Winter is loosing its grip on Chicken Ridge. Spring doesn’t assault his position. It’s autumn, the stubborn dude, who, in an effort to roll back the clock, invited in a Central Pacific storm to Southeast Alaska. It took several days of warming to turn our snowy beauty to a slushy bother. Some snow still brightens the spruce and alders but much of the overburden has already fallen to the ground. I’d stay inside today if not for the little dog. She charges out of the house, drawn by the smells released in the snowmelt. We wander up Basin Road, cross the old wooden trestle bridge and plod up the old mine trail. I lead Aki onto an almost hidden trail that parallels Gold Creek. Sharp tracks of a small deer pock the path. Snow must have driven it down the mountain to the protection of the woods. “Hang in there little doe,” I say in Aki’s direction, “Only two more days until the end of hunting season.” The little dog ignores me as she sniffs the tracks.