This post was originally published at: https://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2019/06/24/kayaking-competitions-fun-families/

We are not a competitive family in terms of competing with those outside our family. Competition inside the family is a different story and a great motivator to learn new skills in all areas of our lives.

We first got involved with kayaking competitions when Hunter was 9. He was intrigued with entering our local kayak rodeo along with his friends but not really certain about the competition part of things. To make it more fun we decided that I (Mom) would enter and we would just compete against each other and not worry about anyone else. That was the first of many times that he has beaten me in freestyle, downriver and ocean surfing competitions.

Our first downriver race was the Race to the Grill at CKC Paddlefest in Buena Vista, Colorado. It is a super family friendly event on a class 2 run that ends at a beach bar. We lined up one after the other with a 30 second gap between paddlers, with Hunter first and me following. He was motivated not to have me catch him and I was motivated to catch him. The chase was on. This is a 20+ minute race where you paddle the entire time and this set up kept us both paddling hard the entire time. We both had podium results but the more important part was the fun that we had out on the river together. We’ve used this strategy in a number of other races and the results were the same – we challenged ourselves, we challenged each other, and we created amazing memories.

Our other biggest learning about kayak competitions is to think of them more as participation than competition. We are coming out to have fun on the river with friends and family. We set goals – either to do a certain trick, beat a certain time or beat each other – and then see if we can achieve them. We have met sooo many great people by showing up at various kayaking “competitions” and choosing to participate. It exposes you to the amazing paddlesports environment and provides you with an opportunity to experience some beautiful parts of what ever country you are in.

We definitely recommend that families get involved in their local paddling festivals and competitions as a way to have fun, grow and learn together. 

The Vincent Family




Columbia and Western Trail – Trans Canada Trail

With the weather starting to warm up in the Kootenays we have been starting to play hookey from the grind of work and school to fit in some kayaking and dirt biking. While the boys have been tackling lots of local single track and steep, rocky terrain I’ve decided that it just doesn’t make dirt biking fun for me. The great news is that we have found the perfect trail for me – the Columbia and Western Trail, which is a component of the Trans Canada Trail and runs 162 km from Castlegar to Grand Forks.

On the Castlegar end the trail starts at the base of the Arrow Lakes alongside all the log booms for the Mills. It is a safe place to park and leave a vehicle with lots of room for trailers as well.

As a rail trail, the trail is very level with no more than a 2.2% grade at the steepest point. It made for very easy riding and we were pretty much alone the entire time, thanks to it being a weekday afternoon. It is a multi-use trail so important for motorized to give way to non-motorized and especially to stop for the horse riders so you don’t spook the horses.

The trestles were impressive and very well maintained. Not quite as many or as tall as when we rode the Kettle Valley Rail Road Trail near Kelowna, but still quite beautiful and impressive engineering.

We went through three tunnels each way- two were fairly easy but the third was long enough that you really needed some extra light to see and help manage through the wet vs dry areas of the trail. They boys were fine as they have lights on their bike – my first time through I was not happy being in the dark so on our way back through Hunter generously rode behind me to shine his light and help decrease my stress level.

We made it about 20 km down the trail, so 40 km round trip. It was just right for my first ride of the season. It will be great to continue to explore various aspects of the trail and hopefully make it the entire length by the end of the fall.


US I-40 Roadtripping

In an effort to avoid snow and mountain passes as we drove from BC to Tennessee we opted for the LONG way around… after dropping almost straight down to Las Vegas on a whole lot of small highways, we ended up driving on US I-40 for 3 very long days heading eastwards. In an effort to break it up, we looked for silly stops to make. Our best three were:

Winslow, Arizona

Winslow, Arizona is actually just off I-40 where historic Route 66 was. It was made famous by a famous Eagles song called “Take it Easy” with the line “Well I’m a standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me…”.

There is now a small park at an intersection in Winslow and corresponding tourist shops to buy lots of souvenirs. The poor staff in those stores as the Eagles soundtrack plays over and over and over – both inside the store and out! We were definitely singing Eagles tunes for the next hour…

The Blue Hole

In Santa Rosa, New Mexico there is a sink hole that is 80 feet deep right in the middle of the small town. It is spring fed so that the water is always around 60f (15c) and so it is used by Scuba Divers year round and locals/tourists for a refreshing swim during the warmer months.

We pulled in late at night and boondocked in the parking lot. It allowed us to see some HUGE catfish and a boatload of crayfish hanging out that we didn’t see again the next morning.

Cadillac Ranch

We’ve seen photos of Cadillac Ranch from many friends over the last few years so this was a definite stop. It is a public art installation of old cadillacs that people then spray paint over and over and over. We were actually quite surprised to discover that it is in a farmers field just off the highway.

What you also don’t see in the photos is the incredible number of spray paint cans that are littered around the field from everyone that has come to visit. It was super windy while we were there (Hunter is holding a tumble weed that he chased across the field) so our stop was fairly short. It’s a good excuse to stretch your legs but I’m not sure I would drive out of my way to check it out.


Dirt biking – a great distraction for the in between season!

Late fall in Canada is a frustrating window of time – whitewater is disappearing but there is not enough snow to go snowboarding. Normally we would just drive further south in search of warm weather and more whitewater to solve that problem but this year we tried something new – sticking around and dirt biking…

After much lobbying from Hunter a set of Honda CRF 150’s made it into the toy box this year.

Although we’re not huge fans of logging for the damage that it can do, the upside is great trails into some really scenic areas!

You just have to look past all the clear-cutting debris…

It’s been fun trying something new – I’m sure there will be many more adventures to come next spring!


Making the most of the end of paddling season

** This post was originally posted at http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2018/10/24/making-the-most-of-the-end-of-paddling-season/ **

The BC paddling season has been an interesting one this year. It started with amazing news that the snowpack was 150% of average, after an amazing winter of lots and lots of snow, which had everyone super stoked for a long and plentiful paddling season. Spring run off was a bit delayed and showed up the 3rd week of May and created some epic high water paddling for a few weeks. Unfortunately with super hot weather, the water did a straight decline from there and we were at epically low water by early August.

Rather than packing our gear up early, we’ve adapted our mindset to keep paddling fun while we wait for some of the fall park and play to show up:

1) This is the perfect time to practice stern squirts and bow plows on eddy lines – the water is warm, the eddy lines are strong enough but not super strong and this can keep you amused for hours, coming and going into eddies up and down the rivers. To up the skill level, make sure you practice on both the left and the right sides of the river as your offside stern squirt can be just as challenging as your offside roll.

2) Flat water tricks make the river into an outdoor pool session – offside rolls, back-deck rolls, bow stalls, stern stalls and flat water loops are all things that you can practice over and over again on relatively flat sections of moving water. With the sunshine and friends around, the time flies by and you are building solid skills.

3) Macho moves – try to find any small wave sections and build on your flat water loop and turn it into a macho move by looping over the wave. Way easier to learn in slower moving water and it’s sure to impress your friends!

4) Building fundamental skills – eddy hop your way down, being sure to catch all the eddies behind the rocks that you normally cruise by. Be on the look out for small rocks you can boof and practice catching all those little catch on the fly surf waves so that you have that skill ready for higher water levels.

5) Drag friends out and teach them to paddle or help them learn flatwater skills – consider this an investment in your paddling community and it gives you more people to play with as well. This is the perfect time to help get others onto the water or upping their paddling skills. We almost have one of our creeking friends convinced that play boating can be fun now that he is learning to stern squirt and bow stall.

Don’t be too hasty on packing up your paddling gear once low water shows up – try some of the above ideas to stretch out your paddling season and learn some new skills!

The Vincent Family