Spend 35 winters in Alaska and you stop taking good weather for granted. When, as it did this morning, the sun floods the narrows with light, Seamus, the weather ikon, tells you it will be a pleasant, windless morning with the temperature sidling around in the upper 20‘s, and you know of a recently set ski track offering a view of mountains and glacier; you eat a quick breakfast and drive out to that track in a car carrying Aki, skiers, and their skis. Tarry and risk punishment by our fickle weather.
Looking up from the trailhead, you see long tendrils of frozen spindrift fly from the tops of nearby peaks. No wind blows on you when step into your skis and drop into the classic track that winds through protecting trees. It’s colder here, close to the glacier, a cold that soon numbs your hands. Skiing warms them up but they cool off quickly each time you stop to watch morning light throw shadows on the snow. New snow plumes form on peaks to the south. You push on to finish the ski before the wind blasts down the slopes to blow you home.
You finish the circuit, should drive home, but new snow covers the glacial lake and someone had set a track on it that points toward the exposed glacier. Slipping onto the ice, for just a minute, you find yourself sliding toward that river of ice, hoping that when the wind comes, it will flow down the glacier and push you when you turn toward the car.