The Big Brown Beaver by “The Dogg” (+Video)

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Big Brown Beaver

by: Bobby “The Dogg” Miller

The best paddling weekend of the year takes place on LaBrown Day weekend at the end of summer when the Beaver River has whitewater releases on three of its sections. The whitewater is superb and provides a wide range of difficulty levels that will be sure to please even the pickiest of creek connoisseurs! The Beaver has long been a Dogg favorite, having visited this river many times in the past 15 years. I could degenerate to low brow humor about loving the Beaver but, since I know that my readers are all gentlemen and proper ladies (and I’m a married man), I will leave that for a more sophomoric crowd. RIGHT!

Making up our intrepid crew for this trip were Bryon Dorr, Dave Kersey, Adam Rettig, and my step-son Bailey Masters. We slowly gathered our passengers at various stops with Adam being the last pickup in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Oddly enough, President Obama happened to be there at the Save-A-Lot waiting for us. He was up at Camp David for a little relaxation and just happened to be listening in on our private phone conversations. He heard that we were meeting close to where he was so he wanted to stop by and wish us a good trip. We thanked him for the gesture, I guess, and started our lengthy drive. We gradually headed north through the Amish country of Pennsylvania. I decided to stop by an Amish road side stand to pick up some milk to go with the cereal I had packed for the trip. When I found out that the milk the man sold me was unpasteurized, I became upset. I went to my car, grabbed my Louisville Slugger, and proceeded to smash every container of milk he had. But I digress.

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Back on the road, we made our way up into New York, stopping only for gasoline and to steal a cup of coffee from a local fundraiser that was raising money for their highschool. The goal was to make it close to the Racquette River, which is pretty far north. After several failed attempts to find free camping back in the woods, we settled for a campground near the river. My head finally hit the pillow around 4:30 in the morning and I slowly drifted off to sleep for a few hours.

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We were up at 8:30 and ready to go fire up some stout whitewater! The Racquette starts of with the biggest rapid of the day, Colton Falls, a series of ledges and slides dropping 50 feet, ending with a massive hole. It certainly is an intimidating way to start and many paddlers choose to skip this rapid in favor of a friendlier warmup. I slid into my Fluid Bazooka and grabbed my Accent Rogue paddle knowing that I had all the tools needed for a great run. They are both fantastic pieces of paddling equipment on their own, but in the proper hands they can be magic! In my first run, I started on the left and dropped off an 8 foot clapper before lining up nicely for an 8 foot boof off a horseshoe shaped ledge. I launched a SIKy, skying it out before heading down the slide. I got a little too far into the center on the slide so I knew I was going to have to blast through the hole. I timed my boof stroke to keep my bow up and went through with no problem. I carried back up to try a different line, approaching in the center. This was a faster option but it made it harder to line up for the boof. This time on the slide, I got far right and skipped right over the hole.

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Racquette put-in

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The Dogg drops into the bottom monster hole at Colton Falls

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The Dogg in race mode

The run continues with a couple Class 4 drops before we were out scouting the Narrows. This rapid necks down into a chute that slopes into a large hole on the left. The hole is punchable but the line most people take is on the right where a low volume channel heads to an 8 foot boof that lands you clear of the hole. I came down and stomped out a boof so massive the fans on the bank thought I was paddling a hover craft! Everyone else in my crew followed with sweet boofs of their own.

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The boof at the Narrows heard round the world by all the Dogg’s fans

We hopped out just downstream to take a look at The Tub, arguably the most difficult rapid on the run. It contains two 8 foot drops back to back, both having big holes, with the bottom hole having a massive low head dam-like back flow. The first ledge is broken and requires a late boof stroke to avoid going deep. Then, you need to square up and lift your bow to clear the hole. My first run went smoothly as I jumped both holes like they weren’t even there. I decided to carry up and run it a second time. I caught a great late boof off the first one, hardly making a splash, but ended up blowing my stroke on the second drop and got surfed. I was able to paddle out of the left side with no problem but I knew I had to do better than that come race time. The rest of the group decided to walk except for Dave Kersey who ran it with no problem.

