)
There were a few visitor center places, which were already closed at this point, and the Windy Ridge lookout to visit. It was indeed windy. A couple of
Camping in the backcountry seemed like a good idea, but Hitomi resisted. (I had even bought her a lightweight pack to use last year!) Instead, we found car camping at the Iron Creek campsite. It was actually a very nice place, tucked in some old growth trees, with plenty of moss and beautiful sorrel. There were lots of kids on bicycles but nobody was much of a nuisance. The trees kept it cool. As wild as it was, it was the quintessential Northwest garden.