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Old 09-23-2017, 08:58 PM   #1
lisainthewoods
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What is the best technique for those damn beaver dams?

Today my husband and I enjoyed a nice paddle up Raymond brook off South Lake. A never paddled brook, well at least it didn't show any recent signs of paddlers. In the past when we encountered damn dams, there had been obvious sign from previous paddlers. Matted grass and obvious trails. Not today, so I wondered how most people figure the best way over. At the third damn dam we said " uncle", as we were only about 300 yards from the mouth. So we opted to explore the lake a little more. It was a really amazing fall day! All in all we had a damn great day!
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Old 09-23-2017, 09:50 PM   #2
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My preference is to come up alongside the dam, get out onto the dam, lift the canoe over, get back in and paddle away. Sometimes this is not possible due to other tree parts being in the way, and then I look for a reasonably solid bit of bank that's close to the dam and try to land there. I remember crossing 5 dams and a log on the inlet to Salmon Lake north of Stillwater, and then doing them again on the way back a few hours later. It was some slow going, but as Stripperguy says, if the dams weren't there there wouldn't be enough water to float the canoe.
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Old 09-23-2017, 10:24 PM   #3
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That is so true. I really do admire beavers they are amazing creatures. They create so much habitat for many creatures. PBS has a great documentary on them in their Nature series. So I realise the damn dams are a good thing. I just don't want to trip and fall in when I'm faced with them !!!
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Old 09-24-2017, 10:07 AM   #4
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Lisa,
I assume you're in a tandem canoe?
Easiest for the bow person to slide back in the hull, to allow the canoe to ride up onto the dam. From there, both paddlers can hop onto the dam from opposite sides of the boat, both paddlers then scooting the canoe to the other side of the dam (upstream or down, no matter). Be sure to leave the stern wedged in place on the dam.
Stern paddler then straddles the hull to stabilize it, while bow paddler climbs back toward their seat. If possible, the bow paddler then returns the favor and stabilizes the boat while the stern paddler climbs in.
All in all, a coordinated effort that takes about 45 seconds or so, depending on how tall the dam is.
Really tall dams (over 2-1/2 to 3 ft) need to be approached from the side if going upstream.

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Old 09-24-2017, 01:03 PM   #5
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My partner and I keep switching positions. Bow-person leans back just before running aground on a low place on the dam. Bow hops out and pulls the canoe up as much as possible. Now since the canoe is resting on the dam it is easy for the stern-person to walk/crawl over gear to the bow. The former bow-person continues to pull the canoe over the test of the dam and then hopping into the strern position. This works great for plastic canoes less for fiberglass, and ok for aluminum. Obviously not so good for wood or canvas.
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Old 09-24-2017, 08:42 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info that sound like it would work well for a canoe , we have sit in single person kayaks. We have had them for years and although we both have gotten really good at getting in and out, it can be a little unnerving thinking you could end up in that mucky beaver pond in an instant!
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Old 09-25-2017, 01:25 PM   #7
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Beaver dams and kayaks

Lots of beaver dams on the Jessup and Kunjumuk rivers. I found I was picking up more leeches than usual this year in my sandals from stirring up the mud getting in\out of my kayak. When I paddled all the way to the bridge on the Jessup, it looked like no one had climbed over or gone around the barriers in ages so I was making my own path dragging my 14' Pungo through the tall grass.
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisainthewoods View Post
Thanks for the info that sound like it would work well for a canoe , we have sit in single person kayaks. We have had them for years and although we both have gotten really good at getting in and out, it can be a little unnerving thinking you could end up in that mucky beaver pond in an instant!
My Darling Bride paddled a sit in kayak for years...her biggest challenge was the in and out at beaver dams and deadfalls. The best solution we found was for me to go first, in my solo canoe, climb onto the dam, and then steady her exit and re-entry.
Now, if you both have sit in kayaks that becomes a bit of a logistical challenge.
You'll need to contact me at least a day in advance with your itinerary so I can meet you at each beaver dam and deadfall!!

Seriously, you'll likely need to pull alongside an obstruction, and use your paddle to brace from boat to whatever. Some kayaks have very snug fitting cockpits, some are larger and you can at least get your knees up from under the deck. MDB swamped her snug fitting kayak many times at beaver dams. Ultimately, that's half of the reason that MDB switched to a pack boat.
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Old 09-27-2017, 12:07 PM   #9
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Stay in the kayak technique:
This takes a bit of planning ahead, I really like my nice $$$ kayak paddle and do not use it as a pole or pry bar. I cut two 3 & 1/2 foot poles or limbs about an inch and a 1/4 in diameter. I paddle straight into the dam, stow my paddle and pole with my precut poles on both sides of the kayak in unison. Plastic kayaks are slippery enough that I can fairly easily "climb" 2 foot high dams. I have a 9 foot high volume WW kayak that I take week long trips in and even loaded I can climb the dams but is does take a bit more time. And the technique seems to work fine with my two place 14 foot kayak, but I’m usually padding with a child and that extra 55 lbs + camping gear does make it very difficult. The 14 footer has an open cockpit so it’s easy to hop out of and drag up and over leaving the grandchild in the boat.
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