Erik Boomer is like an unassuming rock star, if that’s even possible. He’s a ridiculously good boater but talking big isn’t his thing (think Slash-the G&R version). Going big is (try Roger Plant with Jack Johnson’s attitude). Canoekayak.com sat down with the 24-year-old Liquidlogic hucker to try and pry out some information. Like his thoughts on being the first to run Washington's Outlet Falls and escaping death in Minnesota. -Joe Carberry
Describe the Outlet Falls mission for us. You were the first one to nut up and run the drop. The day was abnormally sunny for winter in Washington. By the time Nate Herbeck called me and said he thought the level was good there was about ten paddlers already poised at his house ready to support the mission. After looking at a picture of the falls in the L.C.D. screen of Nate's camera, I realized the level was optimum. This is the longest that I’ve mentally kayaked a waterfall before actually running it. Three years ago I post holed through the snow to scout this stouter. I’ve returned about four times since and decided not to run it because of insufficient flows. In one way I felt very prepared, on the other hand, it was a big mental block to overcome. Ben Stookesberry and his cohort, Devin Knight, showed up as I was getting dressed and brought some good energy. One great thing about committing to a waterfall is that you don't have to take the last step off the edge... you are thrown over the lip by the current. This drop in particular had a hot lead-in that forced you to put your mind and body into gear all the way up to the lip. It was an epic ride; I have some mental snapshots that I won’t forget for a long time. The landing was initially soft but [then turned] violent when the channel of water pile drove me deeper into the pool. I lost my paddle and failed my handroll attempts - back to the pool for me. Then Ben and L.J. Groth ran it and both had different, but great lines. Everyone there was stoked and full of energy to have had such an epic day.
You seem pretty low profile, meaning you don't do much self promotion. We did see your spot in Twitch V "Pulse" . You always seem to show up around the gnar. What's your philosophy about pro boating? Are you trying to make a life out of it?
I've loved paddling longer than I have loved anything else in my life. When I go kayaking I'm just doing what satisfies me and makes me happy. I have dreamt of kayaking adventures since I first got into paddling at nine-years-old. So every-time I go paddling I'm fulfilling a childhood dream. Rodeos and competitions are great but definitely not a dream of mine.
For me kayaking is about setting out on journeys with friends. Competitions can be great fun but I would rather put my money towards getting away from the crowds. My favorite paddling trips are multi-days with big drops.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I'm spending a few weeks in Minnesota/Ontario searching for big drops this spring. I'm also looking forward to the White Salmon River Festival May 29-31. Maybe B.C. early fall then onto nursing school for two years which will keep me local. My home this winter has been the “Beaverlodge”, an old guide cabin on the White Salmon River. I went without heat or water December-January. But, the WiFi still worked!
I paddle in the [Hood River] Gorge with a great local crew or whoever shows up for the weekend. I just started running the truss with two brothers from Trout Lake High School, Todd and Brendon Wells. I always look forward to any of the LVM trips with the southeast crew too.
What are your thoughts on safety? Always carry a throw bag and be confident in using it. Accidents happen when we least expect them. Especially when scouting consider back up plans and be prepared to use them. Always be accountable for yourself and paddle with people you respect and trust. Paddle with at least three people. Focus on making logical decisions, don't let emotions like fear or pride control your decisions.
So on that note, we saw that YouTube clip from Herbeck's Toxic Waters where you got worked in a hole above that waterfall in Minnesota? What was going through your mind?
I was thinking that I really didn't want to swim on the first drop of our Minnesota trip. I knew that the longer I held on the more chances I would get to paddle out. By the time I was out of the hole I was also out of breath. Regardless, I got a burst of energy after battling out, and I decided to charge right off the next falls because the hole was more forgiving and I had great safety.