DemoFest and some Western Mass Creeking

DemoFest and some Western Mass Creeking

by Ben Natusch

Demofest is one of my favorite events each year.  It is a great opportunity to connect with the local boating community and help everyone work to improve their skills while supporting many of the manufactures that Zoar represents.  Due to release times, the mornings generally take place on flatwater and/or fish flow river levels.  This allows us to focus on strokes, maneuvers, freestyle and more.  In the afternoon we have the release on both the Fife Brook Section of the Deerfield and on the Dryway.  Our afternoon clinics take advantage of the releases and focus on river running, rescue and river maneuvers and freestyle. 

Over the weekend I taught a variety of clinics on flatwater, the Dryway and Fife Brook.  There were many great moments that stood out for me.  Some of these included taking students down some of my favorite boof lines on the Dryway, seeing students hit their first stern squirts, seeing draws really click for some students trying to smooth out their paddling.  I think my favorite moment of this year’s Demofest was seeing Sarah run the Death Slot for the first time.  After scouting it and looking at some of the various options, she decided to fire up the death slot.  It was really great watching her run some new lines and take her boating to the next level. 

On Sunday, it was pouring rain, and while it kept some of the crowds away, it didn’t hurt the enthusiasm of the instructors or participants at all.  Since pouring rain often means the creeks will be up, there was some extra excitement with the instructors on Sunday.  We were all hopeful of getting out on one of the local creeks after work.  After finishing up clinics for the day, breaking down the event site, and putting away all of the boats and gear, we loaded up our gear and headed out to the creeks.  While the West Branch of the Deerfield is our go-to after work creek run, we weren’t sure what the level was.  We were also short on time since the event clean up had taken longer than the wrap up on an average day of instruction.  Because of these factors, we decided that our best bet was the Cold River.  The Cold is a fun class III-IV creek that flows into the Deerfield River.  It is very continuous with lots of fun little boofs.  It was on the lower side which makes the boofs fun but keeps most of the holes pretty small.  Cold River falls is the largest rapid.  During most descents of Cold River since Hurricane Irene, there have been trees across the rapid that made it dangerous and often impossible to run.  Recently all of the trees were cut out making the rapid runnable.  After scouting the rapid nobody was feeling the top section.  I wanted a little more water to smooth out the line a bit.  The bottom part of the drop had some holes but looked fun.  After setting safety, I hopped in my Mamba and fired it up.  It was fun and went smoothly. 

It was great to see everyone and get back out on the creeks.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing everyone again at Deerfield Riverfest.  Hopefully we’ll get some more rain so we can get back out on the creeks soon!  Hopefully we’ll see you all at Riverfest.

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