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!

2015 Gorge Paddling Film Festival : Important Update!

We are incredibly excited to announce that we are partnering with World Class Kayak Academy to move the date of the film fest to correspond with the Little White Salmon race! The new date for the film festival is May 1st, the new deadline for submissions is April 24th – giving you all an extra week to put together fresh footage!

Doors will open at River City at 6:30pm and we’ll start rolling film at 7pm to make sure there is plenty of time for the Young Guns to have their footage shown and to vote! We’re excited to have the kids from WCKA participating on the Film Fest and know having them involved will raise the bar in all of the categories!

Questions? Feel free to see additional details and hit us up with any questions on our event page:


Kayak Shed . .

TEVA Reel Paddling Film Festival in Hood River!

Wet Planet Whitewater Center & the Kayak Shed are super excited to host this event together, at the Columbia Center for the Arts. Grab your paddling buddies, come admire and be inspired by the beautiful places and rivers captured by these talented photographers. 

And lets raise a brew together afterwards at the Pint Shack, toasting the amazing place we live in, and the great boating community we have here. Cheers.

GET YOUR TICKETS! you can secure your seat by getting your ticket online, or you can wait and get it the door.
This event will also be a fundraiser for the 8th Annual White Salmon Riverfest Symposium.

See the event Facebook page for more details. 

Movies to be shown – start time 8pm!

– Of Souls + Water
From Forge Motion Pictures comes this groundbreaking web series. Filmed in exquisite HD, 5 episodes tell the real stories of 5 character archetypes, all bound together by the common theme of water. Combining artistry, adventure and ethos, Of Souls + Water redefines the genre of outdoor

– Balance
Shares the stories of three individuals who live their lives in very different ways. The characters are not professional athletes but rather working-class heroes – people who work to make time for the things they love. In this edition, follow Blair Trotman as he finds his path as a kayaking instructor after ending up in the Military. 

– Tierra del Fuego
A British couple tries to become the first to sea kayak 1000 miles around the remote and windswept island of Tierra del Fuego. Shipping delays, a stolen kayak, endless red tape, incessant winds and tendonitis threaten their safety and success. Share the highs and lows of this challenging world-first adventure while meeting some of the interesting people who survive in this harsh environment.

– Habitat – footage LOCAL RIVERS AND BOATERS!
This documentary takes you through 35 years of the progression of rafting in the Pacific Northwest. Shane Turnbull, John Hall (former AAA-Rafting/Wet Planet), Doc Loonis, Val Shaull and Jeff Bennett share tales of the evolution from early commercial boating to the private boating scene and into the modern day rush of rafters venturing beyond the guidebooks, exploring territory uncharted for rafts.

– Currents: The Grand Canyon
A journey through the Grand Canyon is a one in a lifetime trip for many. However, the Colorado river as we know it may not exist if it wasn’t for conservation initiatives undertaken over the years. Take a journey through the Grand Canyon with those who have fought to preserve this national

– Where the Yellowstone Goes
Where the Yellowstone Goes follows a 30-day drift boat journey down the longest undammed river in the contiguous United States. Intimate portraits of locals in both booming cities and dusty, dwindling towns along the Yellowstone River illustrate the history and controversies surrounding this enigmatic watershed, leading to questions about its

– That First Glide – 2013 Festival Winner for Documentary 
This film shares standup paddlings’s deep roots in early Polynesian and Hawaiian history. Learn about the first standup paddle enthusiasts who were playing around in Waikiki as early as 1939. Later in the ‘60s and ‘70s, follow guys like John Ah Choy and John Zapotocki who paddled boards well into the ‘90s. Showing interviews with Laird Hamilton and Robby Nash.


Kayak Shed . .

The Legend of Big Sur

You may have heard her on the phone or met her in the store. Angie, Kayak Shed employee, just got back from an epic Colorado trip. Here’s her run-down.

Some say it ran last year. Some say this wave hasn’t really gone since 1989, others prefer 1991 as the date of the last genuine appearance of a legend. Or according to White Water of the Southern Rockies, the last sighting of this feature was in 1997. Sound a little like Big Foot? The Myth of Big Sur is well known by paddlers across the country. This legendary surf wave in the middle of Nowhere, Colorado requires extremely high run off to form. With huge snow packs in the Rockies I set my sights on getting out to Colorado to surf a legend.
Unfortunately, for the first time in years I have a full time job.

