This account of the Beaverfest was written and paddled by Mark Hrubant
Friday August 29th, noon… I call the caretaker at Soft Maple campground & ask if he will hold a site for me as I am driving up from Bingo. While enroute to Croghan I learned there will be six of us camping for the Beaverfest weekend. At 4PM I arrive & the caretaker held a site! During our discussion I learn there are only two left; as only campsites #5 & #8 remain, I pay the man for both campsites. (Note for the future: the RV sites are $15 a night for up to 8 people. If you camp in the tent area, the fee is $15 per person per night!)
I scout the campsites, #8 is more isolated & backs-up into the woods…but the entire site is on a slope… Hmmm, tough choices… I start setting-up my luxury two-structure campsite palace on the level site #5.
Ed & Ross arrive just as I complete tent setup & my first beer. We’re psyched for the weekend & shortly head upstream to scout the dry Eagle & Moshier sections. The gates to access the Eagle section are padlocked; no scouting. Back in the car, we drive to the Moshier takeout. The trail on the south side of the creek permits easy access. There is water flowing, & we note where all the key drops are. With the low flow it’s not too impressive, just lots of verticality, jumbled rock, & pinning potential. The idea of a NFTL run is hatched! Yes, tomorrow after the T-ville section shuts down at 2PM, we’ll have the entire afternoon!! So back to the palace for beer & snacks; we’ve got a brilliant, aggressive plan for Saturday!
Saturday dawns, we emerge from our respective lodges & we’re eager like beavers to get going. We arrive at the T-ville put in & park 100 feet from the gate; not too many people… yet. As we unload & greet fellow paddlers, Rex & Dylan arrive. After shuttling cars, we gear-up & carry to the water. The tranquility of the river is being transformed as feverish boaters arrive.
Ed & I stop to talk to the Brookfield Power employee who is managing the flow. Brookfield allows 65 cfs through the gates 24/7. On the release days, 2 hours prior to the “release” they ramp-up to 200 cfs, then at the time of the release an additional 200 cfs is let go. We all deduce the ramp-up is for the fish & air-breathing river critters to accommodate to the higher flow. At the end of the day, they “step-down” the flow in the same manner. We thank the guy for allowing us to play for the weekend!
As we run laps on the Beaverator & Great White Slide, the pool gains more kayakers & OC1s. The carnage at the Beaverator hole draws a few spectators, but the Slide draws a gallery. I see a grey-haired couple sitting in lawn chairs nestled at the edge of the trees halfway down the slide; they smile each time I carry-up. The hole at the base of the Slide is a magnet for boats. I see a pink helmet in a pink OC1 go into the hole sideways, after a few seconds alternating window shading & side surfing, the pink helmeted lass washes out. The pink tub longs for a partner so a black OC1 joins-in. The hole says two’s a crowd so the girlie tub washes out while the stealth-colored manly tub goes for another beatdown. The gallery goes wild!!!
Ahh, such is day one of the annual Beaverfest!!
The rest of our eclectic group (minus one) find us having too much fun, so we each do one last run of the slide before heading to Dogleg. For me the total is 3 clean laps of Beaverator, including the left boof line, & 5 runs of the Slide with one combat roll when the hole-magnet tripped my stern. Ed, Ross, Dylan, Rex… I lost count of their laps & successes. Rex, in his playboat makes his last slide memorable with a direct hit into the hole. All we see are 2, 3, 4, 5 ends as he is cartwheeled in the hole. We all wonder how Rex is going to escape! A moment later, Rex & the Kingpin are separated… the Beaver has bitten!!
We quickly dispatch Dogleg without scouting. I run the left side & with a powerful boof stroke at the rock pourover launch myself over the rock spine, & into the eddy. Wow! The first time I’ve done that!
There’s not much of a line at Mindscrambler, so we plan on doing laps. Three clean runs later, I decide to save energy for the rest of the day (AND our NFTL run of Moshier Falls!).
