Getting the flavor of ... Mount St. Helens now

Hike along the trails around Mount St. Helens and you'll encounter lava flows, recovering flora, and other signs of the volcanic erruption in 1980.

Mount St. Helens now

Circumnavigate Mount St. Helens and you can get lost in the “shadow of America’s most famous volcano,” said Adrienne Saia Isaac in Backpacker. Hike the nearly 29 miles of the Loowit Trail, and “you’ll scramble over old lava flows, witness recovering flora, and peek into the infamous crater” that in 1980 caused the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history. For now the 8,365-foot volcano is dormant and provides a “challenging, rocky route” for even experienced backpackers. Ramble through classic Pacific Northwest scenery, along the Toutle River, to catch glimpses of a restricted blast zone that scientists are still studying. Cross the “moon-like expanse” of the Plains of Abraham, created by repeated avalanches. Head up the 4,900-foot Windy Pass to catch sight of Spirit Lake and Mount Rainier to the north. On the way down, gullies of broken rock open to “lupine-packed meadows”—a picture-perfect close to an eye-opening journey.

Contact: Fs.fed.us/gpnf

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Mexican Los Angeles

The centers of Mexican life in Los Angeles are a “short ride” from just about anywhere in the sprawling California city, said Lawrence Downes in The New York Times. To find the community’s soul, however, you need to “immerse yourself in its music.” Throughout the city’s clubs and bars, swap meets and shopping centers, you can hear the sound of what’s known as “the rap of modern Mexico.” Narcorridos are songs about “bandits and outlaws updated to the age of drug cartels and AK-47s.” They’re played in either the brass-based banda style or norteño style, with accordion, guitar, bass, and drums. At the Alameda Swap Meet, musicians stroll through a “dazzling Mexican market” where “narrow walkways are lined with soccer jerseys, Western shirts, and cowboy hats.” At Plaza Mexico, a shopping mall “built with Disneyish exactitude to evoke an old Mexican city,” you’ll get the “full taste of Mexican Los Angeles, as powerful and strange as it gets.”

Contact: Plazamexico.com

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