Last week, my husband and I made our way to beautiful Talkeetna, Alaska. We had a wonderful train ride getting there and had the privilege of getting to see Mount McKinley in its full glory while we were there.
My husband and I love canoeing, and there are lots of lakes just outside of Talkeetna. So, we decided we wanted to go boating. There is a restaurant in town who will rent you a boat. Well, really they rent you the life jackets and paddle and lend you a key. The boats are already in the lake. You just have to be able to find them. The woman at the restaurant assured us that it would be an easy one-and-a-half mile hike to the boats, but as soon as we started walking and saw a mile post, we realized she was very wrong and that it was actually going to be three miles.
So, we did what any reasonable person would do and hitchhiked. Now don’t freak out. Hitchhiking is a normal form of transportation in Alaska where public transit doesn’t exist. And I was with my husband, and we had canoe paddles. We sort of assumed that, given the paddles, no one would pick us up, but in good old-fashioned Alaskan style, we were picked up within a few minutes.
The man didn’t really have a back seat. He had folded it down to make a palate for his two very excitable dogs. The dogs were lovely, but I got the feeling the man liked his dogs much more than he liked people. For someone who picked up strangers on the side of the road, he really didn’t seem to want company. But he brought us to the lake. And we found the canoes. Someone had already “borrowed one” and hadn’t/couldn’t lock it back, so we just took that one. We paddled around and then did a short portage to the second lake.
After being out there for a few minutes, we heard a loud smack. I thought we had found the Lochness Monster. My husband thought we had found a snorkeler. But then we noticed, floating in thedistance, a beaver. He was staring at us, calling us toward him like an elusive, furry siren. We paddled forward, and he smacked his tail again and dove. He surfaced a ways off, and while we wanted to follow him, we didn’t want him to jump into the boat and sever our femoral arteries. So we paddled quickly away.
When we went to turn in the key, paddles, life vests, and the hunting knife we found in the bottom of the boat, we told the restaurant lady about the beaver attack, and she told us that the beaver was trying to lure us away from his home, using himself as bait to protect his lodge. Besides the obvious problem of his not needing a home if we had killed him, it was a very interesting insight into the secret life of an angry beaver.