Mother’s Day Q&A Session with Emily Jackson (by Sarah Leith Bahn)

We were lucky to have the Jackson-Troutman clan in the Gorge for a few weeks recently and, after seeing Emily juggle a preschooler, a baby, a moving home, business commitments and still getting time on the water, we couldn’t think of anyone better for a Mother’s Day Q&A. A professional paddler for most of her life, Emily is (literally) traveling a less-traditional road with her family, paddling wherever the water is good and taking her kids along for the adventure.

And who better to interview her than one of our other favorite moms, Sarah Leith Bahn? Sarah is a former US National whitewater slalom team member who still finds time to get out on the water while juggling two boys, starting a business with her husband, vlogging about healthy eating… oh, and writing a book along the way!




How do you get your life jacket on over your engorged milk boobs? This was a problem for me! I got to the put-in the first time to paddle and couldn’t fit in my life jacket!

Did the same thing in my DrySuit after having my Daughter Parker- it was my boobs and hips- I may have cried a little, I loosened all the straps and fed her as much as I could right before paddling!

How do you deal with the fact that you pee a little every time you take a hard stroke?

Haha- I was pretty lucky this only happened when doing jumping jacks- or at least, I didn’t notice it while kayaking… Wear board shorts I guess and try to not wear a drysuit for the first little bit… You can get rid of board shorts pretty easy but once a dry suit smells like pee- there is no going back

I had my babies in my mid-30s. I gained 60 pounds in both pregnancies. And it was really hard for me to trust my shoulders, my back and abs again – I was worried when I first went paddling that I’d get injured. It took a lot longer than I would have thought to trust my body again and know it was strong enough to handle paddling. Do you have any advice for women to learn how to trust their bodies again after growing babies? (My pregnancies were like an injury and it took time to have faith that my injury was healed)

I was younger with both kids, but I don’t feel this changed that feeling of doubt I had with my body. With Tucker I competed 3 weeks before I had him – weighing 198 pounds in a small Star (max weight of that boat is supposed to be 140 lol) and then I actually competed 3 weeks afterwards at US nationals and won. I decided I was happiest if I got my time in the water, and this meant baby was happy, daddy was happy and most importantly I was happy. I felt if I held myself back in fear of my body getting hurt, then I was already hurting myself. I focused on play boating and easier river runs and literally told myself, it’s like riding a bike, you just need to do it, and while paddling, convincing myself that I had all the confidence in the world (even though it was at an all time low). I laughed when stuff didn’t feel right, but my confidence stemmed from the fact that hey- I am a MOM now- things are different and different is totally okay.

I was never a Nicole Mansfield that ran multiple class V rapids daily, but I did love technical class 4. However after I had kids, I really had a hard time with rapids that had consequences. I found myself scared instead of nervously excited. It was like something flipped inside me and honestly it made me turn my back on the sport for a little while. I was bored on class III and too scared on class 4. It took a new slalom boat, and multiple laps down the Lower White Salmon to realize, I do love simply being on the river and feeling my hull react to the water regardless of how small the whitewater is. Do you have any advice for Moms that come back to the sport after having kids that find themselves scared of a sport they once loved?

This is totally normal is so many different ways- Any major change in your life will have you looking at things a little differently. There are so many ways to add spice to kayaking without upping the consequences. For starters- take a playboat down an easier river run, try splatting, squirting, and harder lines on rapids. The combination of trying things plus being in a smaller boat will make the river feel different. Much like taking a SUP on flatwater and all of sudden the flatwater at times can get difficult and exciting. My favorite feeling is when water simply splashes me in the face. So I feel like my day was an accomplishment if I had that one moment of bliss. The absolute hardest part about getting back into kayaking- is choosing to go kayaking over taking care of other responsibilities, as mom we get accustomed to taking care of everyone else and not ourselves, so by simply choosing to put yourself first for that quick kayaking lap, or river run, you should already gain confidence and be proud of yourself regardless of what you are doing on the water.

