It is 14 degrees F. when Aki and I leave home. Dressed as she is in an insulated wrapper, she should be fine on our planned walk across the glacial moraine. The temperature drops as we approach the trailhead. It’s 11 degrees when we pass the airport and 10 when we reach the Catholic Church. Like a launch countdown, the temperature continues to drop: 10, 9. 8, 7, 6, 5, and finally to four by the time I park the car.
The little dog squeaks and squeals like she usually does when I open the car door. She leaps out and onto the snow-covered pavement. I have to trot quickly to catch up with her on the trail. As I fasten the chin strap on my mock-fur hat, Aki moves into deep snow and starts the peeing ceremony. She is still circling as I move down the trail, confident that she will soon catchup.
Fifty meters later I turn around, expecting to see Aki just behind me. The trail is empty. I backtrack and find her at the place where she peed. She holds a front paw suspended in the air, drops it to the trail and raises a rear paw. Then she hunches her back, like she does when I am about to pick her up, I lift her into my arms.
I carry the chilled old dog to our car and take a solo walk to the now-frozen Mendenhall Lake. While I take a picture of the surrounding mountains, a father and son approach a stream diminished by the cold to a trickle. Both are wearing rubber boots. The dad splashes across but the son hesitates. He is already cold and doesn’t want to be colder. The dad offers to give him a piggyback ride back to the heated visitor’s center after he crosses the stream. The boy does, then climbs onto his father’s back.