Aki and I attempt again the ascent to Cropley Lake. This time we bring reinforcements and a map that promises an easier route than the shear wall of snow we faced on our last try. The other human in Aki’s daily life joins us after packing a picnic, which I gladly carry in a day pack.
Keeping Fish Creek on our left we follow the track of a skier that crashed down through this thick forest to the ski area parking lot. He or she had skills for we find no blood on the snow. Near where the trail breaks out onto a rolling mountain meadow we flush a pure white ptarmigan. At this time of year, flushing means stirring the bird into a slow strutting walk.
I think of Bethel friend Franz for together we once hunted these tasty birds from the seats of snow machines. This one looks fat and would probably yield nice stew meat. It also looks beautiful, striking an erect rooster pose, head slight aback to monitor danger.
An hour and half on snow shoes brings up to the lake. The surrounding mountain walls are closer that I remembered. Deep snow still covers all. Hundreds of small avalanche tracks marks the steep mountain walls, promising danger to anyone foolish enough to pass under them.
We had full sun when we started but now dark clouds fill half the sky. The stubborn sun still shines through a sucker hole to fill one of the mountain bowls with pure white light.