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Revenge of the Beaver: Lundy Canyon Road Blocked by Felled Aspen

See my Nikon mirrorless wishlist.

Castor canadensis Swimming

I just know that beaver has it out for me—I’m lucky it didn’t come chew on my tires while I slept!

The night before I had taken some pictures, which apparently irked off this beaver, the revenge being a blocked road the next morning. Wait—maybe it wanted more pictures—dunno.

Read on for how I cleared the road and got out of Lundy Canyon.

 

 

Too bad iPhone 7 Plus image quality is so poor, even downsampled 2:1 linearly, lacking detail, massive artifacts from compression that make B&W conversion usually unteneble, blown whites and pinned blacks. When it’s good (sometimes and only with panoramas), it’s quite good but most of the time it’s manure. I should have used the Sony RX100 or a proper camera but the iPhone sure is convenient and I had hatcheting to do. I marvel at how not a single real camera has a panorama mode 1/10 as good as the iPhone.

Beaver-felled aspen tree blocking Lundy Canyon road
f1.8 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 80; 2018-11-02 12:29:13
[location “Lundy Canyon”, altitude 8100 ft / 2469 m, 45°F / 7°C, "beaver blocks the road", altitude 8111 ft / 2472 m]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

[low-res image for bot]

Too heavy to lift, at least with a bum knee.

Beaver-felled aspen tree blocking Lundy Canyon Road
f1.8 @ 1/1250 sec, ISO 20; 2018-11-03 09:47:48
[location “Lundy Canyon”, altitude 8113 ft / 2473 m, 45°F / 7°C, panorama, altitude 8100 ft / 2469 m, "Beaver-cut aspen blocking road"]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

[low-res image for bot]

Hatchet or saw? I’m glad I carry both but for this job the saw binds up too easily and green wood fills the teeth. My long-honed teenager wood splitting/chopping axe skills are encoded in muscle memory, though a hatchet is a far slower tool than a full-length axe. Thirteen minutes and some sweat later, the aspen tree trunk is ready to break in two with a little applied force. I bet the beaver was watching and thinking “gotta get me one of those”!

Hatchet or saw: the hatchet did the job
f1.8 @ 1/380 sec, ISO 20; 2018-11-03 10:00:15
[location “Lundy Canyon”, altitude 8100 ft / 2469 m, 45°F / 7°C, altitude 8092 ft / 2466 m, "hatcheted most of the way through"]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

[low-res image for bot]

The road is now clear, the top half of the aspen tree thrown to the pond side, ready for beaver dining.

Hatchet success: aspen tree on Lundy Canyon Road cut in two, road cleared with top half of aspen tree thrown off the road
f1.8 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 40; 2018-11-03 10:04:16
[location “Lundy Canyon”, altitude 8100 ft / 2469 m, 45°F / 7°C, altitude 8095 ft / 2467 m, "hatcheted tree in half", panorama]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

[low-res image for bot]

Dang, it’s a destructive species, but a beaver’s gotta eat.

Wholesale destruction of small aspen trees by beaver
f1.8 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 50; 2018-11-03 10:13:14
[location “Lundy Canyon”, altitude 8100 ft / 2469 m, 45°F / 7°C, "beaver sliced off almost all young aspen", altitude 8076 ft / 2462 m]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

[low-res image for bot]

Not content with five already-downed aspen trees totally unused, and also with killing the two largest aspen on the entire Lundy Canyon road, this beaver has a total of seven aspen trees felled, all lying unused, five below plus sure death for the two large aspen above at right. I both admire and despise the industriousness of the beaver, as this lovely area will soon be denuded of populous tremuloides. Someone with a 0.22 rifle and a scope could take out the beaver at dusk quite easily, though it will not be me. BTW, those lopped-off knee-high aspen shown above are dangerous in that they could disembowel someone hiking through the uneven terrain of a meadow—one slip means a spear into the guts or leg—caution advised.

