I can’t believe we are back on the ice cave trail, slipping along the edge of an open crevasse. Because of a recent cold streak, I thought the path would be safe. But I hadn’t given full credit to the power of winter sun.
We had no trouble crossing the ice of Mendenhall Lake. One of Aki’s favorite human friends joined us. The easy trail allowed us to enjoy watching the glacier grow in size as we approached it. Snow still covered the rocky peninsula that serves as a kittiwake rookery each summer. I searched it without success for ptarmigan feeding on willow catkins.
A large slab of ice formed from snowmelt covered the trail just above the lake. Instead of the easy walking we enjoyed on our last visit, we had to scrabble up and over ice to leave the lake. The trail improved after that so we could appreciate the jumble of pyramid-shapes that form the glacier’s icefall.
We stop to check out a minor ice cave but It looked like a muddy hole so we didn’t go in. We pushed on to the second cave, which is lined with aquamarine ice. To get there we have to pass through a section of icy trail and steep, snow-covered chutes.
Aki watches her humans slip and slide down the trail, like the nursery maid she thinks herself to be. A golden retriever joins us just before we reach the cave. The big dog distracts Aki for a few seconds. Then she is back on human duty until I pretzel my way through an ice labyrinth and disappear into the cave. Neither she nor the retriever followed me.