Fortunately, I work at the Kayak Shed. A week before I headed out to Colorado I franticly called John, telling him I had to leave the next day to catch Big Sur before it disappeared for another ten years. We couldn’t quite work the schedule out, so instead I booked a ticket for the following week, crossing my fingers there might still be some kind of feature left to surf when I got there. As luck would have it I arrived just in time to ride Big Sur around 30,000 cfs- a truly prime level for the top feature. Had I gone a week earlier I would have surfed the Bonus Wave, while the top wave would have been a river wide prism of brown glass. The top wave Big Sur is famous for only forms above 25,000 cfs, and the first morning we were there it held steady all morning at 29,500.

My friend and I drove up from the truck stop we camped at the night before and got there around 10am. The only other folks at Big Sur were these two dudes from New Mexico. They had been surfing since the sun came up and were happy to share the feature with us. Until around one we were the only people there. It was easy to take turns because the rides were so long and the paddle to the side and hike back up were tiring, especially for my lungs fresh off the plane from White Salmon. Gradually other boaters showed up. There were surfers on long boards, and all kinds of paddlers with everything from squirt boats and Pirouettes to shiny new play boats, all waiting their turn to surf.

It was amazing to see how many people had traveled great distances to catch this novelty wave. I had come from Washington, there were the dudes from New Mexico, folks from all over Colorado, a guy from New York even showed up, and of course the random South East boaters that filter through Colorado every spring were there too. It wasn’t just boaters. The obligatory tourists showed up to gawk and even the local law enforcement made an appearance to make sure there wasn’t anyone on surf boards (apparently the surf board is a banned craft.) As the sun sank behind the canyon the crowds cleared out and the rest of our posse arrived. The boys stayed out until it started to really get dark.

We camped in the canyon and repeated our session the next day. This time we got there at 8am and it didn’t get really crowded until three. The whole two days are a blur of foam pile and glass. The second day I got my longest surf of the trip, clocking in at right around 20 minutes. Honestly, my surf was nothing compared to the length of time the old school boats were clocking in. One chick in an old Red Line surfed the glass on river left for over an hour! The second day was a bit crazier and Queen/King of the Wave was an all afternoon event. We left around six and headed to Glenwood to see what all the fuss was there.

Glenwood was fun, but not at all the same experience as Big Sur. I was surprised to learn The Denver Post had published an article declaring Big Sur to be a waste of time, a thing of the past, and hailed the Glenwood wave as the place to be. True, Glenwood was spectacular, huge, bouncy, fast, and ideally suited for this years cutting edge play boats, but it was not the same experience. Honestly, Glenwood played second fiddle to Big Sur in my book.

Big Sur was smooth, deep, and wide making it perfect for half hour long soul surfs and flat spins until you’re dizzy. It was super forgiving and wide enough for five or six of your friends to join the party, and when you’re sitting in the trough next to two buddies and a surfer drops in next to you it clicks. This is why Big Sur is a legend. It’s a unique experience. You’re not just sitting in an eddy with your friends; you’re down it together, just surfing. Big Sur is pure river magic. Anyone that’s surfed Big Sur knows. It’s not the place you go to impress people with all the cool new tricks; it’s where you go for your soul.

Thanks for reading!


Kayak Shed . .

Girls at Play Summer Tour Comes to Hood River July 16th and 17th

Whether you’re just starting or starting to master more advanced moves, meet other women in the paddling community and take your paddling to the next level with Anna Levesque and the Kayak Shed at the Girls at Play Summer Tour. Register early, as spaces are limited.

Saturday, July 16th will focus on paddling fundamentals. Saturday will be held on the Klickitat or Lower White Salmon.

Sunday, July 17th will focus on teaching and/or improving the moves you need to take your paddling to the next level. Sunday will be held on the Middle White Salmon. Strong combat roll is required.

To keep Girls at Play coming to Hood River, there is a $75 suggested donation per person per day. Have questions or want to register? Call the Kayak Shed at 541-386-4286.

Kayak Shed . .

Paddle and Demo with Demshitz

Want to demo a Pyranha Kayak and Boat with the Bros? Then paddle with Demshitz and Team Pyranha on July 25th. The group will be meeting at the Kayak Shed at 12pm to kayak the Middle White Salmon. Have questions? Call the Kayak Shed at 541-386-4286

What kayaks are going to be there for demo?
2 Smalls
3 Mediums
1 Large
2 Larges
1 Medium
1 Small

Kayak Shed . .

Explosions and Whitewater…Learn about Dam Removal

Old and obsolete dams are starting to be removed throughout the Northwest, opening new stretches of rivers to spawning salmon and river runners.

Come and watch two entertaining documentary short films about recent dam removal success stories on the Sandy River, OR and Trout Creek of the Wind River, WA and join in a discussion afterwards.

There will be experts in the field present, like Paul Peirce–a Chair of the Skamania County Commission, James Dean–the demolition contractor that removed Hemlock Dam, and Bengt Coffin–a hydrologist with the USFS who put the Hemlock Dam removal project together.

