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Old 08-19-2014   #51
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,062
River Gods

I've heard it said that when a paddler gones down a River God is born. With Beth it seams pure and that her engery will continue. I didn't know her well enough and only paddled with her 5-6 times and always in a group, but Beth stood out as being special.

"Paddle like a girl" means more now.

I love to dance, but who needs the music- It throws me off.
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Old 08-19-2014   #52
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
I first met Beth a few years ago, and why wouldn’t I? Beth was a staple in the local paddling community and while I’d seen her around, I hadn’t actually paddled with her until an early season low water Black Rock run. As I was running laps on Rigo, she was on shore studying it intently. I tossed my boat back into the water as she snapped on her spray skirt and looked to me for encouragement. After I shared my well rehearsed last minute advice, she nervously pushed out of the eddy, wobbled a bit as she engaged with the current and cruised through the rapid with aplomb. I paddled down to greet her smiling face.

When I try to summarize someone in words, it inevitably falls short. It reminds me of an old interview with a film director who when asked, “What are you trying to say with this film?” he replied, “If I could just tell you what I was trying to say in words, then I wouldn’t have had to make the film.” I think it’s the same when trying to describe a person. Beth’s life was the expression of who she was. But perhaps by recalling some stories, those who knew her can share in the experience.

Beth and I shared a passion for boating. Being stuck on the Front Range, when the rivers dry up, most people go do something else, but a few obstinate souls refuse to give in. I remember seeing her once at the October Hole. She was pulling in as I was taking out. I told her it was too low and she was better off doing something else. After her session, she sent me a text concurring with my assessment. So imagine our mutual shock when we bumped into each other out there again the following week, at the same flow.

Beth was a very kind person and it doesn’t surprise me at all to see the outpouring of responses from the many people she has connected with over the years. Most of the time Beth came over to my house because she left something in my car or needed to repair/replace a broken piece of gear. But when my house flooded last fall, Beth came by multiple times to help clean up the aftermath. When my baby was born, she offered to help out with babysitting. When Beth came by to drop off food a few weeks after my daughter’s birth, in typical Beth fashion, it took a couple tries. She had prepared a meal, brought it to work, and put it in the refrigerator. When she arrived at my house, she realized that she’d taken somebody else’s lunch instead. It took a few more days for us to get the meal, but when it finally arrived, it was delicious (and even Boulder-tarian friendly)!

I always joked that Beth never had her shit together. She’d show up at the put-in with a borrowed helmet, another person’s backup paddle, and a drytop that needed patching. And that was before she asked if you had a throw rope she could borrow. I think it was because she always tried to fit so much in, that she never took a moment to get herself organized.

I had a few memorable trips with Beth. You’d think for someone who would get anxious about certain runs, that cold weather would deter her enough to stay away. But the desire to get out almost always overrode her fear. We did an early season Gore run with snow on the ground and an unpleasant wind biting our faces. I wasn’t even opening my skirt for a second to adjust my backband for fear of losing warmth. We were all a little rusty, but Beth ended up swimming in Kirshbaum. I was worried she was going to be cold and miserable and regret her decision to join us that day, but she just looked a little disappointed about pulling her skirt. By the takeout, she was all smiles again and I was the only one complaining about the cold.

One time last year I convinced her we should go do an early morning Bailey run (she didn’t need much convincing). I had a full Saturday agenda and wanted to get home early. Speed was never her forte, so I should have known better, but even a bad day with Beth was still a good day. It was her first run down Bailey since having a bad pin and destroying her boat. After a slow gear up session (she was borrowing one of my boats that day), we put on. She wasn’t feeling confident so did a lot of walking early on. Her mind was not in the right place and she ended up swimming in a dinky little hole below Supermax. She got out quickly and I gave chase to the boat which took a long time to recover by myself. When Beth finally arrived, I towed it back to the other side. I had prepared a few sarcastic comments, but before I could open my mouth, she immediately broke down in tears followed by a serious contact lens malfunction. As we paddled out she told me she’d been having a rough couple weeks, but knew that things would get better. We talked through some of her problems, and she was back to good spirits on the shuttle, grateful for a day out on the water. I’m not one to initiate, you know, touching people, so I figured it was a sign that she valued our friendship when she reached over to hug me goodbye for the first time.

There were many more days on the water together. She liked to tease me about my affection for River Brain (and yeah, I’m pretty sure she’d be proud of me for slipping a reference in here). We’d often share a joke about our favorite kayaking personality du jour. While I believe most of her motivation was derived from a love of the sport, she once told me she wanted to increase her boating skills now before age made it too late to achieve the level of proficiency she was after.

When she did a temporary move to Houston to help out her brother and his family, I blessed her with the perfect rundown of must dos in Houston (being a true blood Texan myself). She promptly ignored all my suggestions and even sold her mountain bike, despite my pitch that the urban dirt trails are the Houston highlight. I guess she didn’t like to be told what to do.

Despite never managing to have a full set of kayaking gear together at any moment in time, she did have her shit together enough to become a skilled masseuse, obtain a degree in nursing, launch a successful career, and still be a quite competent kayaker. I imagine anyone who scored Beth as their nurse had their day upgraded from class II to at least a class IV.

One of my last, most vivid memories of Beth was when she came over to my house this past spring to return something. It was a beautiful morning at a time when everything was green and nature had rebounded from its slumber. I was out on my lawn with my daughter when Beth pulled up in her new-used truck that she so proudly drove, and sat down with us. She looked strong and healthy. She marvelled at how babies sit upright with perfect posture, clearly taking some notes for her next yoga session. We spent some time talking about our plans for the summer and parted ways knowing we’d be seeing each other soon on the river.