One of the things I loved about the sport of kayaking – especially on the Potomac River, I could paddle whenever I wanted and was not dependent on anyone. My boat was always on my car and I could literally in 5 minutes go from eating breakfast to taking a lap down little falls on the Potomac. Then I had a kid and felt trapped! I couldn’t just go paddling whenever I wanted. And it made me sad. How do you deal with feeling trapped?

This day and age I feel like being a Mom alone isn’t enough, we all need to be supermom and take care of everything on our own, asking questions makes us look weak right? I feel trapped when I want everything to be perfect and an exact way. When I am not flexible or allow people to help me, the walls around me get tighter and tighter until I eventually crack. My kids have been watched on the river banks by people who I would never expect to watch them, people have run my shuttle with the kids in the car, by giving up a little control, and taking people up on acts of kindness my freedom has come back! By being flexible and saying yes to the chaos, accepting the challenges, and knowing that when I get home, the house will be messy, the kids might be a touch tired, by my soul is refreshed, makes me feel like I can accomplish anything.

Here is my Ted Talk on Prioritizing to give you a little more insight on how I try to balance my lifestyle:


Thanks again, Emily & Sarah, and Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms that paddle!

It’s time for the 2017 Bonneville Bass Bonanza Tournament, a fundraiser for HOW

The 2017 Bonneville Bass Bonanza Tournament, a fundraiser for Heroes on the Water, is just around the corner! Now is the time to register for this great event that helps those who have given so much.

Registration Deadline: Monday, May 29th 2017
Event Date: June 3rd, 2017
Fishing Grounds: Bonneville Pool
Launch: First Light

Check-in Location: Waterfront Park, Near Lur Jensen Beach, Hood River  Weather dependent.

Check-in Deadline: 3:00 PM

We are excited to be using Tourney X this year, allowing those of you involved with Oregon Kayak Bass Fishing to add this event to your annual competition series. We look forward to it also benefiting HOW by increasing the number of participants!

If you are unfamiliar with Tourney X, you will need to register with them prior to the tournament. They will collect the registration funds and provide you with a code which will be used to record your winning fish. A photo of your fish and your registration code will be uploaded to Tourney X at check-in.

Log in / Register here for Tourney X and the BBB

The Bonneville Bass Bonanza will a single largest bass by length contest. Catch and release fishing ONLY!

bonneville bass bonzana

Qualifications for Fish Submissions:

  • – We will be using the rules standard set from Kayak Bass Fishing
  • – There will be no Captains Meeting for this event. Fishing commences in the Bonneville Pool when the tournament begins. “Weigh In” will be held at the Hood River Waterfront Park.

Anglers Must:

  • Fill out and sign a waiver before participating in the event!  If you haven’t signed a waiver, you cannot present photos to the “weigh-in” station. We will send you a waiver via email after registration closes and before the event you can email back to us.
  • River Level- We’ve had a crazy winter so the Columbia is high. We expect it to remain so for the next couple months. This shouldn’t effect most good Bass areas. It will make for a stronger current when you get in areas with a current. So please be mindful. We don’t want to have to come and get you in Cascade Locks:)
  • – Wear a PFD and appropriate immersion gear for the days temp and water temperatures – AKA dress appropriately.
  • – Fly a safety flag while on the water.
  • – Propel themselves to and from the fishing grounds.
  • – Carry a valid fishing license and follow ODFW/WDFW Regulations pertaining to the Bonneville Impoundment
  • – Release fish unharmed
  • – Actively seek to minimize impact on motorized vessels (at the launch and on the water)

We are excited about this event and raising funds for one of our favorite organizations, HOW!

If you have any additional questions, please contact us at:

Jackson Kayak & the Kayak Shed take on the John Day

We were thrilled to have the pros at Jackson Kayak join us for our second annual kayak fishing trip down the John Day river. We were almost as thrilled to receive this edit from them the other day so we could reminisce on what a great trip it was! Enjoy the amazing scenery and fishing of the John Day and stay tuned for details on next year’s trip!


Heather Herbeck Falls For A Villain!

