The forest seems empty. It is certainly quiet. It is also dark. The snow that once brightened the trail has been made dull by an icy crust. No frost feathers circle the limbs of the spruce or decorate trailside alders. I struggle through a thicket of devil’s club to reach the bank of Eagle River. Sun still shines on the river and the tangle of uprooted trees that clutters up a nearby sand bar. But a thick screen of alders offers only a filtered view.
I want to push on, march through the woods to reach a muskeg meadow dotted with stunted spruce trees. There the afternoon sunshine should be turning frost feathers into prisms. But Aki is a hundred meters behind me with three of her other humans. I slow down until I can hear her yip when someone throws the Frisbee for her to retrieve.
The sun is about to drop behind a wall of trees when we reach the little meadow. It halos a small collection of spruce before it disappears. We won’t walk in sun again today. But sunlight will be shining full on the mouth of Eagle River, Lynn Canal, and the Chilkat Mountains when we reach the lower river.