Steamboat Springs Nationally known kayaking prodigy Charlie Beavers, who spent his formative years in Steamboat Springs, died Oct. 18 in Asheville, N.C., of head injuries suffered in a fall from a 30-foot deck. He was 21.
Beavers attended Whiteman School here and was an accomplished kayaker well before his high school years. Friends are posting memorials at a Web page called "boater talk."
"I helped set up Charlie Beavers at age 12 with his first kayak, a Dancer XS, which dwarfed the little guy at the time," recalled veteran Steamboat paddler and boat shop owner Peter Van de Carr. "We had a pretty epic season that spring of '94. It snowed straight through 'til the middle of June and Charlie being on the river was as predictable as the noon fire siren in Steamboat Springs."
By the time he was 16, Beavers was leading a group of local boaters down a storied first run of the North Fork of Fish Creek.
Expedition member Craig Frithsen recalled that Beavers' possessed remarkable leadership skills for such a young man.
"It seemed like there was no way down this drop and Charlie made it look like it really wasn't worth so much concern."
Van de Carr pointed out that the North Fork of Fish Creek has rarely been run since.
Among his contemporaries in Steamboat were Ben Coleman and Andy Blakeslee.
Beavers was working for Asheville-based kayak manufacturer Pyranha at the time of his death. Co-worker Dixie Marree said the paddling community in Asheville valued his sense of humor and innate charisma.
"Charlie was 21 and one of the most naturally talented whitewater kayakers around," Marree wrote. "He was a creeker, expedition and soul boater to heart."
Beavers' parents, Wick and Bonnie, have shown appreciation for all of the online memorials that have been posted.
"You all have really a wonderful thing going a great community," Wick Beavers wrote. "Thanks for being a part of his life. Bring the joy together always. Keep paddling!"
Van de Carr had one last memento of Charlie Beavers to hang onto this week. Stuck to the ceiling of his shop, close to the banks of the Yampa, is a scrap of plastic left after Van de Carr took the wrapping off a new Pyranha kayak. Scrawled on the plastic in big black letters is a final message: "Charlie Beavers shipped this boat."