By the time we reached Toad River in Northern British Columbia on the Alaska Highway, we were ready to call it a day. Peggy and I had stopped at the lodge on a previous trip for lunch. The restaurant claims to have the largest collection of baseball caps in the world. If you make the trip, be sure to stop by and look up at the 7,000 on the ceiling.
As to how Toad River got its name, the residents claimed it was originally Towed River dating from the days when the Alaska Highway was being built in the 1940s and heavy equipment had to be ferried across the river. Wikipedia claims the name came from big toads living next to the water. Peggy and I heard large toads croaking that night. Maybe it was our imagination.
We backed into our campground and immediately discovered a beaver lodge was built in the pond directly behind our van. Closer inspection revealed busy beavers buzzing about. You’ve undoubtedly heard the comment, “busy as a beaver.” It means really busy and there is a reason for its use. Beavers work hard. There are trees to bite down, lodges and dams to be built, food to gather, territories to protect, and children to raise.
Families are important. Mom and dad mate for life and both parents take care of the kids. Teenagers hang around for a year or two and help babysit. Everyone chips in on dam and lodge building.
Pop very carefully marks the family property. A lot of work has gone into improvements. No trespassing signs consist of small piles of debris dredged up from underwater, deposited on land, and then marked by anal gland secretions. I watched a beaver perform this task when I was backpacking in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. He backed up to the pile, raised his tail, and let go. Invading beavers that cross over property lines are quickly run out of town. It can get nasty.
Beavers are known for modifying the landscape by building dams across small creeks and then building their homes of lodges in the lakes that are created. No other animal, with the exception of man, has such an impact on the environment. And beavers don’t have to file EIRs, obtain building permits, or worry about zoning laws. Lodges, or homes, consist of one or two rooms with underwater entrances.
Ducks, frogs, and trout love the riparian habitats created by beavers. Farmers are less pleased with their activities and frequently tear down the dams. New ones are promptly built overnight. We watched our busy beavers for an hour or so. They were mainly busy with stuffing their tummies. Have another bite of bark. Yum.
Next Blog: The sign forest of Watson Lake.