I’d forgotten how winter retreats out-the-road during November thaws. Here on Chicken Ridge in Downtown Juneau, rain and warmer temperatures did away with most of the snow days ago. After driving beyond mile 20 Glacier Highway, we found the snow still thick on the ground. I’d should have brought the skis with me to Eagle Beach.
Aki and I make do with boots and paws, thanks in part to a trail set by earlier visitors. Less than a mile up the trail, we swing north onto a a snow covered trail tracked only by a wolf, then later a bear then a deer. With a foot of snow covering this wide trail through trees bending under the weight of more white stuff, I have expect to hear carolers instead of the unseen woodpecker hammering his way toward food. Without any evidence of other men, in woods deep enough to serve a Russian tale of trolls, I should have been disconcerted by the fresh wolf tracks. Aki liked to trot over them, happy to let her big cousin break trail through the snow. Since she, all of 9 pounds soaking wet, showed no fear, I didn’t either.
When the trail crosses a still running stream, I spot an American dipper bobbing about on a windfall. These tough little guys think nothing of hunting in the winter water. After the stream we find where the wolf left our trail, his tracks replaced by those of a deer crossing into a meadow where fog softened edges of bordering spruce. Later we found fog’s grey blanket covering Lynn Canal breakers that rhythmically struck out-shore sandbars.