The event is free and there will be two showings. We would love to see you there!

Tuesday, June 22nd at 7pm in the White Salmon Library
Thursday, June 24th at 7pm in the Hood River Springhouse Cellar, located in the parking lot of Mt. Hood RR.

Kayak Shed . .

Our Take on the 2010 Pyranha Burn

We asked the people in the shop to review the 2010 Pyranha Burn and here are the responses we got.

1) More Bow and Stern Rocker:

Robin: Great improvement over the old burn. I found being a heavier paddler and especially on self support trips the old burn would piton easily. Just got off of a 3 day self support trip with the new burn and not one piton!
Deborah: I noticed this helps keep my bow up when I am working on my boof stroke.
Nicole: I have always liked the maneuverability, but the added rocker makes it even more maneuverable.

2) Lifted and Softened Edges

Robin: A little less grabby than the old burn.
Todd: It is much more forgiving than the past burn model. The stern especially is a noticeable improvement.
Deborah: Definitely less edgy, which makes it more user friendly for beginners.
Nicole: I get caught as soon as I get distracted in my old Burn. I noticed that I was not getting caught off guard as easily in the 2010 Burn.

3) More Volume

Robin:There was not enough change in volume to notice.
Nicole: I don’t really paddle the gnar, but I felt like my stern wasn’t getting caught as much.

4) Peaked Deck

Robin: It might shed water a bit quicker, but it is hard to tell.
Nicole: I guess it would shed water more quickly, but whenever my boat disappears, I focus more on survival than how quickly it comes back up, haha.

5) Deck height

Robin: Being that I have short legs, the lower knee area makes for a bit more comfort.
Deborah: Much more comfortable in the thigh brace area. I don’t feel like I am sitting as awkwardly as in the old Burn.
Nicole: I’m flexible like a contortionist, so the deck height never affected my roll, but the lower knee area feels more comfortable.

6) Rollability

Robin: It felt about the same as the old one.
Deborah: Definitely felt a bit easier to roll than the old Burn.
Nicole: Like I said before, my flexibility makes rolling in most kayaks easy, but the lifted and softened edges meant that I didn’t have to roll as much.

7) Primary and Secondary stability

Robin: Primary stability is great as before, but the secondary stability seems a bit better than the old version.
Todd: Better secondary stability than the older version. I have put many students in this kayak and they have excelled due to its balance between primary and secondary stability. Boats that focus too much on primary stability give students confidence when going through basic rapids but are difficult to edge and roll. On the other end, round boats will full displacement hulls give confidence for rolling and edging but feel unstable in the rapids. I have had trouble finding a kayak that allows for both, but this new Burn is appearing to fit the students’ needs very well.
Nicole: The one thing that I didn’t like as much about the old Burn was the secondary stability. I’ve got a pretty good brace, but it didn’t do much for me in the old Burn. I feel like the 2010 Burn has way better secondary stability, so getting knocked off center doesn’t mean certain flip.

8) Outfitting

Todd: The new outfitting is great, with the velcro addition in the hip pads, it makes for easier outfitting that isn’t going to shift around on you.
Deborah: Just as comfortable as the old outfitting!

9) Ability as a Creeker

Robin: Great! Love it. Boofs Well!!!
Todd: I have always loved the Pyranha Burn, and I love the new Burn too.

10) Ability as a River Runner

Robin: It really surfs well for a big boat.
Deborah: The planing hull definitely helps it surf well.
Nicole: I only River Run and I have always liked the Burn. The 2010 Burn is no exception.

11) Speed

Robin: Definitely not the fastest boat out there, but it has enough to make the moves.
Deborah: It is definitely fast enough for me!

12) Crossing Eddy Lines

Robin: One big improvement over the old version is more volume in the stern, which in turn makes crossing boiling eddy lines easier.
Deborah: One of my favorite things to do in the Burn is carve into eddies, and the 2010 makes it just as fun!
Nicole: Boily eddy lines…you won’t get me anymore!

13) Who is this boat best for?

Robin: Intermediates to Experts
Todd: This boat is best for the extreme kayaker running difficult creeks, but also for the beginning kayaker who wants a quick, but doable learning curve.
Deborah: Adventurous Beginners/Intermediates as well as hardcore advanced kayakers.
Nicole: I guess I can only speak for myself, but I really like it. I often feel that the old Burn is too advanced for me, but the 2010 Burn seems more forgiving and therefore more beginner/intermediate friendly.

