Wanting to sneak in at least one more trip to the glacier before the cruise ship hordes inundate its trails, I drive Aki out to the Mendenhall Visitor Center parking lot. The water level in the lake has dropped enough to allow the little dog and I to walk along the shore to Nugget Falls. But we soon find that the Forest Service has blocked off the beach to protect nesting sites of the income arctic terns. Aki, whose little paws were already muddy with beach clay, is happy to reverse our way back to the regular trail.
The ice river meanders out of a layer of low clouds that hides the Mendenhall Towers but not Mt. McGinnis or Mt. Stroller White. Alder trees on the mountains’ slopes, bare except for their swollen, white buds, could be a convention of ghosts. One bald eagle circles a forest meadow on the far side of the lake. Otherwise the sky below the clouds is empty of obvious life.
At the beginning of the hike a constant breeze made the lake surface look like dun colored corduroy. It dies out by the time we reach the falls, allowing the lake to form a mirror for the mountains, falls and glacier.