Wondering if we can ski all the way to the river, I lead Aki past Skater’s Cabin and onto the still-snow-covered beach of Mendenhall Lake. The snow is softer than yesterday but still firm enough for skiing. Like yesterday, we have the place to ourselves.
Aki rolls in the snow and then plants her face in it. Holding a handful of the coarse-grained stuff is like holding a handful of cold sand. Crush it and you have an ice cube rather than a snow ball.
I ski parallel to yesterday’s tracks, surprised to see the tops of rocks poking up through them. On the way to the river, my skis break through a snow bridge over a narrow stream. Thanks to expanding bare spots along the river, I will have to carry my skis a longer distance than yesterday.
We pass divots in the snow formed by light, fallen objects rather than rocks. Sun heated things leaves, feathers, and tangles of tree lichen have melted the snow where they came to rest. I remember visit I made this time of year to Grayling on the Alaskan portion of the Yukon River. An Athabaskan man was scattering wood stove ash onto a bulldozer sized patch of snow. When I asked him why, he dug down until he struck the yellow-colored cab of a small Caterpillar earth mover.