To find your way to Heart Lake, ask Hazel, the park ranger. We bumped into her twenty miles back, along the East Fork of the Quinault River. When I asked her if there was a sign along the trail directing hikers to the Heart Lake Way Trail, she thoughtfully described the way: “Follow the O’Neil Pass Trail for several miles until you come to the base of a meadow with a rock outcropping, the kind of place any hiker would consider as a stopping place to enjoy lunch along the trail. Head uphill at a big fallen log. Keep your eyes open and you’ll soon spot the trail, darting up alongside a little creek bed. You can’t miss it.” We nearly missed it. We would have missed it if Hazel hadn’t clued us into the secret of finding the Heart Lake Way Trail.

You’re invited. After entering the Enchanted Valley of the soul, come on up the O’Neil Pass trail a few miles until you come into a broad meadow with a scattered rock outcropping. Take a few moments to catch your breath and enjoy the scenery. Check out the ridge high above. That’s where you’re headed. Find the fallen, rotting log. Step up and up, keeping your eyes out for that elusive ascending trail, making your climb across dry creek beds, into the dense gauntlets of mountain Hemlocks, silver Fir saplings, upward along narrow switchbacks to the ridge, then over the edge and the easy descent along the rocky scree, over the wooded rim of an alpine cirque. Finally, after the long journey, there it is, your soul’s Heart Lake, the high country source of your creative spirit, waiting in all her blue-green wonder to refresh you with a renewed sense of wonder.

These essays were written for busy people who have sensed there must be more to life than the daily grind. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls.(1) So sings the ancient songwriter of the life of the soul. If the depths of your soul call out to the depths of the soul of God, then keep climbing the Heart Lake Way Trail. The first few visits will seem difficult, even wearisome, leaving you a bit out of breath, dry mouthed and muscle sore. Keep returning and the Heart Lake Way Trail grows shorter and shorter until you find yourself on the shores of the lake without even noticing how you got there, even in the midst of a hectic stressful day in the middle of Manhattan madness. You’ll settle yourself down among the flowering heather, hear the swallows twittering in quick circles above, smell the sweetness of alpine wildflowers, and feel the cool breeze begin to refresh your whole inner being. Strangely, you’ll sense it too. You’ve not only been here before. You’ve been here all along.

(1) Psalm 42:7