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Attack of the Killer Beaver

Two summers ago my instructor, Rob and I were doing the Loop at Ohiopyle State Park on the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania. We were having a grand old time and were relaxing in our boats between rapids in a calm section of the river.

Having been around the woods and water most of my life, it took me a second to recognize the large and loud ker-ploosh noise in the background. Since the noise broke the serene nature of our current river local, it was very noticeable. The thought crossed our minds that we might be near a beaver den. The noise got louder and more frequent as we passed through this stretch of the river.

After about a 100 yards the noise stopped and we figured we were in the clear. Suddenly, my instructor realized we were not in the clear just yet, he felt a thumping below the water on the underside of his kayak. A moment later an explosion erupted from the water in a display of breaching that most resembled a blue whale leaving the water or more closely a scene from the movie Jaws!

Our little beaver friend launched from the water right next to my instructors boat. As if the beaver was on a pogo stick, this furry little mammal continued to try and catapult himself onto the deck of my partners boat. Being only a few inches from the water to begin with, I thought the beaver might be successful and I can't imagine what he would have done with a beaver in his lap? To me the scene appeared to happen in slow motion but to Rob, I'm sure he feared for his life and at the very least a very nasty beaver bite. From my boat, it looked like Rob was using his paddle as a rotor blade of a helicopter as he tried to defend himself from "mini" jaws.

I floated frozen, unable to get a fix on our furry stalker as Rob unsuccessfully tried to clobber the beaver on the noggin. In a moment of calm, as I'm sure the beaver was preparing for a second round of attacks, we made a bee-line down river to escape our very territorial friend. We both looked over our shoulders to find two little round ears following us down river like the fin on a great white shark. The scene was almost surreal. That little beaver followed us until just above the next rapid and then watched us until we were well on our way and out of his hair.

At the bottom of the rapid, after the color returned to Rob's face, we inspected the damage, laughed and joked as I called him Quint (captain from Jaws) and I also kidded him about the beaver being an old girlfriend!

Rob escaped without a scratch, a few more gray hairs, and only a couple of teeth marks on his boat. Rob exclaimed to me that he didn't know if the water in his boat was from the last set of rapids or from the pot of coffee he drank that morning! He said that he has been through that stretch of rapids a thousand times in the past 20 years and nothing like that had ever happened to him!

Submitted by Eric Slough, Toledo, OH

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