I heard their snuffling behind me before I saw them. Two golden retrievers, each wearing a cowboy-style bandana instead of a collar, surprise Aki while she is sniffing some pee mail. It makes me wonder about my little dog’s hearing. I could hear the retrievers even over the sound of my skis.
The campground trail, where Aki and I are traveling, is covered with firm snow. After she plays with the two goldens, the poodle-mix tears ahead. She manages to run in one of the set ski tracks. She disappears around the corner, leaving me to wonder how she manages not to trip up in the narrow track.
This is not one of my favorite places to visit. With its groomed trails that wind through a thick spruce forest, it feels more like an athletic field than a wild place. I can glimpse the river when the trees thin out. Each time I do I want to step out of my skis and walk down the river bank where a brace of mergansers or a nervous deer might be seen. But the glide and slide rhythm of skiing is addictive. And Aki is always just ahead, drawn down the trail by lingering smells.