Tree-felling to make an Oregonian logger proud — two nights of teeth
f1.8 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 40; 2018-11-03 09:47:25
[location “Lundy Canyon”, altitude 8100 ft / 2469 m, 45°F / 7°C, "swath of detruction", altitude 8109 ft / 2472 m]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

[low-res image for bot]
Beaver Swimming in Beaver Pond
f9 @ 1/60 sec handheld IS=off, ISO 400; 2014-08-10 17:54:06
[location “Uppermost Lundy Canyon beaver pond”, altitude 8700 ft / 2652 m, 55°F / 12°C]
NIKON D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar

[low-res image for bot]

One thing Castor canadensis do create, at least for some years, is trout habitat, though these trout were not taken from beaver ponds. Eight of these brook trout, the largest quite mature and old at 9 inches, make a meal. The limit for most trout is five per day, but there are five “bonus” trout for Brook Trout in the Eastern Sierra (because they overpopulate so easily), so any five trout of any kind plus 5 “brookies”. The Brook Trout is actually a char, Salvelinus fontinalis related to Lake Trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic Char.

Brook Trout for dinner
f1.8 @ 1/3700 sec, ISO 20; 2018-11-04 15:44:25
[location “Maul Lake”, altitude 10223 ft / 3116 m, 50°F / 10°C, "took"]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

[low-res image for bot]

Glenn K writes:

Always get a signed photo release before posting beaver photos!

DIGLLOYD: I’ll use a carrot and an aspen stick.

Jason W writes:

I really like your beaver post. Well done having two tools for the job.

Have you ever done a post on your survival gear + tools you carry in the Sprinter? I have a bunch of stuff always in my jeep and would like to know what your setup is.

DIGLLOYD: it would make a good article, but in brief I carry the following in my Mercedes Sprinter, and more. It all stows way quite easily and out of the way:

  • About 10 days of dehydrated means for intermittent or emergency use, plus fresh food and drinks which I replenish at intervals.
  • Minimum of six gallons of potable water at all times, usually 12 gallons or so. Typically I freeze eight (8) one gallon Crystal Geyser bottles and use them as ice for my cooler, refreezing them at night if/when the temperature allows while also keeping on hand 4 to 6 gallons unfrozen for daily use. Since I do not have a shower or shitter in the van, I carry no water tanks; these are incompatible with my usage in freezing weather and raise the cost and complexity and hassles considerably.
  • Fill up the 48.5 gallon diesel fuel tank when going into a remote area and/or late in the season, so that I could with care stay comfortable for a week by idling for heat and power for two hours a day (2.4 gallons X 2 hours per day X 7 days = 34 gallons).
  • Dual industrial grade carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Half a dozen down jackets of various weights, down pants, 5 or 6 wool hoodies, several pairs of wool pants, a variety of hats (wool beanies, thick wool hats, sun hats), various weights of gloves, 3 or 4 pairs of boots of various weights, disposable heat packs, etc. Plus various other clothing of course. Everything I might need for conditions from 110°F down to -10°F.
  • Dual 2000W DC to AC power inverters so if one were to fail I have a spare and/or for temporary 3000 watt loads (e.g., a space heater plus another kilowatt for an electric kettle or induction plate).
  • In winter months, a foldable snow shovel and insulated winter calf-length boots.
  • Reflectix shielding for windows and van exterior for extreme heat or cold.
  • Hatchet and foldable wood saw (both double as defensive weapons without the hassles of a gun).
  • Heavy duty towing strap, full size spare tire, wrenches, screwdriver, allen wrenches, air compressor.
  • Charging cables, spare fuses, various spare batteries, spare lights, 1500W space heater.

I almost always hike alone, so I take extra precautions in cold months in particular:

  • Water purifier (warm months only). One or two 1-liter Evian water bottles (if carring a purifier, I start empty to save weight, and take only one bottle).
  • Emergency sleep sack.
  • Dual flashlights with dual batteries, headlamp.
  • Matches, knife, a few Tylenol or similar, spare contact lenses, sunglasses.
  • Sometimes spare socks and spare base layer (in case base layer gets soaked with sweat).
  • More food than I think I will eat that day, high calorie food in cold weather (nuts, 100% cacao, energy gels, etc).
  • Rain/wind shell and rain/wind pants.
  • Water resistant down jacket and when really cold additional layers like a wool jacket to go over the down and/or another lighter down jacket. Down pant when super cold.
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