The first steps of the year in snowshoes always leave me discouraged.  It lasts until I find the rhythm and adjust the pace of travel.  Only snowshoes will work this morning. A series of nasty North Pacific lows have buried us in two feet of snow.  Strong winds pushed the stuff into the woods so nothing changes when we move from open moraine into the troll woods.  This first snow of the year has enough cohesion to drape white thick blankets over the trail railing.

I find the rhythm quicker than Aki who hangs back 20 feet and occasionally glances toward the car with a look of cautious hope on her face. Has she out grown the puppy joy that plunging head first into deep snow used to bring?  She did turn 5 last week. We have this place of beauty to ourselves so I move deeper into the woods. Eventually she takes station a foot behind the tail of my snowshoes.

No tracks mark the snow before we crest a low ridge and drop into the beaver flooded land. Then we see snowshoe hare tracks everywhere. Trail side alders hear heavy loads of snow. Those overcome by it lean low over the path so I have to duck under or turn back. At one of these barrier trees Aki bursts forward to roll wildly in the trail. Distracted I rise up too quickly and discharge a bucket of snow onto my head. Some manages to fall between my jacket and shirt collars. If Aki finds this funny she doesn’t show it on her poodle poker face.

My goal is the troll woods with its legion of moss transformed trees. We turn back before there when we come to the recent tracks of a wolf crossing the trail. Back at the car I pull golf ball sized snow balls from Aki while watching another snow storm move over the glacier. Its blue ice glows beneath a thickening layer of snow.

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