The West Glacier trail starts on ground too new to be interesting on any but the sunniest day. We have such a day and enjoy patterns of light and dark cast by early morning light. The muddy portions of he trail froze hard last night and have yet to thaw. A thin skim of ice covers the ponds that will soon release clouds of mosquitos to prey on this summer cruise ship tourists. It is good to take this trail now before summer with its guided ecotours, bugs, and helicopters.
The main trail is one of frustration. Even now, while the trees are still bare we only get filtered views of the glacier. After a couple miles of flat walking we climb far above the glacier ice. From here the glacier becomes a frozen river sending up rapids of ice where it flows over granite domes and ridges. A rough trail takes you to the glacial ice but Aki and I keep climbing toward the summit of Mt. McGinnis.
A shattering marmot whistle takes me by surprise and I realize that I’ve dropped into the hiking trance, partly induced by the constant low frequency drumming of grouse. After that I look up more and see things like a grouse and these mountain goats grazing in the sun. I also see the lines carved into hard rock by the glacier and car sized boulders dropped here and there by retreating ice.
We stop where an overhanging rock offers a rare unimpeded view of ice. I sit facing the glacier. Aki faces down the trail, leaning against me, enjoying the warmth of the rock. I reach over and rub her ears. She licks my hand once in thanksgiving. Then we return to the trail.