Friday, August 14, 2009

Enjoying the break

I am still for the most part staying off my bike. I got out for a 30-mile ride the other day and felt Achilles pain toward the end. To tell you the truth, the pain's not even that bad. But my heel doesn't seem to hurt at all when I walk, and right now, I'm really enjoying the walking. For this super-short window of time between when the snow melts and falls again, so much new terrain opens up that it seems almost a shame to hold yourself to bikeable trails. In Juneau, if you really want to get out, you have to go where your bike can't.

Yesterday, my friend Abby and I headed up to the Douglas Island Ridge via the Dan Moller trail. Dan Moller is one of my favorite winter bike trails, well-used and often even groomed by snowmobiles. It's not so much a trail in the summer as it is a wooden staircase followed by spongy tundra.

Abby is a super-fast runner who can only drag herself down to my speed by schlepping around her 1-year-old son, Elias.

Even as the bushwhacking dragged on, Elias just slept or mumbled something or pointed to trees and rocks. I've never seen such a well-behaved baby. We hiked for three hours; he ate half a cracker, never fussed, and giggled when Abby said things like "look at all the pretty flowers." I told Abby, "You're in trouble. You've got an adventure kid on your hands."

Last night, I had a crazy dream where I was climbing the Mendenhall Glacier with ice axes and crampons as the glacier melted beneath me. As the ice sank I just kept climbing, frantically chipping at the wet ice as roaring streams of meltwater gushed down crevasses. It was one of those dreams that frustratingly had no resolution, so it lingered in my mind long after I woke up. So without ever really making a conscious decision to go there, I found myself out at the West Glacier Trail this morning, scouting the route to Mount McGinnis.

I walked for an hour and a half without breaking treeline. That is certainly a long, meandering trail, and hard to follow. On the way back, I lost the faint, rocky path and ended up on the ledge of a cliff the glacier had carved out millennia ago. Now the glacier is a shadow of what it once was, and noticeably shrinking every year. I'm still trying to figure out what that dream meant. Perhaps it doesn't have to mean anything.