The crew take various lines at slide at Powerline, we boof the “boof”, & play a bit at the final play hole before pulling out & readying for the next run. Here we finally meet up with our final team member Mike S whom we’ve been looking for all day.
We load boats & drive up for run #2! Being feverish, my memory is impaired if we were 6 or 4 for run #2… Dylan? & Rex?
As we carry to the water, one can easily discern that Beaver Fever has infected nearly all whom have touched the flowing water. Those whom have been least immersed are animated; those whom have seen & felt the depths of the waters are more withdrawn… such a strange affliction!
Another intimate stroking-by of Beaverator leads to 3 laps of the Slide. Each one of us are absorbed by the Beaver mantra to varying degrees. When the line of boats disappears for Dogleg, we paddle across & through the offset holes & diagonal waves to the pool below. Mindscrambler beckons us to toy with it. After two clean runs its time to continue. We power through Powerline with ease, arriving at the takeout near 2PM.
What of our NFTL run of Moshier Falls that afternoon you ask????? I must restate: “Those whom have been least immersed are energetic & animated; those whom have seen & felt the depths of the Beaver’s waters are more lethargic & withdrawn…”
Needless to say, back at the palace, beer, tortilla chips, & homemade salsa are the prescription for Beaver Fever and by evening we’re all pumped for the next big day on the Moshier & Eagle. (That is except for Ed, as he exclaimed that a paper cut he sustained earlier in the week is dramatically impacting his roll. I offer to doctor the offending paper cut but he declines; Ed states he prefers to self-medicate & grabs another beer.)
Sunday dawned dark grey & rainy; prime conditions to motivate you to run the Class V Moshier & Eagle. Ed, Ross, Dylan, & Rex all pack their camping gear as they plan to extricate themselves from Beavervillle this afternoon. We arrive early at the put in & snag great parking spots. As we gear up, the flow of boaters increase & soon we hear the siren announcing the impending release. (By now Ed is sporting rings of duct-tape to suppress the paper cut’s pain.) We join the slow movement towards the launch point & soon are looking up towards the spillway, wondering if we’ll run it sometime…(ok we’re feverish). As we near the first falls, we split, some go right for the slide/boof & some head left for laps of the falls. Me, I work on my line & boof stroke on the falls. One lackluster boof stroke has me land on my right edge, a hard brace helps but doesn’t support me in the aerated water. I go over, wait a couple seconds to clear the frothy water & roll up. My other three laps are clean. Watching fellow boaters, the number of missed boofs, missed lines (too right), & missed rolls are alarming. I help chase a number of disassociated people, paddles, & boats.
As the fun-beavers (aka fun-hogs) increase in number, we gather & head towards the second falls. After a quick scout with Rex & Mike, I take point & go first. I clean the falls & navigate the choss afterwards to the pool below. Securing a perfect viewpoint in the eddy, I can see the entire falls & runout. The carnage is amazing after the falls & the ensuing runout, at least 5 swimmers, a dozen flips, a broken paddle, & one betty-boater whose head struck a rock so hard you could hear the thunk.
Ahh, such is day two of the annual Beaverfest!!
The 6 of us gather forces & move downriver. Being this is only my second year, the Moshier looks familiar but I can’t recall details of what’s coming up. All of us appreciate Rex & Dylan’s mentoring as we float our way downstream without incident.
We note the stack of boats as we pull into the eddy on river right just above Moshier Falls. Here each of us makes our decision to portage or run. I portage my boat, thinking that if I feel in the zone after scouting the lines, I’ll carry back up. I notice that Ed, Ross, Dylan, Rex, & Mike all grab their gear for the portage. Hmmm… no testosterone-filled challenges for the team today…
I grab my camera & GoPro to document the lines of Moshier Falls. Over time, my recollection of scouting the Falls last year had minimized the Fall’s volume, speed, size, consequences, & vertical drop. I want to run this, but I realize it is at the bleeding edge of my boating skills & mindset. I might be able to survive a run, but I’d rather run it under control with style. I’m satisfied with my judgment call & continue documenting. Next year I’ll evaluate it again.
