By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Outside the 97-year-old lodge, birds flitted through the near-cloudless sky as parents helped children get into canoes for a paddle on Lake Crescent.
“I have the honor of running the most amazing part of Olympic National Park, the Lake Crescent Lodge,” said lodge General Manager Todd Gubler, drawing a few chuckles from the crowd.
“We have been part of the history of the park before the park existed.”
The lodge was built in 1916. It was June 29, 1938, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill establishing Olympic National Park.
On the anniversary, the park waived entrance fees, while park concessionaire Aramark hosted a breakfast at Lake Crescent Lodge at Barnes Point 15 miles west of Port Angeles.
After the breakfast, Aramark hosted a free picnic lunch buffet at Log Cabin Resort on East Beach Road off Highway 101.
At the Lake Crescent breakfast, Gubler introduced a bevy of speakers, including William Melville, staff trainer at Lake Crescent Lodge and a Makah tribal member who sang a traditional Makah song of thanks and welcome to open the breakfast.
“In my personal perspective, I think the [National] Park Service has been a wonderful steward of the land our family has used for hundreds of years,” said Melville, adding that his great-great-great-grandfather was one of the Makah tribal members who signed a peace treaty with the federal government in the mid-1800s.
Port Angeles Mayor Cherie Kidd thanked the Park Service and Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum for maintaining a strong working relationship between the Park Service and the city.
“We hope that we will always take care and honor [the park] because our next generation wants it to be as perfect as it is now,” Kidd said.
Creachbaum said she was but one of many caretakers of the park.
“On behalf of the National Park Service, I want to bestow a heartfelt thank-you for all your stewardship,” she said.
A few yards away from the anniversary celebration, Jennifer Eichenberger of Bellevue was crouched along the pebble-strewn shore of Lake Crescent watching her husband, Theron, and three daughters toss rocks into the water.
“We just really wanted to take the girls out into nature,” Eichenberger said, adding that her family visited Hurricane Ridge last year.
Eichenberger said her daughters had jumped off the nearby dock into the lake, taken in a campfire interpretive program led by a park ranger and hiked up to Marymere Falls.
“It was a muddy hike, so we had fun bouncing on the logs through the mud,” Eichenberger said.
Not far away on a path leading to Lake Crescent Lodge's main entrance, Anya Samawicz, a seasonal interpretive ranger at the park, spoke to a inquisitive visitor about how she came to work there.
Samawicz, who previously had worked as interpretive programs manager for Aramark, which runs Lake Crescent Lodge, said she has the park itself to thank for her education and current job.
“I know this park made me want to go back to school and learn about the environment,” Samawicz said.
A 2005 graduate of Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment in Bellingham, Samawicz said she's lived in several states and spent time in West Africa.
A hike through the Sol Duc rain forest, though, showed her there was no place she'd rather be than Washington state.
“I've been all over the world, and I decided this is an amazing place to be,” Samawicz said.
“I got a job in the Park Service and realized this is pretty much all I want to do.”
For more information about the park's history, visit www.nps.gov/olym.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.