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The Dogg drops into the Tub

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The Dogg preparing to boof the bottom hole at the Tub

The final rapid on the Racquette is called Particle Accelerator and is a long, steep, junky slide with currents swirling in all directions like a shark-carrying tornado! After a quick scout, I flew down the slide, but got pushed to the right against a rock wall. I shouldered off the wall and continued down the steepest part of the slide, cascading into the pool at the bottom. On my second run, I stayed in the center of the flow and skipping cleanly in to the pool. Bryon and Dave aced the drop while the others walked. We had one last Class 3-4 slide before we took out and walked back to the start for lap #2. I signed up for the race and downed several Energybits to give me the strength of 10 men! I ran clean lines through all of the rapids and came in 4th place in the short boat class. The rest of my group took a leisurely run during the race. I told them they could float on for a couple miles and I would hike back to the car and drive down to pick them up. I arrived at the takeout to a scene of Dave clutching his shoulder in agony and Adam smiling with a “just humped the neighbor’s dog” look on his face. Apparently, Dave hit the right wall in Particle Accelerator and did a double barrel roll, breaking his paddle and smashing his shoulder before resorting to hand relief. It never turns out well when you get in a fight with a rock. After all, a rock feels no pain and an island never cries! What? Who says stuff like that! Adam had no such harrowing tale of mayhem, bloodshed, and salvation, he had simply flipped in the pool at the bottom of Particle Accelerator and couldn’t roll. Either way, there were bootie beers to drink and confessions to make.

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The Dogg getting pushed a bit right at the top of Particle Accelerator

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The crew hiking up the Raquette for another run

We packed up and headed to the Moose, which was running at a low but fun level. The run starts out with a sweet 30 foot drop called Fowlersville Falls that normally has multiple lines you can take. However, at this low flow, there pretty much was only one route with enough water to run. Adam, being adventurous and wanting to seize the carpe, decided to follow me because you only get one chance to run a rapid blind! I used my laser pointer to show him where to be in the approach slide and then we fired it up! It was so sweet that we carried up to run it again. This time, Bailey, who had scouted, decided to join us so we lined up to run Blue Angel style! Adam took the lead but, unfortunately forgot the line. He ran the approach and then headed straight over the middle of the drop, where there was a thin flow heading toward a pool where there is normally a big hole. Bailey followed and got turned sideways, flipping as he entered the pool. We carried up and made one more sweet run of the rapid before heading downstream. Most of the rapids on the Moose channelize nicely so that they were still very fun. We found SIK boofs on the left side of Funnel and Agers Falls and a fast chute at Double Drop. Bailey and Adam got flipped by an odd curler at the top of Double Drop and each ran the main part upside down. They both rolled but not before taking a few shots to the noggin. We started running out of light at Agers so we took out there to go get food and set up camp. I must say that the Moose at low water was great. I haven’t been that pleasantly surprised since the time I woke up after surgery in a state of delirium and realized that I am married to a beautiful woman!

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Adam at the bottom of Fowlersville Falls as The Dogg drops in and Bailey spends some time in the hole

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The Dogg running the FAR left line at Agers Falls

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The next day, we headed to the creme de la creme of the Beaver River, the Moshier section. We had two more paddlers joining us on this day: Fluid team paddler Scott Martin and Becky Heinlein, Dave’s girlfriend, both came out to enjoy the one day each year this section runs. The Moshier section starts off with the dam spillway that drops 70-80 feet over a channel of sharp rocks in a series of three falls and cascades stacked on top of each other. I made the first descent of the bottom 2/3 of the rapid 15 years ago but, in recent times, people have been running it from the top. It is definitely intimidating but, hey, there’s way more important things to worry about. Y2K, shark attacks, lead paint, Dakota Fanning, small pox, Woodstock, moonshot, Watergate, punk rock, rock n rollers, cola wars, I can’t take this anymore! Huh? What the hell am I saying! This is hands down the best rapid in the region and is in all honesty, the main reason that I make the trek to the Beaver River each year! It definitely passes the acid test for stout rapids! Pure gold!

After socializing with several of my friends who were scouting, I got in my boat and prepared to get SIK! To have a successful run, you can’t give anything less than the whole nine yards! What does that mean?! I timed a good boof stroke off the first 15 footer, keeping my bow up to avoid the sharp rocks in the landing. From here, I worked my way to the center for the next 15 foot cascade and then went roaring down the remaining steep slide where I jogged slightly right to avoid a piton rock hurling water 10 feet in the air! Marshall! I was fired up and didn’t want to wait another year to run this drop so I headed back up to the top for another SIK run!

