The promise of sunshine after weeks of wet gray skies enticed me to Gasteneau Meadow. I found the promise first fulfilled in a shallow pool of melt water formed on an icy road. Sunshine and blue skies reflected from the pool, a scene made more dramatic by the pool’s gray, icy frame. Aki posed herself in the reflection, drawn by some smelly clue of an animal’s prior passage.
Sunshine never touched our faces or the surrounding snow for we visited after noon when the sun leaves Douglas Island. It did flood the snow covered line of mountains across the channel.
After finding easy going on the main Gasteneau Meadows trail I took a snowshoe trail deeper into the meadow where we could see the peaks unimpeded by the diminutive pines that struggle in poor soil. While the snow supported us, it couldn’t do the same for a deer. Its hooves cut deep gashes while moving across the meadow that morning. How odd for me to move freely when an animal born to the place could not. The deer trail paralleled that of the snowshoers but for a long time did not cross it. The deer should have found easier going by moving onto the snow packed by passing men. Later, down a section of the trail that gets less use by man, I found evidence that the deer finally moved onto the snowshoe path. Here, his hooves only sunk a few inches with every step. Does each passing person leave behind a smell? Does it build until wild things would rather struggle in soft snow than walk through it?