It’s already 10 degrees Celsius and the sun’s been up for hours. Good thing I can hike in these ski boots, little dog. Aki, who knows she will get in a walk one way or another, doesn’t care what kind of boots I pull on this morning. After securing her in the car and fasten skis and poles on the roof top carrier, I drive out to Mendenhall Lake. A lot of snow covered the shore two days ago. Maybe we can still ski along the beach.
The warm, sunny weather has drawn people away from their home shelters. Cars fill the Fred Meyers parking lot. More head out Glacier Highway to drive thirty miles to the end of the road system and return. I expect to find the lake shore crowded with people escaping quarantine. But the Skater’s Cabin lot is empty as is the lake. This is almost as surprising as trail conditions. The temperature dropped below freezing last night long enough for a thick crust to form on the beach snow.
The little dog trots behind as I sneak onto the lake ice to skirt a bare spot in the beach. It holds, even offers good skiing. I think, for a few seconds, of leaving the safe, solid shore for the freedom offered on the lake ice. We could ski all the way to the glacier free from people and virus worries—establishing a social distance of six kilometers rather than the two meters we must struggle to maintain at the grocery store. But breaking through the lake ice far from help could create a social distance I could not close without becoming a ghost.
We return to shore and ski again to the river where mallards sunbathe on the snowy banks. Some fly further downstream when we approach. Most just ignore the little dog and I. The even ignore the martial sound of an avalanche crashing down the flank of Bullard Mountain.