Upper Cherry Creek. His name was Allen Satcher and I only got to paddle with him a few times. Like most paddlers he was very open and friendly on the river; he also seemed to be a very thoughtful person who willfully chose to be a positive force beyond the paddling world. He kept inviting me to go paddling even though my work schedule and personal lack of motivation to paddle hard stuff made me turn him down. He was out there paddling the rivers that I should have been paddling this season, with Upper Cherry being the number one run on my list for the past several years. I'm confident that if I had expressed interest in running it this year Allen would have been the first to invite me along. But mentally and physically I was not ready for the trip and didn't even try to go.
Paddling class V whitewater is a tricky thing and many folks have written about why we do it and how we accept the risk and what it means for us. Personally I don't have any deep thoughts or profound wisdom at the moment, maybe that will come later. I just see the pain left behind by the early loss of a great person. I've been taking a break from paddling class V since my own beat down earlier this summer. That break will definitely continue until my head is in a space where I really want to get back out there. I'm sure that time will come but until then I will paddle easier waters, spend time with my friends and focus on life off the water. Focus on the things that truly matter to me.
Here is a short clip of Allen (green boat/helmet) from our run down Slab Creek earlier this summer. He will be missed.