Ross finds me & states that most of the others have paddled across to the takeout. We find Mike, & depart the intimidating Moshier Falls. Next year…
As we change out of wet gear, the severity of Moshier Falls is discussed; we’re all satisfied with our decision to portage.
Ed/Ross & Rex/Dylan each head home while Mike & I head to the Eagle to watch the King of New York (KONY) race.
The Eagle is in full KONY swing by the time we arrive; racers yelling & passing the mortals wherever they can in the narrow run. Mike comes across some friends who are racing, they say the Eagle is easy, “All it takes is a strong right-side brace! Get in & do it!” Instead of gearing-up, we drink our beer & watch.
As evening approaches, the clouds begin to break. While at the Soft Maple campground that night, we hear the partying in the tent camping area continuing well past 11PM.
We awaken refreshed on Monday, a National Holiday and the last day of Beaverfest!
Mike & I get to the Taylorville put in about 9:30 & it is already getting congested. While Mike shuttles, I do laps on Beaverator & the Slide with Kalon & the Byrnes. Today the B-fest definitely has a party atmosphere!!! One guy is riding an inflatable pool ring down the Slide to great cheers, while another has an inflatable 4 foot tall suit-wearing manikin hugging him!! What a hilarious sight!!
While Mike & I are floating in the pool discussing that this will be our last run of the Slide, we see a kayaker head directly into the Beaverator hole. Many boaters have punched the hole & a few have had minor beatdowns, but this one is different. The boater windowshades a few times, side surfs, gets windowshaded again, & again, & again… now the inflatable 4 foot tall suit-wearing manikin boater decides to join in the melee. Now two boats, 2 people & an inflatable 4 foot tall suit-wearing manikin are in the hole being churned. Manikin boater & his hugging inflatable 4 foot tall suit-wearing manikin escape from the hole intact. The first victim is now separated from his boat & both are being repeatable gnawed-on by the Beaverator. Ropes are being thrown, 1, 2, 3, the boat is spit out…4, 5, 6, times… the hole is quiet… am arm surfaces 15 yards downstream from the hole & just 4 yards in front of me… and sinks out of sight. All boaters in the pool are now searching for a visual… a helmet surfaces face down with a limp body. A kayaker grabs the boater’s PFD & loses grip, solo shredder grabs the body’s PFD & hangs on. As he pulls the limp body on board it gasps for air… in the following seconds the kayaker takes several more breaths… the Dragon Beaver just missed capturing its prey… As the victim slowly regained consciousness & waived-off people, the party atmosphere becomes more somber… for awhile.
Ahh, such is day three of the annual Beaverfest!!
As Mike & I could no longer be of assistance, we slid the Slide & headed for Dogleg. Deciding to scout Dogleg for the first time this weekend versus just read n’ run, I thought I’d continue with the left line… a powerful boof at the pourover to get me over the rock spine then re-enter the main flow below… it has worked flawlessly two times before! Well the “third times a charm” rule turned out to be very charming! I boofed too early & hit a rock on shore, getting my stern swung so I am now running the right side backwards!! I rudder myself around obstacles and get sucked into the hole halfway down. I sidesurf, catch my breath, then try to escape. I inadvertently do my best 360 spin ever in the Burn & come out of the hole backwards! I rudder myself through the waves & holes into the pool below Mindscrambler… whew!
Proud of myself for running Dogleg backwards, I make 4 runs of Mindscrambler, with the last one being my worst one of the weekend, resulting in a combat roll in the pool.
It’s getting late in the day, the number of boaters has greatly diminished; time to move on!
We navigate Powerline cleanly & work our way to the takeout.
It’s 1:38! The release ends in 22 minutes!
Earlier in the day Mike & I entertained thoughts of heading up to the Eagle for the afternoon release. As we talk, both of us are tired after three days of paddling & quickly agree to pack it up.
Physically tired, mentally tired… ahh, the satisfaction of a gratifying Beaverfest!
This account of the Beaverfest was written and paddled by Mark Hrubant