Deep in what the calendar names winter, I walk without grippers on a trail normally treacherous with ice. (New England, please return our snow). Aki digs and sniffs along the trail’s edges where spring like conditions have released odors recently hidden under snow. We will never walk in the sun today but it shoots its rays on the wheat colored meadow across the river and along the entire Chilkat Mountain Range to the west. The trail leads to one of Juneau’s few sandy beaches where today gulls feed in the shallows, sometimes crossing over the white reflection of a beautiful mountain with the ugly name of Mt. Golub. Anywhere in the lower 48, people would brag about having the pyramid shaped peak in their backyard. Here, only the climbers mention it.
On the large tidal meadow we cross after turning away from Mr. Golub, I almost step in bear scat: pale grey stuff shot through with pieces of dried grass. Somebody must be up and about to see if it really is spring. Later we find a collection of frozen sundews, open jaws filled with snow melt. Still later, three feet up a trailside spruce a red squirrel appears to wait for Aki. My little dog ignores the squirrel until it chatters a challenge. When Aki dashes over the squirrel climbs onto the stub of a branch and just stares us down. Nothing today, is as it should be.