What? There’s a volcano in our back yard?
They may be forgiven for their surprise, slightly, for even though Mount Baker is huge, snow-covered, and only about 60 miles away, much of the time it isn’t visible because of frequent rain, fog, and other atmospheric murkiness. However, on a clear day, it is a conspicuous feature of the southeastern horizon, and viewable from any hilltop, open space, large bridge or tall building.
There are mountains ringing the area, but only Baker looks like a volcano. It is, in fact, an andesitic stratovolcano, the top-of-the-line type of volcano.
Driving north from Seattle, which has its own back-drop volcano (Rainier, pronounced Ra-neer), Mount Baker starts popping out at you somewhere north of Lynnwood. This was the first time I’ve travelled up the I-5 on a gloriously clear day. I found myself watching for its summit, like a kid watching for the moon through the trees.
Will it eat me? That was what a little girl named Betty kept asking on a rocky shore nature program. Every time someone discovered a crab, or worm, or snail, Betty would ask, “Will it eat me?” which to me encapsulated the common reaction of so many people to nature. Will it bite me? Will it attack me? Will it send a choking, burning, pyroclastic cloud on top of me?
We don’t have a lot to worry about, regarding Mt. Baker. The biggest hazard, as far as I can tell, is that it draws your eyes from the road as you zoom along the interstate. On a larger scale, an eruption could cause part of the snowpack to melt, which could lead to flooding in whichever drainage basin(s) the water and mud flowed. In Canada, flooding might occur in the area south and west of Chilliwack. Here is information on the mountain, its composition, historical behaviour, etc.