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The Dogg stylin the upper part of the Moshier Spillway

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The Dogg finding a path through the chaos on the lower Moshier Spillway

We moved on downstream to the first 12 foot falls. This falls is super friendly and can be run many different ways. After many boofs and freewheels, we started to head downstream. Some of the people in my group wanted to scout the next 8-10 foot drop. I scoffed at the idea and went ahead and booked over the drop. I forgot where I needed to be and ended up falling into a horseshoe shaped part of the falls! I went deep and flipped. When I went to roll, I couldn’t because I was under the pounding water of the falls. I failed another roll attempt and started to worry that I would have to swim! Luckily, I was finally able to roll up and paddled out of the grips of the falls while all of my friends stood by watching and laughing. I hadn’t taken a beating like that since I decided to yell at a group of surprisingly feisty old ladies during a fender bender that we had! Everyone else, being familiar with the line from their scout, aced the drop.

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Dogg re-wheel

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Adam at boof school

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Bailey comin in hot

We had a pleasant run the rest of the way, finishing with a super fun rapid called Moshier Falls. I decided to make three runs of the rapid, the launch pad in the third drop alone made the walk back up worth it. However, there was still the Eagle section to run so we headed out. The takeout area was a cluster and people weren’t cooperating and taking turns on the narrow road. Didn’t anyone watch Sesame Street as a kid! I finally decided to park my car a short distance from the boats to save time while this mess got sorted out. Tempers were getting ready to flare, someone was going to fly off the handle! What? Humans can’t fly! With the situation getting a few degrees short of heated, Bryon and I started to argue about where to park the car but we quickly realized how silly this was once the traffic cleared out. We buried the hatchet and loaded our boats and gear. Huh? Neither of us brought a hatchet on the trip and, if we did have one, why wouldn’t we want to keep it rather than hide it in the ground?

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Dave styles the first big hole at Moshier Falls and focuses on the big boof

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The Dogg launches at Moshier Falls

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Bryon enjoying some airtime at Moshier Falls (Photo: Dave Kersey)

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The Eagle is a short section that has 3 quality and high speed slides to negotiate. I downed some Energybits to give me the speed of an African cheetah and went to register. The race had already started so I didn’t bother with a practice run Having been down this section many times before, I was confident in my lines. I paddled hard and ran clean lines on my two race runs, ending up in 3rd place in the short boat class. Once I was finished with the race, I met up with Bryon and Bailey to make one last run. The water was starting to run out so we had to hurry. The lower level gave the run a different feel but we still had a blast. All in all, the theme park style slides are awesome but the release was too short and I think that it should be lengthened. I started a petition on Change.org that you should sign to try milk an extra hour or two of water for next year.

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Bailey looks on as The Dogg drops into the Eagle section

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Hero eddy above the 2nd slide while chugging a PBR, a crowd pleaser!

Adam enters one of the tougher drops to run clean on the Eagle

Adam enters one of the tougher drops to run clean on the Eagle

It had been a fantastic day so we had to go out and celebrate. We went to Stewarts and bought copious amounts Mountain Ice for only $2.99 a six pack! Things got a little crazy and I decided to pilfer a riding mower from the campground and headed out on Rt. 12. I got a few miles down the road before I was stopped by a cop. He didn’t seem to buy my explanation that I was just borrowing the mower. I was going to give it back but he unfairly cuffed me! I KNOW MY RIGHTS! Luckily, I had my friends to bail me out so I could still paddle the next day.

The last run we decided to hit before heading home was the Taylorville section of the Beaver. This is the easiest section of the river so we expected to have a light day. Still, the run packs some punch in spots and we soon found out that floating willy nilly down Taylorville will end in disaster! Adam pinned twice out of three attempts at getting around the tree in the putin slide. He then proceeded to swim twice out of a large hole called the Beavereater in the second rapid. Then, in the Great White Slide (the third rapid), Bailey got worked twice in the hole at the bottom. The first time, he got out on his own but the second time, Bryon slammed into him and knocked him out of the hole. While this worked out well for Bailey, Bryon severely bruised his arm and got pulled back in for a lengthy beating before pulling his skirt and going for a swim. After barely surviving two runs down Taylorville, we decided to pack up and head home.

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When the dam dosen’t release, this is where the river goes

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The Dogg on the put-in slide for the Taylorsville section

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On the way out of town, we celebrated our awesome trip with some ice cream and a stop by the large cow statue in Lowville to make funny poses for the camera. Little did we know, we were right by Charlie Bucket’s veterinary business (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame). He was not amused when we knocked on his door and asked to see the golden ticket. He finally called the cops on us when we asked him if he would share his lifetime supply of chocolate with us. Luckily, the cops just asked us to leave with no threat of arrest. So, we got in our car and hit the road singing,”I’ve Got A Golden Ticket” at the top of our lungs. But that is another story.

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Extended Gallery (click on thumbnails for larger images):

(Even more photos on FB)

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