Aki waits at the edge of a meadow covered with tan clumps of tough grass now bending to the north wind. She doesn’t want to dottle in the cold breeze. I wait too, for the sun to break from its cloud cover and add some color to this monotone landscape. We are about to cross the Gasteneau Meadow and then climb to the Treadwell Ditch trail.
The sun’s glow through clouds tells me that it will soon move behind the shoulder of Mt. Juneau, taking with it any hopes for light on the meadow. Accepting the inevitable I shoulder the camera and walk past Aki and onto the meadow where sharp angled ice partially obscure pond reflections of dying Bull Pines. Aki races ahead until the wind lifts her ears then breaks back to take shelter on the lee side of my legs. “We’ve got to toughen up for winter little dog.”
This week’s new snow still covers the top halves of Mounts Juneau, Sheep, and Jumbo, all appearing to rise at different compass points from the meadow, their beauty softened grey light. We move quickly up the meadow trail and climb into the protection of second growth woods. Soon we reach the 10 mile long treadwell ditch that immigrants dug by hand in 1888 to provide water for the the Treadwell gold mines. Washouts and invading plants have all but obscured it but you can still make out the railroad ties that once formed part of the ditch covering.
I want to walk to the Mount Jumbo trail and then drop down to the old Treadwell mine ruins but a washout has made one of the stream crossing too dangerous. We turn back to the car, ready to face the wind and the winter that will soon follow.