This is an absolutely fascinating place (and I am not particularly into geology, etc.). This earth is so amazing! I remember when the 1980 eruption happened but had no idea what that really meant. It was a deadly eruption in both human (over 50 people died), plant and amimal destruction. One reason it caused so many human deaths is that the destruction covered such an amazingly large area (prior to this eruption the most area covered by this type of volcanic eruption was 27 square miles in Japan – this one covered 230 square miles). People (even the experts) thought being 30 miles away was safe. It is a lttle eerie being that close to a still active volcano although all the experts believe they will have 3 weeks notice before a major eruption (there have been many smaller ones that have grown the dome since the eruption in 1980). Visit these links for more information.
These few tree stumps give a sense of what it must have been like after everything settled, except the area would have been covered with this tree debris. One can see that the area below the mountain has still not become tree covered although areas further away have begun to recover.