I enter here under obligation like someone attending a friend’s acting debut. Last night’s wind storm drained all the excitement from the moraine leaving it to recover under stubborn gray clouds. In this awkward time of transition no snow brightens the forest, no fresh growth shows in the willows and alders. Not even the watercourses bring drama.
Expecting floods trails we find a dry path all the way to the beaver village. We pass mallards and other local ducks paired up and showing reluctance to move from their chosen nesting ground. Approaching the village we find newly attacked spruce trees, gnawed more than halfway through by beavers. It’s as if they were preparing a barrier to protect the series of their dams beyond. They were too late. Government workers or volunteers have disassembled the upper beaver dam and breached the lower one with deep wide notch.
Aki and I walk on recently submerged ground then drop into the now dry bottom of a deep channel the beavers cut into the mud to offer safe underwater access to the lower dam. They lost this spring campaign but I suspect they will rebuild the dams in time to catch the fall floods.
We are neutrals in this government versus beaver battle. While neither of us wants to join the fight, Aki does enjoy the dry passage offered by man’s recent victory and I fear what would happen if the beavers flood this part of the forest and turn it into the kind of watery wasteland we pass through on the way to Mendenhall Lake. We head there next and discover that the water level has dropped enough to allow safe passage over a long serpentine beaver dam. From here to the Lake a series of beaver dams have formed a stairway of ponds. The trails takes up along the seldom traveled shores of the ponds.
This deep into the woods we only hear the song of nesting song birds and trees rubbed rhythmically together by a building wind storm. Aki moves impatiently toward a glimmer of light off water coming through the trees. It’s another pond opening up as we approach the shore. Too remote to be wasted on nesting ducks, the pond promises a view of transit swans or geese gathering strength before continuing north. That would be good theatre after the emotional rise and fall accompanying the trip here. Unfortunately, someone forgot to cue the swans.