Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Great Swamp

Many of the grey bare trees will remain so, their roots dead from the flooding of beaver dams, their purpose altered and hidden by our prejudices of lumberjack stories and manicured parks.  Second life, new life, rebirth, the dead trees become home and food and habitat to more wildlife than any park or managed forest could dream of.

beaver scent mound
There is a general chatter, a background of songbirds, but the woodpecker stands out, a high speed tapping from deeper back in the trees, flicker calls, or as one overflying woodpecker demonstrates, flicker-like calls.  The slow hammer strikes of a single pileated come from way back out of sight.

The water is high and I glide over the low beaver dams and deadfall trees with low morning sun at my back and not another person anywhere in sight or sound.  I easily end run the only beaver dam that is higher than the water level.  I think about how the artistry of the twisted dead trees is enviable.

I spot a red tailed hawk, a couple red shouldered hawks, dozens of wood ducks, some Canada geese, no great blue herons, which are usually around, and three mink at three different places during the trip.

I paddle the full distance today, 6-1/2 miles up, 6-1/2 miles down.  At the turn around I chat with two Boy Scout leaders scouting for for an upcoming trip.  The Parks guy shows up.  He complains about the beaver...had this discussion with him a couple years ago.... he doesn't get it.  I let it go.  There are no obstructions with the high water, except the usual log jam at has been there for years.

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