We leave the trailhead in a light snow that adheres to my ski bottoms, slowing progress. Luckily for Aki the snow doesn’t ball up on her fur so she runs unimpeded down the partially packed track.
The trail takes us over glacier moraine. Fog and low clouds obscure the glacier and surrounding mountains but with the new snow highlighting the sharp lines of bare alders lining the trail, there is no reason to look away.
Around a corner we encounter two beautiful young women and their three well groomed dogs. The women chat with each other while watching Aki dash between my legs when their dogs close on her. Suddenly I’m a basque shepherd with a diminutive sheep dog providing entertainment for these wealthy girls from Paris. They having just stopped in this Pyrenees backwater to exercise their dogs, don’t expect me to speak French. Why should they? The idea makes me smile until I notice them trampling the set ski track as they walk away.
We push on through the woods, crossing small lakes and sloughs to reach Mendenhall Lake. I planned on skiing over to Nugget Falls for a look at its frozen cascades but warm weather is softening the snow crust. Aki could dance across it but chooses to slog behind me as I break through with each step. We turn around after reaching an iceberg locked in the lake ice. Its calm blue color drew me like a beacon on this foggy morning. We have been on this lake, summer and winter, many times. Today’s fog renders strange and foreign the glacier and the other familiar landmarks surrounding the lake. With relief, we return to the well packed moraine trail and ski to the car.