by Jim Sullivan
This weekend I (Katelyn Green) headed up to the Beaver River near Lowville, New York. I joined Ben and Sam in some good old fall creekin’. We hit up Taylorville on Saturday, which was the easiest section of the three.
When we arrived at Taylorville, we suited up and walked to the put-in. I was in a new boat and was feeling nervous as we scouted the first rapid. I watched as a bunch of boaters screwed up their lines and ended up in some fairly retentive holes, which added to my anxiety about running it. With the whole creeking scene being new to me, I was feeling very uneasy and intimidated. The entry rapid wasn’t even difficult, but I felt like a small fish in a big pond. Finally, after watching some carnage and spotting my line, we got in our boats and headed down. I caught the eddies no problem and stuck my line no problem. However, I was still shaking from the sudden rush of adrenaline, which I wouldn’t even notice later in the day. Even though I had done things much harder, the new situation got me off balance. After the entry rapid, I felt much better and thought I was ready for more.
The next rapid was a three hundred foot slide into a decently sized hole. As soon as I climbed the rocks and saw the size of the slide, I immediately went into fight or flight mode. My logical brain said flight, and thought I had already made up my mind about not running it. We scouted the rapid for several minutes and I even watched Ben and Sam run through it. I was still pretty adamant about walking it, but with some coaxing from Ben and Sam, I had a change of heart and put on a “Screw it” attitude. I also shut off my logical brain, cuz, who needs that anyway? You're kayaking! I said to myself, “What’s the worst that can happen? You get some cuts and bruises, maybe you swim?” I knew that the slide was within my skill level, and the only thing that was getting in the way was my own head. After a lot of thought, I decided to do it. And boy, I didn’t regret it one bit. It was literally the most terrifying thing I have ever done. But, as I came over the lip of the slide and saw the water being thrown into the air, I had a moment of intense focus and calmness, and then the jarring motion as I slid over the rock ledges. I stuck my line and charged hard left into the eddy, narrowly missing the big hole. No regrets a permanent grin on my face (I'm still recovering). I had just run something that I swore I wouldn’t do ten minutes earlier, yet ended up running it five times. The rest of the day followed similarly, with my face being dragged through a slot, (with a full face helmet on, thankfully) and then rolling up with the entire contents of your sinuses on your face, and I even ran my first drop, a six footer. The day ended spectacularly as I watched Sam chug a bootie beer for his swim and filmed it from multiple camera angles.
Sunday followed, and that meant it was time to really get my boof on. Sam swallowed too much water on his swim and really hurt his shoulder so he didn’t join us. The Moshier section began with a ten footer, which I ran at least five times as well. I had been dreaming about coming off the top of that drop all week, every single part, to the placement of my paddle, to my bow coming up as I stomped the boof. My vision came true, I improved every time, and my bow stayed practically dry every run. Ben and I scouted meticulously and I learned the ins and outs of creeking safely, like not forgetting your throwbag…! The second waterfall was roughly the same height with a rock outcropping about fifteen feet from the foot of the drop, so you pretty much stopped your momentum by slamming into them. We ran this once and then headed down for a few miles, paddling some read and run class II+/III’s. The last rapid of the day was an intense, continuous class V section called Moshier Falls. Ben and I scouted it thoroughly. This time, I had no spit, unlike the slide, so I knew that it wasn’t a good decision for me to run it. Always trust your spit. Instead, I watched Ben run it once in his boat, and then in mine. I was a little disappointed, but I didn’t regret my decision like I would have if I had walked the slide. I realized that Moshier Falls was above my experience level and vowed to do it next year. I knew that I had limited experience on creeks and difficult IV’s to begin with, so I knew I made the right decision. I had already met all my goals for the weekend by doing the rest of Moshier and all of Taylorville. After Ben and friend Sean Rose ran the Mosier Falls, we headed over to the Eagle section. Eagle consisted of four class V drops one right after another. Sean, Ben and I scouted each one and I felt okay about the first slide, but the thought of a swim scared me with several drops following a wet exit. Again, I was bummed about not being able to run the section with my friends, but there was a fine line between pushing yourself and going beyond your comfort zone. Only you know what you are capable of doing with anything. Certainly encouragement is always helpful, but the final decision should always be up to YOU. I look forward to doing a lot more creeking this fall! See you on the river. Peace, Katelyn