by Ben Natusch
Beaverfest is one of my favorite events each year. It is an opportunity to get out on a different river and do some early fall creeking after paddling the Dryway for most of the summer. It is also a great river for introducing paddlers to creek boating. This year Sam Gaughan, Katelyn Green and I headed out. On Saturday, we ran the Taylorville section of the Beaver. It was Katelyn’s first time creeking and was a new river for Sam and me. We had a lot of fun and hiked back up to run many of the drops a second time. The second rapid on Taylorville is a big slide with a hole at the bottom. We scouted it and Katelyn was feeling a little nervous and wasn’t sure if she was going to run it or not. Sam and I went and ran it while Katelyn watched still trying to make up her mind. After watching Sam and me run it along with several other boaters, Katelyn decided that she wanted to run it too. We talked about the line a little more and then all headed back to the top of the rapid to run it again. I went through first with Katelyn close behind. She stuck the line and had the biggest grin on her face at the bottom. This was easily the biggest rapid she had ever run and she did a great job. We all carried back up to run it a few more times. On one lap, Sam wasn’t able to avoid the hole and got beat down pretty hard. He ended up swimming out of the hole. He was pretty bummed about his swim and decided that he needed to run it again so he hiked back up and styled the line. We paddled the rest of the Taylorville Section hiking back up to run several of the rapids again. After reaching the takeout we decided that we still had enough time left for another lap so we headed back to the putin and ran it all again.
The next day Sam was feeling a little sick and decided not to boat. Katelyn and I ran Moshier talking about various techniques for running waterfalls and more creeking technique. It was a really fun run and Katelyn definitely stepped it up again running several big rapids and really pushing her limits. It was really fun to watch her pushing her comfort zone on more challenging water. We scouted Moshier Falls a long Class V rapid at the end of the Moshier Section but Katelyn wasn’t feeling it. She decided that it was a little too big of a step up for her and walked it. It is a really fun rapid so I ran both boats through. After finishing the Moshier Section, we headed over to the Eagle Section to run some big slides. We met up with Sean Rose on the way over and invited him to run it with us. This was a big step up for both Sean and Katelyn so we took our time scouting the various slides and talking about the lines and some of the necessary techniques. It is hard to walk around rapids on this section so it ends up being somewhat of an all or nothing kind of run. Katelyn felt a little uncomfortable with the second slide so she decided to save this section for next year. Sean was a little nervous but after talking through each rapid he felt like he could handle it and decided to run it. We headed up to the top of the run to get geared up. We put on and he followed me down through each rapid, styling every one. He did a great job and made the rapids look easy. We headed back up towards the putin to meet up with the rest of our group and to watch some other boaters run the drops. After watching a few more Sean and I decided to do another lap so we carried the boats back up and ran everything again. Once again Sean made it look easy and styled every drop. After the second lap we paddled down to the takeout.
Sam still wasn’t feeling very well and was having some trouble breathing so we decided to head to a hospital to get him checked out. Turns out he had some water in his left lung and a separated collarbone resulting from getting worked in the hole on Taylorville. He was fine and just needed a few days and some meds to recover. All in all, it was a really exciting trip. My favorite part was watching the younger paddlers really step it up and start running some bigger rapids. I really enjoyed working with them to help them develop the skills and the safety awareness that is necessary on creeks. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Beaverfest but hopefully we’ll be able to get them on some of the local creeks first.