I am nervous. Aki just charged ahead and out of sight. Usually she stays close on our walks. I wouldn’t worry if we were not using a snow machine trail to reach the Dan Mollar bowl. One could smash the little dog flat without the driver ever seeing her.
I almost wish I had a snow machine today. The sun is shinning, the temperature is moderate, and deep, firm snow covers all the bumps. The same conditions favor Aki, which is why she keeps charging away from me down the trail.
Aki’s exuberance doesn’t last. She throws on the brakes where the Dan Mollar trail splits off from the Treadwell Ditch trail. Knowing that she won’t hold out after she can no longer see me, I push on up the trail. One hundred meters later I reach a meadow spotted with shore pines. Aki is behind, frozen in place at the top of a rise just at the edge of my view shed. She gives me her “are you crazy” look.
The meadow opens up after I start back up the trail and I can see Mounts Juneau and Roberts rising above the shore pines. A hundred meters later, Aki slips by me and takes up her usual station several meters ahead of foot hardy human.
On the return trip, Aki hesitates at the beginning of the 200-meter stretch where she exhibited so much caution on our way up the trail. She hangs right by my side until we drop down onto the ditch trail. Then it is back to normal. Since it is too early for the bears to awake, I think she might have smelled the Douglas Island wolf pack. Sometimes I wonder if she sees ghosts.