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




Party Surfing – a fun way to develop boat control

This post was originally posted at http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2018/07/09/party-surfing-a-fun-way-to-develop-boat-control/

We have used party surfing for years as a fun way to develop and fine tune boat control. It turns learning into a game that is highly interactive and fun for everyone. It is also a fun game that can be played with both kids and adults.

Step one: Find a bunch of friends to paddle with that like to have fun
Step two: Find a wave that will fit at least 3 boats in it
Step three: Someone starts surfing and then the next person joins in, and then the next person, and so on and so on.
Step four: When you fall off, or are knocked off, paddle back to the eddy, get in line and get back out there.
This game can also be called King of the Wave (or hole), which refers to the person that stays out in the feature the longest.
We have found that you can get a bunch of people playing this and it can go on for up to 30 minutes, at which point most people are exhausted and need a rest. People are smiling and cheering and laughing the entire time and don’t realize that they are actually enhancing their paddling skills; – learning better edge control so you don’t zoom into someone, getting comfortable in areas of the wave/hole that you don’t normally go to, playing with side surfing to make room for someone else.
We were in Glenwood Colorado in May and spent an afternoon on the Glenwood wave with the Kellogg family. We had the party surfing game going for a good 30 minutes with at least 8 people cycling through. Even the Dad’s gone into the fun and showed you are never too old to party surf!
If you are a bit hesitant and just getting started, then just try party surfing with one other person, then slowly add more friends/family into the mix. You will be amazed at how much fun it is and how your skills develop without you even trying.

CKS Paddlefest is a must-do for families

This post was written for Jackson Kayak and can also be found at: http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2018/06/09/cks-paddlefest-is-a-must-do-for-families/

CKS Paddlefest is held over the memorial day long weekend in Buena Vista, Colorado, a funky mountain town a few hours west of Denver. It just celebrated it’s 18th year and keeps getting better and better for both paddlers and families alike.

Once you arrive in the South Main area of Buena Vista, you can pretty much park your vehicle and spend the rest of your time walking or biking everywhere, which is such an amazing things for families. This is our second year here and were were once again impressed with the friendliness of the people, the cleanliness of the area and the general fun factor of the event, which includes running races, a disc golf tournament, bouldering competitions, Stand up paddle boarding, flat water activities, freestyle kayaking and down river kayaking. Pretty much something for everyone!


There are 3 solid choices for accommodations:

* Camping or RVing in the camping area that is right beside the river. It’s mostly a gravel lot but convenience outweighs everything else.

* Air BnB / Vacation Rental of a house or apartment in the South Main area – no more than 2 blocks from the river and all the action in the main green

* Hotel – stay at the Surf Hotel, which is right on the Arkansas River and in the middle of everything

Fun family activities off the water:

* Buena Vista playground is about 3 blocks from the river, full of high quality playground equipment and right next to the community centre bathrooms (super handy – someone was thinking!)

* Buena Vista skate park is just on the other side of the playground and has features that work for beginner through to expert and both skateboards and scooters

* Buena Vista pump track is just across the road from the playground (what amazing forethought to put these 3 sites within 100 yards of each other) and super fun to play on with your bikes

* There is even a dog park that has agility toys so you can get your dog out and playing (located just on the other side of the pump track)

* South Main bouldering park is SUPER Fun for kids of any age – nothing beats climbing up and around things to keep everyone smiling. Most kids are out in their socks or bare feet vs actual climbing shoes.

* Run around in the big grassy area at the South Main square, which has a nice mixture of grass, shade, benches for mom and dad and a bouldering rock to climb on

Getting out on the water:

There are on water activities from Friday through to Monday and are geared at a wide range of paddlers. You can choose to compete in some events (freestyle, downriver class IV and downriver class II) or just take a workshop or two from world class paddlers.

* This year there was a fun kids paddling event at the pond geared at getting kids out kayaking on flat water. A number of the kids from the Jackson Team were on hand to teach some skills and cheer on others as they learned.

* Freestyle clinics were taught by Stephen Wright and Mathieu Dumoulin

* EJ was running slicy boat clinics on both Saturday and Sunday to help people make the most of the newest old school boats and tricks

* Rocky Mountain Outdoor Company runs full day kayak river running sessions for a range of skills

* You can also take ACA instructor classes to get your certifications or re-certify

On top of of that, Buena Vista is just a beautiful place to hang out. There are a range of trails to walk, run, hike and bike on that you can access directly from the South Main area. Lots of restaurants within easy walking distance and three ice cream shops so you won’t get in a rut!

One of the things that we love best about CKS Paddlefest is how safe it is. If feels like a small town event and there are no concerns about the kids running around back and forth between the river and the campground or even heading down to main street to get ice cream.  We completely recommend CKS Paddlefest as a family event – whether you come to compete (because that is super fun), to learn (amazing opportunities) or just to paddle some of the fun rivers and features in the area.