The last time I saw Beth was on her birthday. She invited a crew out to Black Rock for a birthday run. I wanted to join her to celebrate but couldn’t get away from work on time and ended up leaving an hour late. I figured I’d show up, do a quick run and catch her at the takeout. As it turned out, she arrived even later than me. My crew doesn’t wait 5 minutes for me to show, but hers waited over an hour. When she arrived, I wished her a happy birthday. Every year she was surprised anew that I could recall her age until I’d remind her that we were almost the same age, our birthdays separated by only a couple weeks.

She must have been pleased that I showed up for her birthday because she gave me a big hug, only the second time I can remember her doing that. I jumped in her truck to ride up to the put-in and she told me about her move to Denver and the challenges at her new nursing job in the oncology department, and all the additional skills she was acquiring. She seemed in good spirits and sounded like the Beth I’d come to know, busy and always looking for the next adventure.

I wish Beth was still around. I wish she was here to share her sincere comfort, care, and humor with the patients in the hospital. I wish she was here to slip me a sly smile at the putin. I wish she was here to offer free massages to worn down paddlers at Bailey Fest. I wish she was here to cry when she has a bad day on the water and yard-sales all her (technically my) gear. I wish she was here to entertain her nieces and introduce them to life’s great adventures. I wish she was here to grow old with her brother. I wish she was here to share her energy, joy and enthusiasm with everyone she meets.

I take some solace in knowing that Beth understood all too well how fleeting life can be and that she lived each day with a richness that reflected its ephemerality. I take solace in knowing that she touched so many lives that we’ll remember her for years to come as we regale in stories reflecting her spirit.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from this, it’s that if you think someone is a good person and you value them in your life, you should share that with them while they’re here. Even though I never told her explicitly, I hope that Beth understood that I valued her friendship in my life, and I like to think that our last hug was an acknowledgment of that mutual understanding.


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Old 08-19-2014   #53
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,121
I only knew her here on MB, but I always enjoyed her thoughtful posts as ednaout. She was always so supportive and encouraging to everyone, especially us boater gals. Her signature cactus always made me smile.

Paddle On River Sister!
"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love....and then we return home."
Australian Aboriginal Proverb
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Old 08-19-2014   #54
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Lakewood, Colorado
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Well said, Kevin.

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On the river, I can abandon who I am and what I've done. However brief it lasts, while on the river I am nothing important and everything insignificant. I am flotsam, and happy to be so.
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Old 08-19-2014   #55
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
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Words fail me... I only crossed paths with Beth a couple times. That was enough to show me the beautiful person that she was. I love the depth of contact and shared experience that we often have as boaters. I will miss you Beth. Much love to all of us.
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Old 08-19-2014   #56
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Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1974
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Originally Posted by hojo View Post
Well said, Kevin.

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Yes, well said. One of the finest eulogies I've read.
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Old 08-19-2014   #57
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Near water (hopefully), Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
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Originally Posted by duct tape View Post
Yes, well said. One of the finest eulogies I've read.
Absolutely, we all know Kevin has a way with words but wow! That was not easy to read and I imagine even harder to write. I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

I couldn't tell you how many times I paddled with Beth. Not because we were always on the river together, but because we sporadically ended up kayaking with each-other over the last five years. I remember her having this sharp wit that would always catch me off guard. Here I am, early in my college career trying to maintain some sort of bravado and then wham! Beth would whip out a joke that would have me reeling. She kept people honest, maybe it was her genuine interest in exploring the lives of others, or maybe it was her forthright disposition. Regardless she had traits that attracted friends like moths to a light.
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Old 08-19-2014   #58
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 749
I'm not sure I ever met anyone who was more into kayaking than Beth. It's crazy how many times we boated together last summer without planning to meet up - she was always at a put-in or takeout. At times it felt like there was more than one of her because she was always so present in the river scene.

I had a Middle Fork permit last summer, and one of the group asked if he could bring a friend along - he didn't give me a name. Sure enough when he pulled up to the put-in he had Beth along with him. It was great spending that week with her on the river, and the nightly massages were a huge hit.

You can tell how amazing she was by the number of people on here and on facebook that have had memorable experiences with her.
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Old 08-19-2014   #59
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
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Well put Kevin. Let's all look out for each other and have a safe Gorefest this weekend.
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Old 08-19-2014   #60
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 144
Wow. Words only take us so far, but it's what we have in order to share this experience, so these are my thoughts and feelings, in words.

I didn't know Beth well, but that didn't seem to matter, because her heart was not a place with boundaries. It was not the sort of place that could be entered, or departed from. Strangely, or perhaps not strangely, I still feel that sense today.

Beth carried herself through life with a humorous, abiding intensity that leaves me feeling frankly, jealous. She showed up to life, whatever it was. She brought from the well of her own spirit, laughter, honesty, empathy, and for so many, willingness. I don't know if it was innate or learned, but Beth was supremely aware and willing. A surprisingly rare combination.

Beth was far from naive, she knew this world and the people in it well. She new the price of loving, and the price of living. It was beautiful.

Beth was radiant. She was profoundly wise for her age and truly infinitely deep, and may the way that she met every step of her life with openness be a lesson for us all. Beth didn't take herself too seriously, and for me, that is her most beloved trait. A cheerful disregard for the serious approach to life and the people and things in it.

This community, the paddling community, is incredible. Beth knew this, and at the same time was a pillar of this community. There is no telling how much less many of us would have paddled without Beth's eagerness, and at times downright pesty-ness. She was down to rally and that is again, very rare. Thank you Beth, and thanks to this community. Let's all carry on teaching, learning, sharing, and loving together in the way that Beth so fearlessly did.

This is a sad loss indeed, but also a time for gratitude.

"The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest." - William Blake


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