|Beaver dam close to home.|
We motored down the Unalakleet River, toward North River, a smaller tributary with an abundance of sloughs filled with beaver dams. Nuka, our two-year-old chocolate lab, was along for the ride, and excitedly put her front paws on the top rail of the boat and leaned into the wind, nose high in the air searching for animal scents, ears flapping comedically. On our ride toward the North, we were surrounded by birds, Merganser ducks took flight, staying low and parallel to the boat, their startling red heads leading the way. A Bald eagle Soared overhead and an Osprey crossed our path and found a resting place in the top of a pine. It was a gray-blue day with the crispness that fall brings.
|Beaver Slip & Slide|
Our boat motor is jet propelled, no prop. It makes it easier to navigate the shallow waters of the rivers where we live in western Alaska. However, a jet is extremely hard to maneuver at low speeds because the propulsion is a result of water being forced in a rearward direction, and, like Newton’s Third Law of Motion, “every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” so, as thrust out the rear decreases, so does the directional control, or steering maneuverability. All of this is to say that slowly motoring in and out of a shallow, log-laden slough can be quite the challenge.
My main job on our trapping expedition was to secure the boat, hand my husband the traps as he needed them, and keep Nuka out of the way. The rusty traps were stiff, but Gregg’s strong hands were used to them and made short work of setting them in the water and securing them with sticks found nearby.
Reflecting on the life of a beaver, I realize it's not far off from my own. They require both trees and water for survival, are monogomous, and thrive in the winter. Also, they continue to grow throughout their lives, with women being larger than men. Having an amazing ability to change their environent to suit their needs, these remarkable creatures actually have a positive impact on climate change. In addition, they are quite resilient, rebuilding a destroyed home, known as a lodge, overnight. Finally, the English term "to beaver" means to work hard.
After setting eight traps in four different sloughs, it was time to head home to a late lunch of leftover Caribou Jalapeno Cheese hot dogs. Beavers are very active this time of year and we expect we’ll have beavers in most, if not all, of the traps by tomorrow afternoon, when it’ll be time for another adventure.