We asked Heather Herbeck, local pro Jackson Kayak paddler, to give us her thoughts after her first paddle (or two) in the Villain, Jackson’s new creekboat, and here’s what she had to say!

The new Jackson Creek boat, the Villain, is sure to get your ‘stamp of approval’, all you gotta do is take it on the water.

For the last year, there has been ‘buzz’ about a new Jackson Creek boat. Word has it, that it’s a cross between the Hero and the Rocker. However, I think they put a little bit more thought into this series then just mating the two boats.

I’ve been looking forward to paddling the Villain since I had the opportunity to sit in one at Canoecopia in Madison, WI. The first thing you notice about the boat is the volume in the knee area. With the new creekboat, you have lower volume in the knees. Your knees are set in a more ‘user-friendly’ position, allowing more manueverability with your knees and an easier time rolling with your knees in this position.
Within the first 5 minutes on the water in the Villain, I was in love. The first boof I pulled, launched me soaring into the air. I felt like I was flying. The second thing I noticed right away was the speed of the boat. After each boof, the boat kept it’s speed in the direction I wanted it to go.

One of the best qualities of this boat is the edges and the way it tracks on the water. I have found myself in the past exhausted after paddling, from using tons and tons of correctional strokes and wasted energy. With the speed and tracking of the Villain, I only needed a few strokes to accelerate me in the direction I wanted to go and it kept on track . . . crashing waves, boily current, holes . . . nothing stopped this boat or turned it off course. As funny as it sounds, I felt like a stronger, more efficient paddler in the Villain . . . and, that’s a ‘thumbs up’ confidence boost right there.

The next day, a friend (who doesn’t paddle Jackson) tried the boat out. And, both him and I agree that the Jackson Villain is in the top 5 boats on the market right now.
You better go get yourself one! I’m excited for a whole new level of paddling and confidence in the Jackson Villain 🙂

To keep on top of Heather’s adventures (not an easy thing to do, trust us!), be sure to follow her at:

Liquid Kayak
River Angels

And her great sponsors:
Jackson Kayak
Level Six

Kayak Shed . .

2010 Jackson Kayak Reviews & Paddle This Tuesday!

We’re really excited to have one of Jackson Kayak’s factory pros in town with us this Tuesday (3/23/10) to fill us in on their line-up for this year! Stephen Wright will be around the shop all day if you have questions, but better yet – he’s taking us out for an after-work paddle so we can use his boats and get a good on-water feel for the new designs. Want to join us? Please do! We’re going to head out from the shop around 5pm and would love to have you give us your thoughts on the new boats too (give us a call if you need to meet us elsewhere so we’re sure not to miss you).

If you want to use your coffee breaks (it IS a Friday after all) for a little “research”, here are some reviews to keep ya’ busy!

The 2010 Stars

We have yet to meet a playboater out there who doesn’t love the Star family. They’re a fantastic playboat and it sounds like Jackson is just raising the bar with the updated 2010 line up. Here’s a quick review courtesy of Phil Boyer:

The shorter bow and stern along with the increased volume around the cockpit allow the boat to spin faster, rotate from bow to stern more quickly and maximize retentiveness – on holes and waves. These enhancements offer many benefits:

-an increase in energy reserves
-longer surfs
-faster boat response from edge to edge
-stable while front, back and side surfing
-secondary stability while surfing
-spins on a dime
-bigger bounce and pop for bigger moves
-ease of dropping the bow or stern for arial moves
-easy to roll from all positions

The 2010 Allstar is a play boat like no other. It will help every paddler become a better play boater.

Need some more “from the water” reviews? Here ya’ go!

The 2010 Funs

This boat is hands down one of our most popular boats: it runs rivers, it plays, it’s (pardon the pun) FUN! Here’s a quick review of the 2010 from Scott Dougherty, owner/teacher of World Class Kayak Academy:

The new Fun series is a terrific improvement on what has been a staple choice for paddlers who prefer a more classic design over the more freestyle specific 2010 Star series. It feels much more balanced in volume distribution between the bow and stern in comparison to the previous model, making it easy to maintain balance when linking ends.

