How Bad Do They Smell?

Aki rarely gets that look on her face—big eyes, pulled back ears and lips—the one I get after smelling something just dead. We had been cruising down the Basin Road trestle bridge. She had just finished a game of tag with two Labradors. I was excited after watching mountain goats foraging on the lower slopes of Mt. Juneau. We were both pleased to have snuck in a hike up the Perseverance Trail before an expected windstorm.  It will bring 75 mile-an-hour gusts, turning the Gold Creek valley into a place where exposed flesh will freeze in thirty minutes. 

After throwing on the brakes and looking horrified, Aki dropped onto the surface of the trestle bridge and moved backwards, one paw at a time. Then she stood normally, except for her eyes. They continued to stare at the horrifying spot. When she finally agreed to move, she walked as far away from the spot as she could without rubbing the bridge railing.            

 I remembered the time Aki and I had stumbled on a crowd of mountain goats under this very portion of the trestle. It was sunrise. We were trying to get in a walk before the wind rose with the sun. A sixty-mile-an-hour slammed us when we were only fifty feet from the house. We had to retreat to a more protected trail that ran along the bottom of the Gold Creek Valley. Just before we crossed the creek, Aki barked. Above us, a dozen mountain goats huddled together beneath the trestle.         

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