Aki, you are a mess. Gumball sized clumps of snow hang from all four of her legs. A couple of more cling to her chest. We are three quarters through a looping trail through a riverine forest. If I don’t do something, she is going to carry her snowy burden for at least another half-an-hour. I could pull off the snow balls but know that she would rather bite them off herself. Besides, she would assemble a similar collect in a few minutes of trotting behind the tails of my skis.
I could carry her the rest of the way to the car, holding my ski poles in one hand and the dog with the other. But I know from experience that she would squirm until I released her. As if to distract me, Aki buries her head in the soft snow, retrieves it, and shakes, making flakes fly in all directions.
A mile back, we cruised along Eagle River. Falling snow softened the reflections in the water of beached logs and forested hills across the river. I searched for seals, gulls, eagles, and ravens. They all seemed swallowed by the snow.
Now I’m skiing under the canopy of an old growth forest. Little snow makes it to the trail so it is easy going for dog and man. I expect Aki to take advantage of the firm trail to dash ahead. Instead she stays in may wake, keeping pace as we use a bridge to cross a salmon spawning stream and ski across a couple pocket meadows to the car.