This seemed to contribute to the boat’s stability in the more challenging whitewater, as well, as it felt very comfortable in the rapids on the Upper Gauley. At the same time, the new Fun retains the narrower width and longer length in the tail retaining the design’s ability to initiate stern squirts and stalls easily. Finally, one of the biggest improvements over the previous design in my opinion was the hull. On a wave and in a hole it had the release I seek in a playboat, spinning easily on smaller green waves. This is a quality I enjoy in the Star series, which combined with the length of the Fun series made it easy to catch every variety of play feature all the way down the river. I can see a lot of potential in this boat and look forward to paddling it downriver in big water.

Also check out JK’s announcement of the redesigned Fun series for official specs.

The All New Villian

This is Jackson’s latest creek boat offering and so far all the feedback we’ve heard is nothing but gold! I thought I’d post a review from Stephen Wright, since we’re getting to paddle with him, and his post has a video along with it – and who doesn’t love a good video, right?

The new Villain S rocks my world! This video is of the 49 to Bridgeport section of the South Yuba near Nevada City in California. This is my first attempt at a video with my new GoPro Hero HD helmet cam-I learned the hard way that Transcend SD cards don’t get along with GoPro-it stopped recording after about 1/3 of the run.

The Villain S is SWEET! It’s FAST, nimble, boofs EVERYTHING, stable, forgiving, holds a line at speed yet easy to spin at low speeds, carries TONS of speed through foam and away from drops. This is a great run to highlight how well the Villain S paddles: plenty of rocks and boofs, but lots of boils and pushy curlers as well. Keep an eye out for how easily this boat goes where I want it to-love that. You’ll also get to see my creeking style: boof every rock I can see-I just can’t stay away from them.I have a real problem.

More proof required? Here’s a ladies take on the Villian from Kat Levitt as well as a fairly extensive review from Darin McQuoid.

One more thing posted an article the other day on color customization for Jackson Kayaks. If you have the perfect color scheme in mind, here are the details on how to make it happen. Give us a call and we can get you set up with the prettiest (or coolest, or toughest) boat you’ve ever laid your eyes on!

Kayak Shed . .

Hotel Charley 3: The Lost World

Jessie Coombs and gang are up to it again! Hotel Charley 3 – Sweet kayaking film that the Kayakshed is going to premiere Saturday, April 26, 2008 Hood River, OR. River City Saloon. Hope to see you there!
Here’s what Jessie has to say about it:

I just finished putting together the premier tour for Hotel Charley 3: The Lost World.
The new title from Clear H2o Films that is set to release April 22nd is The Lost World, Hotel Charley vol. 3. The meat of the feature length film features Kayak First Descents of wild, free flowing rivers from the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, the extremely remote Twang Region of India, and a kayak descent down the soon to be dammed inner gorge of Brazil’s longest river, the Rio San Fransisco. In search of this proverbial Lost World that exists in the world’s last unseen gorges are film producers and 2006 National Geographic Adventure Heroes Ben Stookesberry and Jesse Coombs. Along with Jesse and Ben is a cast of characters that is as diverse as the locations in the film. From the ultra talented paddlers of Team Jackson Kayak including Eric jackson, Dane Jackson, Nick Troutman, Joel Kowolski, Chris Korbulic, and Darin McQuoid pushing the envelope in roadless Northern Newfoundland; to the stories and supper smooth of Indian/ Nepally Kayaker Lama Kundan in the farthest off corner of India situated between China and Bhutan. In addition to the feature length film, the DVD the lost world will be jam packed with Bonus features including more incredible multi-day kayaking expeditions from Southwest BC, the Wind River Range of Wyoming, and Colorado’s Southern Rockies. If that’s not enough Jesse and I want share our 3 week attempt to train writer Thayer Walker to become a class V boater; we called it the Crash Course. As a self proclaimed class 4 boater, Thayer spends 14 river days training in class 5 water in order to become a battle ready Expedition Boater. This is in addition to a Men’s Fitness feature article of the same name that hit the stand in April 2008.
We look forward to seeing you at the premier and on the river!
Jesse Coombs

Kayak Shed . .

