Today I used my second day off while at Fort Lewis to head up to Olympic National Park and go for a short hike before spending the afternoon studying. The Olympic Mountains are one of the few places in Washington and Oregon that I had never been to - until today. This morning I headed up to the southeastern edge of the park - the Staircase entrance west of Hoosdsport.
As I drove up the 101 along Hood Canal I was struck by the Ocean scent. I've always heard that a scent was one of the strongest reminders of past places and events and this proved true today. As I drove along the canal I was taken back to the numerous holidays I spent with my family at my grandparent's house in Ocean Park, Washington. It took me back to going clamming early in the morning on the beach, taking a walk into town with my family, and waiting for the fresh clam chowder my grandma would be making for dinner that night. I think the reminiscing from the sea-scent set me up for an even more powerful association shortly thereafter.
I made it to Hoodsport and turned inland into the Olympic Peninsula. It was a drizzly, cloudy day but I paid the entrance fee at the park gate and set out on the Staircase Trail. Shortly after beginning the hike, after crossing over a foot-bridge into the woods, I was struck by an exhilarating scent which took me back to innumerable lazy days of childhood spent with my brothers exploring the woods and creeks around my home in Southwest Washington. It was that fresh, sweet, slightly musty scent produced by thousands of tons of decaying wood overlayed with a carpet of deep, lush moss and ferns damp from the light rain and mist. It took me back to those days of building forts, catching frogs, salamanders and crawdads and fishing for native rainbow trout that we would fry up later that day.
As I hiked along the North Fork of the Skokomish River this morning, taking in my surroundings with much joy, I was reminded that any beauty or glory here only points to an infinitely greater, stronger and eternal beauty and glory, the glory of the One who made this place. The lyrics which came to mind as I hiked this morning are below:
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul's glory, joy and crown.
Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heav'n can boast.
Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine.