Risk

“Why risk it Aki?” She who is better equipped to transit slick surfaces appears to agree so we turn our backs on a chance to visit the old gold bearing Glory Hole and head for home. We have been taking risks since we left the house this morning. Now I am wondering why.

After watching Everton easily defeat Blackpool in a FA cup match we headed out the front door to find black ice overing the street. I have ice grippers but decide to risk a fall so I won’t have to take them off when we reach dry pavement. Our warm overcast weather continues but we can still see the Mt. Juneau summit. That changes as we drop down into the Evergreen Bowl and start up a very icy trail running along Gold Creek. A snow storm will catch up before we reach home.

Even with ice grippers I slip a bit. The trail becomes more treacherous after passing through a grove of alders and starts its climb to the flume trail.  On this steep serpent of ice the grippers fail but I pull myself upward by grabbing trail side willows. If one breaks I could be in trouble.

I don’t have time to question the wisdom of this adventure until we reach the Flume. The snow covering it offers a safer tread but we have to pass under several avalanche chutes  to gain the Perseverance trail.  It should be safe now that the snow on Mr. Juneau has stabilized a bit. Still, I am a bit unnerved looking up at chutes still choked with recent avalanches. Here I envy Aki’s ability to stay in the here and now.

We join the Perseverance trail just before it becomes a long ledge cut into a steep hillside. One slip here and I’d slide for more than 100 feet.  The stretch is covered with high mounds of snow left by the tail end of an avalanche that must have flow over the trail to the valley below. It snapped off the tops of trees growing on the downhill slope. I think of turning around here until seeing the prints of a child’s boots on the trail. Rather than judge the child’s parent I question my caution and continue past the ledge to where the trail becomes a road winding up the creek valley.

Below the creek runs free but across is another chute overloaded by very recent avalanches. Here the trail widens into a gravel road covered with hard crusted snow. The downhill slope drops hundreds of feet to the creek and I am reminded of the young man who fell to his death down the slope a few years ago. Still we move on. I want to see Ebner Falls crashing down into the creek and then reach the place where the valley opens up.

I made this trip in winter once with two friends. One turned back at this spot rather than cross a section of ice covered trail. I pushed on with the other friend and we were awarded with the sight of a wolf flashing across the trail ahead of us. Today, after reaching an area where my ice grippers fail, I turn back. The promise of more beauty or even a wolf is not worth the risk. 

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