Thanks to the fog, Aki and I are alone on the Nugget Falls trail. One couple passed us when we were still near the visitor’s center, disappeared into the grey, reappeared and then melted away as they returned to the parking lot. Aki doesn’t enjoy the solitude brought by the thick blanket. She hunts for other people and dogs, sometimes roaming farther away than normal. But I have an advantage over the little dog. I can imagine the glacier and Mendenhall Towers that rise above the ice. We both can hear the falls but my mind sees its braided courses plunge into the lake. It can also see mountain goats, white fur tinged yellow, feeding above the falls. This requires more faith, given the fickleness of wild animals.
When the fog lift I can see the glacier’s foot, the falls, and three pure white dots that my telephone lens transforms into mountain goats. An adult and kid feed without consideration of the little dog or I. The other adult looks down on us before he too feeds. They know neither dog nor man can climb their steep hillside.
Recently, someone had a picnic dinner at the base of the falls and left the Styrofoam tray that once held his pork tenderloins. I know his initials, W.C., because he also dropped his Alaska Airlines boarding pass for a flight from Seattle. On a sunny day I might get angry while carrying W.C.’s garbage back to the visitor’s center trash can and imagine him as a littering yob who eats unhealthy food in the presence of goat and glacier. But walking through country made indistinct by low clouds, it is easier on my heart to assume that wind had ripped away W.C.’s trash.