Day three of a heavy rain storm and Aki and I are on a mission to close the circle through these troll woods. We like this mossy place when it rains but the best path through it ends at the Moraine Glacier Trail. The Park Service closed that trail because it crosses Steep Creek, now thick with spawning sockeye salmon. The salmon draw bears who use the moraine trail to get to their meat. With the moraine trail closed we need a new way back to car which doesn’t involve back tracking. Aki hates that.
On the way we pass the patch of burned out forest that yielded unexpected beauty earlier this summer. Lupine now recovered from being burned to the soil line display pale lilac blossoms. Their brothers and sisters on undisturbed ground have long since gone to seed and I wonder if these survivors would have been better off saving root strength for next spring. We’ll know then, if theirs is a foolish or wise choice but for now it’s enough to enjoy their small gift of spring while leaves around them fall.
We enter the true troll woods soon after the burn and discover a well used trail forking right from the one we usually take. A perfectly shaped poplar leaf, its deep green giving way to a wave of yellow marks the junction. We follow a series of these transition leaves up the new trail. I start looking for a witch’s house and remind myself not to let Aki eat the gingerbread if we find it.
The trail leads past trees freshly dropped by beavers and across a narrow but deep channel between two ponds. After that it is marked with mushrooms, not yellowing leaves and peters out when we cross another narrow channel. Aki is willing to go on for she fits easily under the alder brush now blocking the way for me. Turning around I realize that we have been walking on the beaver’s logging roads that cross the channels they prepare for moving wood product to their food pile. I can hear cruise ship buses rounding the visitor center parking area so we have come close to closing the circle but not close enough. “Sorry little dog,” we have to turn back.