Boxing Day: we drive out to Kusawa Lake. My beloved lake, Kusawa.

The joys of the lake for me include swimming, boating, floating, skating, to be in it/ on it or crossing the lake. I have even bicycled on it and now I walk on it. I have often sunbathed on its sandy beaches or hiked along the shore. I have seen the lake from the top of the surrounding mountains, which I reached on foot. I’ve never been farther down the lake than The Narrows, where the Primrose River flows into the lake, which means that I have only been in or on a fifth of the lake’s full length.

Earlier this winter, on Nov. 21, it was a stormy day; Whitehorse recorded 9 knot hurricane force wind gusts. We drove to the lake to be with the waves. I say, we, to ease my guilt for using up resources; I hardly ever drive to the lake alone. And the road is always a gamble, even though it has been cleared for the first part, seemingly by locals.

At Mendenhall Landing the river was still wide open and I heard people were canoeing it late into the season. We stop at the first campground to see if any otters are in the river.

Once when the river was frozen over up to the river bend to the north, I sat on a shoreline ice shelf and otters swam right up to me, playing and diving, looking at me with their old man faces lined with frozen whiskers.

No otters this time, although at the next stop, we did see a large flock of common goldeneyes. The water was choppy from the wind more than the current. The ducks flew up and took off when they spotted us on the high bank.

Along the road we noticed that one driver, of an obviously bigger vehicle than our jeep, had been driving the road and had driven into the round about lay-by at the mouth of the river. We followed the vehicle’s tracks in the frozen snowdrifts.

At last, we reached a place where the grandeur of the lake was spread out before us: a lake full of waves and innumerable white caps. Whitecaps were rolling into the river and crashing over the rocks on the shore. Sun shafts illuminated the spray that the wind blew up.

On Dec. 16, we drove out again and discovered that the whole road had been plowed by a government grader. The lake was frozen, not fit for skating, as, perhaps, all those waves froze into a rough surface.

And today, Boxing Day, the road is drivable all the way –  unlike most winters. Today our destination was to reach the high bank overlooking the lake. The lake is white, frozen with a layer of snow. The Takhini River is full of ice floes and farther downstream we see two lone common mergansers. The sun is shrouded in a dirty yellow-clouded sky, about to set behind the mountain. The steep mountain slopes rising out of the lake on either side block the sun early in the afternoon.