I should have donned snowshoes, not ice grippers for this trip to Gastineau Meadows. We climb a well-packed trail, our feet eighteen inches below the snow level of the meadow. Aki doesn’t seem to mind having her field of view so restricted. She never leaps out of the easy channel, just dashes up the narrow trail and back, stopping only to sniff and pee.
It was twenty-two degrees F. when I made morning coffee and twenty-eight when we left Chicken Ridge. After such a night of cold, the water-rich meadow snow should have a rock hard crust strong enough to support my weight. That would grant us the freedom to wander into the least-visited corners of the meadow—the ones offering surprising mountain views. But my boots sink at least a foot when I try leaving the packed trail. So we stay trail-bound. At least I am tall enough to see the mountains standing like giants over the stunted meadow trees, the little dog, and me.