beaver slide

The path made by beaver lurching between home waters and the trees they skin for food is called a beaver slide. When cross-country travelers slog through willow thickets or alder bogs, they may find a few steps of easy going at this slick open run where beaver have pulled their woody plunder toward the pond. Before the settlement era in the West, fur trappers followed the beaver sign of dams, whittled trees, and beaver-slide boulevards through the tangle as deep into the mountains as those plush webfoots pioneered. After settlement, western ranchers invented a tall comb of pine poles, a ramp up which they slid loose hay, which then fell to form a haystack. They called this implement, big as a house, a beaver slide. We also use the phrase beaver slide to name ridges, cliffs, and basins throughout the West when they have the scooped-out look of the beaver’s work. One Beaver Slide is a basin in Montana’s Big Horn County, another a cliff near Meeteetse, Wyoming

Kim Stafford