Robin‘s favorite river is the Little White Salmon (Class V), which he paddles regularly after a day in the shop. On the weekends, Robin takes off for overnight trips and he recently self-supported the Jarbridge/Bruneau in the 2010 Burn. He usually paddles the old Pyranha Burn, Everest, and Wavesport Project 62.

Todd is a professional kayaker as well as owner and instructor at Columbia Gorge Kayak School. His favorite river is the Little White Salmon (Class V), where he goes after working at the Klickitat with new kayakers (Class II). Todd paddled the old Pyranha Burn, but he has stepped up to the 2010 Medium Burn. He has recently upgraded his school fleet so that it includes all sizes of the 2010 Burn, which he puts students in regularly.

Deborah is the customer service extraordinaire at the Kayak Shed and this June marks her 2 year kayaking anniversary. Her favorite river is the Rogue River (Class III), though she loves the White Salmon too, because it is always there for her. She paddles the new Jackson Villain S, which she is really enjoying.

Nicole‘s favorite river is the Middle White Salmon (Class III), which she kayaks whenever it is too wet to mountain bike. She normally paddles the old Pyranha Burn (size small) or the Dagger Kingpin 6.2.

Kayak Shed . .

Don’t have plans for this Sunday? Come to the “Down and Out” Paddle, Picnic, and Raffle!

If you’re headed to The White Salmon River Symposium on Saturday, then stick around on Sunday to join Tim and Patrick for the “Down and Out” Paddle, Picnic, and Raffle. This is for all of us who want to get together, paddle, talk about what’s new, and eat some free food.

The “Down and Out” Paddle will start at BZ Corner and go to Northwestern Lake. If you’re not up for paddling the Middle White Salmon (Class III) but still want to join in, you can meet the group halfway and paddle the Lower White Salmon (Class II).

If you want to run the Middle White Salmon, meet at Husum at 2:00 pm. If you want to paddle the Lower White Salmon, meet at Husum between 3:00 and 3:15 pm.

Once the paddle is over, there will be a Picnic and Raffle at Tim Hardin’s house. The Kayak Shed and World Kayak have donated schwag that will be raffled off. Food will be provided, so all you have to do is show up with your favorite beverage and a chair.

If you plan on coming, send Tim an RSVP at so they know how much food to get and we hope to see you on the river!

When: Sunday, June 6th at 2pm for the folks paddling the Middle or 3pm for those paddling the Lower

Where: Kayakers meet at Husum, but the picnic will be held at Tim Hardin’s house

What to bring: your favorite beverage, a chair, kayak gear

Kayak Shed . .

Visit the Kayak Shed’s New On-Water Location

The Kayak Shed now has waterfront access to the Columbia River between the Event Site and AirTime, including a private dock for launching kayaks and stand up paddle boards (SUPs). Our on water location is great for trying out the newest kayaks without having to load and transport them anywhere. Whether you are looking to buy a new boat or just get some sun and exercise, all you have to do is show up!

If you are interested in paddling, but aren’t sure where to go, you can pack a lunch and paddle west to Wells Island then back to the site, which makes for a leisurely 2.5 mile journey. Along the way you can spot the kiteboarders and windsurfers, stop at the swim park, and watch for bald eagles. If you’re up for a longer paddle, you can head east to Koberg Beach, which rounds out to a 5 mile trip. Once you get there, you can hike up tall rock formations that drop off into deep pools, picnic on the sandy beach, and enjoy the scenic views. When it gets windy and the swell grows, you can still paddle in our wind sheltered inlet.


Rentals……………………….2 hrs………………………Additional hr(s)



Single Sit on Top………….$20………………………….$10

Tandem Sit on Top………$40………………………….$20

Hobie Pedal Drive……….$40………………………….$20


5 time punch pass*……….$90

*Punch pass: 1 punch per 2 hours use per person, 2 punches per 2 hr use per tandem or Hobie pedal drive

**All rentals include paddle and personal flotation device.

Guided Tours:

If there are strong winds on the Columbia River, it is often wise to have a guide to assist you on your kayaking adventures. Tours are available daily from our friends at the Columbia Gorge Kayak School. View their website at to register for a trip.

Beginner Recreational Tour: This trip meets at 10 am or 2:30pm. It is designed for people who have never been kayaking, family outings, or individuals that are uncomfortable in water and are looking to experience a few hours of stress free paddling.

Sunset Kayaking Tour: This trip meets at 6pm. This tour gives you the best seat in the house for an evening in the Gorge. Paddle right into the sunset through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area! If it’s too windy on the Columbia, trips will take place on Northwester Lake in the protected White Salmon River canyon. This is a great trip for dates, team building, family, and out-of-town guests.


Guided Tours……………………………………………….$60 per person

Group rate (sign up with 3 or more)…………….$48 per person
Kayak Shed . .