Walking where the moraine touches Mendenhall Lake, the little dog and I find a landscape newly trapped in ice. A sheet of it stretches over the lake to the glacier. Last summer’s ice bergs and shoreline rocks form islands in the translucent gray covering. Hoar frost gathers in deep boot prints in lake bottom recently exposed by dropping water levels. River pebbles appear to hide in steep sided holes formed when freezing water in the surrounding soil expanded. This pushed the soil up into canyon walls an inch higher than the pebbles. The little rocks appear to seek shelter from winter.
Along the slough we used last September to canoe to a berry picking patch, we find a bear print made just before the freeze. I can make out pad, toes and indentations made by the tips of claws. Brown bear? All summer the place is thick with the smaller black bears, drawn to the nearby salmon spawning stream but brown (grizzly) bears rarely visit. They prefer wilder places but a young one was seen last week roaming the moraine.
Not wanting to see how Aki would deal with a brown bear, I reverse direction and head back to the car. It’s time anyway. The sun finally crests Thunder Mountain so its rays can reach the upper glacier. This brings new beauty but also a rising wind chilled by its run over the ice field. On the way we visit a frost covered beaver dam, ice sculptures forming where water flows through a minor breach. Behind the dam, a glacier erratic mimics the beaver house in shape and placement.