Aki porpoises through the five-inch layer of new snow covering Mendenhall Lake. She doesn’t smile, like some dogs, but her body language—ears flapping, front legs extended—conveys joy. Me too, I think. The lake extends for miles from Skater’s Cabin to the glacier. The handful of skiers already on the ice are lost in dissipating fog. I can almost believe that we are the first to use a new borne land.
Usually the weather or crowds punish us when we ski on the lake. Cold, often assisted by wind, numbs my hand and face, fogs my glasses. On sunny, windless days, the ski trails can fill up like ride lines at Disneyland. But, when we start today’s ski, it 32 degrees. No wind makes it feel colder or banishes the fog that glistens in morning sun. The temperature climbs as we approach the glacier. The snow starts clumping on my skis. The fog fades.
In an hour, after they have enjoyed a good Saturday sleep in and a fry up breakfast, Juneauites will fill up the parking spaces near the campground and skater’s cabin. There will be squeals and shouts of appreciation. There will be lots of selfies. None of them will capture my little dog flying over five inches of still-crisp snow.