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 : Sweet Helmets Package

What’s Sweet-er (hah!) than a new Sweet Wanderer Helmet? How about a new Sweet Wanderer helmet, a new Sweet sweatshirt AND a new pair of Sweet shorts! Any way you cut it, that is a SWEET deal for one of the lucky winners of the Gorge Paddling Film Festival!
Kayak Shed . .

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 Shiva Is Coming, The Shiva Is Coming!

Just in time for the holidays, Pyranha‘s newest steep creek boat is on the way! Pryanha consistently turns out boats that live up the hype surrounding them and we expect the Shiva to be no different.  An all out creeker with a soft edge, here’s the beta on how the Shiva stacks up to Pyranha’s ever-popular Burn:

Progressive rocker : easy to boof and flair over featuresAggressive rocker : for great boofability
Forgiving rounded hull : gives softer landings on big dropsDynamic flat hull : planning surface for surfing and ferrying
Smooth stern chines : no rails to trip you up but chines for driving forcesHard carving rails : precision carving capability around the river
High volume bow and stern : rides easily over features, re-surfaces quicklyMedium volume bow and stern : punches through features
Rounded profile with low deck : easy to rollLow profile deck : easy to roll
Stern release edge : allows really fast linesV’d deck : sheds water and re-surfaces with control

Ready for a little Shiva eye candy now? We thought so! Enjoy!

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 . .

Wavesport Project X Review

We just got the Project X 64 and Project X 48 into the shop, so we asked our local Wavesport expert and pro paddler Kim Russell to let us know what she thinks. Here’s what she has to say:

The New Project X:

-Higher Volume (48 vs 45)
-More aggressive rocker profile
-Slicier bow

I have been paddling a Wave Sport Project 45 since 2007, and never thought I would make the switch to any other boat; I love my Project 45! However, from the first time I took a seat in my Project X, I now have a new favorite playboat. Let me tell you why…

The Outfitting:

Outfitting wise, the boat feels very similar to the Project: same foot block, thigh braces, hip pads, and seat pad, however, the new outfitting is white and has been dubbed “Whiteout.” It is softer, does not collect dirt, and does not absorb nearly as much water as the old outfitting. Pretty cool, eh?

In general, the Project X “feels” like the Project in regards to positioning, although I feel as though my knees sit up a little higher in the boat, making it more comfortable for a long day on the river, as well as giving me more leverage for tricks.

First Impression on the Water:

On the water, the boat feels very stable. It has good primary as well as secondary stability. End-to-end it is very well balanced, and never feels as though it is “falling” end-over-end through moves. With its slicey bow, and its shorter length, the Project X allows me to more easily control and link ends than most other boats I have paddled. Finally, as a smaller paddler, the Project X is easy to paddle because the volume is located so close to the body.


You might expect such a “spud-boat” to not do so well, however, the Project X excels downriver. There is a lot of volume in the front, and while the X is a pretty short boat, it maintains just enough length to be very stable downriver. In addition, I witnessed a complete and utter lack of pearling thanks to the aggressive rocker profile of the X. Whether I was paddling over boily seams or eddylines, the bow never pearled once.

On a Wave:

The Project X is FUN FUN FUN on a wave! It carves easily, and smoothly back and forth. It is very quick edge-to-edge, and releases with very little effort on the paddler’s part. Forward and backward, the Project X did not flush easily, even from the smallest of waves.

Having only been in the Project X only a handful of times, I still have to get used to the boat myself. What I can be sure of is whether paddling downriver, or on a feature, it will bring a smile to your face! For more information, go to your local dealer and ask to demo the new Project X! You won’t be disappointed!

Cheers and Enjoy the new Project X!

Kim Russell

Kayak Shed . .

Halo Effect – Coming Soon!

Steve Fisher has just release the trailer for his newest film, Halo Effect, and it’s looks like it’s going to be great! Don’t know who Steve Fisher is? Check out his site for a glimpse of who this South African with a penchant for big water is – and what he’s done, for that matter!

We’re happy to announce that we’ll be hosting the local premier of Halo Effect this spring, so stay tuned for details! Without further ado, the trailer for Halo Effect.

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 . .