Information posted on a government sign made Aki and I cut short our planned visit to the moraine. It warned of the presence of a black bear sow with two cubs. The bear had lost its patience with dogs and their humans. No one had been hurt, but I didn’t want to put the bear in danger of assassination if it attacked my little dog or I. Instead we head over to the glacier visitor’s center and walk toward Nugget Falls. This turned out to be a good decision.
The glacier this time of year is usually a place to be avoided. Industrial tourism buses rumble to and fro, picking up and dropping off cruise ship tourists. Seasonable government employees work crowd control. You can still see the big river of ice but somehow it seems diminished when viewed from within a crowd. This morning it is too early for the buses or the government minders. Even the wind is absent. Without it to ruffle the water, Mendenhall Lake is a giant mirror. Arctic terns temporality shatter the glacier’s reflection when they slam into the lake’s surface after salmon smolt.
I’m surprised to see the sharp tailed birds. Last week a glacial dam broke, raising the lake to flood stage. In years past, similar floods have covered the tern’s sandy nesting area. But this morning, a half-a-dozen birds fish for young in the lake. The chitty conversation of the terns can be heard over the Nugget Falls’ roar, robin’s sweet song, and the off-key whistle of a territorial thrush.