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Erin Savage practicing the ear dip at Seven Foot

Old River, New Tricks

Nikki Malatin - all smiles after a clean boof at Soc 'Em Dog.
Nikki Malatin – all smiles after a clean boof at Soc ‘Em Dog.

The high country seems to be a difficult place to get women kayaking. Maybe it’s the cold weather, or the transient student population, but either way, boating with other women doesn’t happen as much around here. In an effort to do some better networking, I set up a Facebook page for women in the high country to get together to do things outside. The page has seen limited success.

But just a few weeks ago, someone who wasn’t me actually used the page to get the ball rolling on a Chattooga trip. And the trip actually happened!

Trip instigator, Emily Yuratovac, Nikki Malatin, honorary girl-for-the-weekend Matthew Beauchamp, and I headed to the Chattooga for the weekend. It was an awesome weekend. For more details, I thought it would be fun to ask for some reflections from the only guy on the trip.

1. How did you get talked into going on a weekend road trip with a bunch of girls?

Matthew: Nikki invited me. Nikki and I have paddled together a lot and it’s always a good time so she didn’t have to talk me into it.

2. Is kayaking with an all-girl group (except you, of course) different than a group of all guys or a more evenly mixed group?

Emily Yuratovac boofing Seven Foot
Emily Yuratovac boofing Seven Foot

Matthew: I have been on a number of all girl trips and have always had fun. I don’t think there is pressure in all girl groups as much but I still see them push each other in different ways. In my experience the food is better on the all girl trips too!

3. Any advice for road tripping, camping or kayaking with a bunch of girls?

Matthew: If you are the only guy in a group of girls don’t try to take over or take the lead unless asked. Be easy going, be agreeable, & be ready to have some laughs and good times!

4. What was your second favorite rapid of the weekend?

Matthew: My second favorite would have to have been 7 foot. Erin was the motivator for an ear dip attempt session. She had better success than I did!

We had a group with mixed experience and the level was a bit low, so we came up with some ways to make sure everyone had a good time. We worked on downriver play moves like rock spins, ear dips and freewheels. We spent some time at both Seven Foot and Soc ‘Em Dog practicing whatever we wanted, which gave some folks the chance to perfect their freewheels, and others a chance to practice a little friendly beatdown. This works well for those who are newer to the river too, as they can get a chance to lap rapids and become more familiar with them. Nikki was also able to get a Pyranha Loki to demo. There’s nothing like a playboat to sharpen up your skills and make a well-known creek a bit more challenging. We also saw a black bear swimming across the lake – we couldn’t get cameras out in time to take a picture, so you’ll just have to take our word for it.

Matthew (left) showing up Erin (right) on the Soc 'Em Dog freewheels. Freewheels that day were my idea and Matthew said he "didn't do tricky things." Then he pulled this out on the first try.
Matthew (left) showing up Erin (right) on the Soc ‘Em Dog freewheels. Free wheels that day were my idea and Matthew said he “didn’t do tricky things.” Then he pulled this out on the first try. Mine still need work.


I started kayaking in Wisconsin of all places, because this is where I am from. I then moved to San Diego and took on kayak surfing along with heading to the Kern River when water was available. I then made the move to Asheville, NC and have been hooked on this sport since my Wisconsin days. With whatever it is that you do, do it because you love it, not because society tells you should or for other outside factors. Don't simply exist, live!