Womens Kayaking trip to Costa Rica

Womens Kayaking trip to Costa Rica
Sounds pretty amazing to me. Heather Herbeck is going to lead this trip to …. heaven for paddlers. What’s up?

Women’s “Paddle and Pamper” Series Schedule of Events
Women’s Paddle and Pamper Series Kick-Off – COSTA RICA March 22nd – 27th 2008
Level: Beginner/Intermediate
River: Sarapiqui – Class II; Rio Pejibaye – Class II (III)
Instruction: Roll practice, eddy turns, ferries, edge control, paddle strokes, scouting, and more
Pampering: We’re in Costa Rica – it’s all about pampering!
Womens Kayaking trip to Costa Rica

The link above has the more specific information about this event. It’s going to be awesome . . . warm water, warm weather, just women, fitness and relaxation . . .

Heather Herbeck in her Pink Jackson Rocker!

More info on Jackson Kayaks

Kayak Shed . .

Team JK’s Heather Herbeck Returns from Mexico

Team JK’s Heather Herbeck sends in this note and article from Mexico December 9, 2007
By Heather Herbeck
I just wanted to let you know how our trip went back to Mexico. It has been my goal since the last time I was in Mexico with you and other Jackson Team members to come back and show Nate the “goods” that the Alseseca offers. We met up with Rafa over the weekends we were there and hit many of the sections of the Alseseca that we explored last year.
Before I get into the river reports, I want to thank you, once again, for making such great boats. The first day of paddling in Mexico, I had a vert. pin situation, ending up pulling my skirt and watching the Rocker go over the next horizon – an unrunnable, perhaps the mankiest drop I have ever seen. It took us 3 hours to z-drag the Rocker out of a gnarly seive. Once pulled out of the water, we noticed an indentation along the side of the boat, however within minutes, the dent was out and the boat was in tip-top shape. Thanks EJ!
I am sending you some photos from the trip, but there are many more photos along with the trip reports on
The most exciting thing for me about our trip back to Mexico was the last canyon (on the map, this section was the deepest canyon of the Alseseca), which Rafa, myself, Ikrt, Taylor and Nate explored. If you remember, this was the last stretch of the Alseseca that Ben wanted to explore, however with limited time, we didn’t get to it last year. This section started with a 100 foot waterfall, the most beautiful horizon line I have ever seen. We repelled downstream of this falls about 120 feet into a deep, deep canyon . . . the trip report will be up on soon. (The last three or four attached photos are of this last section) A beautiful, huge waterfall followed by a 35 foot waterfall a little ways downstream. And a Class V rapid about a 200 feet downstream of this . . . the gradient we noticed from the map was definatetly stacked in the first three drops.
I left Mexico last year, wanting to get back into the Alseseca and explore the last section that Ben had hoped to get on with the crew last year – so with that accomplished, I left Mexico this year with three goals in mind for when I get back – The Tomata Gorge, The Trucha section (that stretch looked so good, but with limited number of crew – because Nate was out sick – we didn’t hit it) and some waterfalls that Nate and I scouted. Can’t wait!!!
I hope you are well.***All photos in this report are courtesy of Nate and Heather Herbeck.
Heather Herbeck
Heather in her Jackson Rocker.
Kayak Shed . .

Win a trip to Rock Island

Straight from Jackson:

Get your Hero, Super Hero, or Side Kick Gift Certificates Today!
December 2, 2007
Your favorite dealer (Obviously KayakShed) can now take orders for your new Hero, Super Hero, or Side Kick! Just call them up and tell them that you want to purchase your new Hero and that you want a gift certificate for your deposit. They will send me your information and we will send you a FREE T-Shirt of your size in the model you bought! You will also be entered into a drawing where you will get a trip to Rock Island to help make your boat and paddle with the Jackson family and Jackson team!

Kayak Shed . .