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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Flood peak.

As we approached the bridge over Sturgeon Creek, we came across a military convoy of heavy trucks all emblazoned with "Student Driver" tags. We followed them west on Saskatchewan avenue until Hamilton where they stopped. It looked to us like they were going to deploy, but when the half dozen soldiers who got out all jumped back in their trucks and drove away down Hamilton, we got out and started walking. I suppose they can't afford radios? The term "sneaker net" comes to mind. I know it's not a perfect fit, but it does describe what happened.

We walked quite some way past the barricaded road before we got anywhere near water. Our first sign, was a large puddle on the street that lay directly upon a sewer drain hole. Water would normally flow down into the sewer, but in this spot the drain must have been below the waterline, because it was not going anywhere.

We continued to walk towards the creek and eventually came to some yellow caution tape strung across the road. It was now strung across the flowing water of the creek, which looked now like a large fast flowing river.

We were not alone. There were about 20 people watching the spectacle from various vantage points along either shore and also from atop the railway bridge that runs just north of Saskatchewan avenue.

We climbed up to the bridge for an overlook of the space between the two bridges. The water was boiling and swirling, with debris popping up and disappearing constantly. One thing that sparked my imagination was a life preserver of the sort that is usually kept in a clear doored box on the railings of many bridges in Winnipeg. I couldn't help myself from thinking how a person would have a hell of a time if they ended up in the water between the bridges.

We climbed down the rail ballast and skirted around the water on the road, for a look from a different angle. I was setting up my tripod for a shot of the water coming over the road when a large splash happened right beside us. At first I thought that it was a fish. Then I thought that it might have been someone throwing something into the water. That idea didn't sit well with me, as my equipment was perilously close to the splash, and I feared it might be damaged. Then we saw the culprit. A large beaver was swimming towards the flow of water coming across the road! I have heard that the sound of running water is irresistible to beavers. They have a built in instinct to dam the
water that is making the noise. He must have been about 2 feet from my camera when he noticed we were there.

I suppose our beaver got a little nervous and turned around and headed downstream, so of course I decided I needed to get a shot of him. We followed in hot pursuit.

We finally caught up to her beside a floating pad of chewed branches in the middle of the creek. There she sat, while I shot some frames, and the next thing we knew, she was joined by two more beavers.

Next we headed to Ness avenue to see how far up the water had come from our previous visit. It had risen considerably! We could no longer walk across the bridge. While the depth of water was only a foot or two, the current would have certainly knocked us off our feet and swept us into the creek.

The light was fading fast, so we didn't hang around for very long. We headed down to Grant's Old Mill for some sunset photos, which I think turned out pretty well.

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