Paddling moms rock!

This post was originally published at: http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2018/05/09/paddling-moms-rock/

With mothers day right around the corner, I wanted to take a moment and celebrate kayak moms, and most specifically the paddling kayak mom. Paddling kayak mom’s are lucky as they have a choice…similar to sports like hockey, soccer or swimming, a kayak mom can choose to be the shuttle driver and stand watching from the riverside OR they can chose to get in a kayak/canoe and get out on the river with their kids and their family.

Those are the moms that we are honouring today – the paddling mom. Those mom’s are a varied group – some were paddlers before their kids and continued seamlessly while their kids were young through to when they were able to get them on the water. Some were paddlers before their kids and then took a break from the sport while their kids were little, finding it again when their kids were old enough to get involved. And some jumped into the sport with both feet as their kids were learning.
These moms are amazing role models that deserve to be celebrated. They are growing a whole new generation of paddlers. They are role modelling active, healthy living and family time. They are modelling bravery and life long learning. And they are demonstrating humility and team spirit, especially as their kids surpass them. They get to be there for the lows when their children have an energy bonk and crash in the middle of the river run or stand in tears when scouting a rapid that they are terrified of. They also get to be there for the highs of that first surf, that first big drop or must make move. Sometimes they are right there in the middle of the run with their child and sometimes they have portaged the feature and are providing safety. Either way – these are now shared memories and moments that will last a lifetime.
Here are a few of the amazing mom’s that are part of the Jackson Kayak team, and their stories behind why they chose to get in the water with their families.
“I love paddling with my family for the simple fact that we are all together conquering the same hurdles, enjoying the same conquests and running the gamut of emotions at the same time. It’s pretty sweet where on any given day, I can be coached by my 15m 17 & 20 year old sons and then turn around and look like I know what I’m doing when I give the same advice to my 13, 12, 10 and 8 year old kiddos!” Susie Kellogg’
“I began paddling because my family loves to paddle and I love to spend time with my family. I love to see them try new things and improve in their skills and joke and have fun together on the river. Over time, my reason for paddling has changed a bit. Now I paddle for myself as well. I like to try new things and feel the sense of accomplishment as I improve in my skills. I love the way paddling brings our family together, and the super people we meet through the sport, but I also love it for the growth and fun that I have on the river.” Carol Walker
Where else can you immerse your family in solitude, with lessons in environment, ecology, hydrology, geology, etc.. You learn to listen, trust, follow directions – and it never ends. Every river is different, and every level is a new river. To watch your child grow on the water, learn the basic skills, and follow you – then lead you – as they grow in confidence and decision making skills, accepting risk with confidence, and making choices to walk, based on their ability and tenacity, and then realize they have surpassed you in, not only paddling, but the understanding and power of the water, and the confidence to run things you never dreamed of. That’s when you know you have raised your child the right way. When my daughter runs class 5 rivers, I’m often asked if I’m scared or worried – and I’m not. Because the river has raised her to be the person she is, and I beam with pride to know this is a direction we turned her to… and she has the knowledge, strength, confidence and skill to head down, making good decisions as she goes. These lessons transfer to a lot of life situations, and I cherish watching her handle them with poise, strength and grace. As a couple, and a family, we have trust, communication, and respect for each other and the environment, all lessons encouraged by the river, so yes, we love to paddle together! Stephanie Viselli
I love being on the water, not only with my family, but with other families. I love nothing more than seeing my kids have fun with other kids on the water while learning and challenging their skills. My favorite moments are the flat waters in between where we connect and share experiences as parents and families. I always relish in the magic of these moments never wanting them to end. Paddling with my family is our bond. We are unconnected, unplugged, not being entertained, but rather creating our own moments. I’ll never forget when I saw Jackie get her first combat rolls in the pool session. Maddie’s slug roll – no hand roll on the Ottawa. The magic is that I am not on the sideline watching as a fan, but that I am as much in the moment with them on the water as a participant in the same sport. I get to play and we get to play together.  Stace Kimmel
Turning moments into lasting memories, with my family, is the reason that I kayak. Not only does this sport keep me pushing myself, but the unplugged time on the rivers, with my family, creates enjoyment that I have not been able to duplicate in any other activity. Melissa Hargrove
If you are currently a riverside kayak mom – take the opportunity to get out with your family, even just for a flat water paddle, this year for Mother’s Day. If your family doesn’t kayak and you happen to be reading this – definitely give it a try. Most kayak shops offer lessons, which can be a great way to start on the water as a family together.
For us, this will be a life long sport – something we come together to do and something we do separately. It’s a shared passion, with a shared language, that allows us to meet new people, explore new places and get outside as often as possible.
Lee Vincent